Marine Life Maldives
MARINE LIFE IN THE MALDIVES
There is nothing quite more breathtaking than seeing the islands of the Maldives up close right before your airplane descends into this paradise country. The archipelago is composed of 26 atolls surrounded by the Indian Ocean’s pristine waters. These atolls are made up of over 1,100 tiny islands, each enclosed by a ring of white coral reef and blue lagoon which makes for the most picturesque island photos. Visitors can experience the ultimate Robinson Crusoe fantasy and feel like a castaway on their own deserted, tropical island with only the herons and the crabs on the beach – but do not fret because the resorts have all the comforts of any modern establishment so no expense was spared into making sure that you are comfortable and taken care of.
WHAT TO EXPECT UNDERWATER
The marine ecosystem of the Maldives has been around for millions of years. The coral reefs that encircle its islands are actually limestone skeletons that were left behind by living corals hundreds of thousands of years ago creating the beautiful formations that make the islands of the country so unique.
There is a wide variety of coral species that can be found in the Maldives. Most of what the country has can be classified under hard or soft corals. Hard corals form skeletons to protect their bodies such as the long branching staghorns, brain coral, and the flat or sheet coral; soft corals do not have skeletons and mostly stand alone and not grouped in colonies such as fan corals, wire or whip corals, and the cerebral coral.
Although majority of the corals in the country are still vibrant and jaw dropping, it is under the threat of global warming. This beautiful sea garden that took hundreds and hundreds of years to develop can lose their colors because of the warming waters caused by the El Niño phenomenon. The government is doing everything in its power to make sure the damage doesn’t become catastrophic so you might want to visit the Maldives now while the corals are still there.
The reefs are alive with animals that are known to thrive in these coral formations such as sea-squirts, mollusks or clams, starfishes, sponges, lobsters, coral shrimps, hermit crabs, and feather stars. From time to time you might also see moray eels waiting patiently in their little holes for their prey, or an octopus darting in and out of the reefs searching for its next meal. It’s like a little underwater city that’s full of life!
The Maldives is home to about 700 species of fish that can be categorized as reef fishes and pelagic fishes. Reef fishes stay close to the reefs and the slopes that surround the lagoons of the tiny islands. The most common ones would be groupers, lion fishes, moray eels, scorpion fishes, anemone fishes, angel fishes, yellow butterfly fishes, parrot fishes, squirrel fishes, Napoleon fishes, puffer fishes, snappers, surgeonfishes, and tuna just to name a few. Pelagic fishes are those that live out in the open seas and only come close to the reefs in search of food such as whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, and rays.
SHARKS – White, black tip reef sharks, tiger, blue, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks call the deep seas of the Maldives home. Mature ones are quite hard to spot even on deep waters but the younger ones easily swim up to shore and can be spotted swimming in the lagoons. They are very tame but, of course, caution should be exercised and these fishes should not be petted.
WHALES AND DOLPHINS – Whale sharks, blue whale, and sperm whales are the common whales you can see during sightseeing excursions depending on the season. Dolphins such as the spinner and bottle nosed are very common sights and are a delight to behold with their playful behavior.
STINGRAYS AND MANTA RAYS – Resorts organize almost daily stingray and manta ray feedings depending on the location of your chosen property. These gentle giants swim up close to shore where they are fed by the resort staff and make it possible for memorable photo ops to be taken.
TURTLES – The most common ones that can be seen are the hawksbill, green, logger head, and the Olive Ridley turtles. All of them are endangered and are protected. They usually come to shore between the months of June to November to lay their eggs. Some resorts are lucky to be the usual spots of these wonderful creatures and they sometimes have programs where they allow the guests to be part of the hatching experience.