Maldives. Above and below the sea
The Republic of Maldives is an absolutely unique country consisting of 1,192 islands with only 187 being inhabited. The islands are grouped in 26 coral atolls; there is no such a large coral country in the world!
No wonder that the main landmarks of this archipelago are the beaches and abundant underwater world. Many islands have comfortable and delightful hotels built specifically for tourists who can go snorkelling right near these hotels. But it is much more interesting to head into the open sea on a safari yacht. It allows you to travel long distances to places where the impact of a human is minimal. No matter how long the dive lasts, you can always get to the surface and have a rest on cosy sandbanks.
You don't even have to be an experienced underwater swimmer: dive spots in the Maldives are suitable for everyone and it is another reason for people from all over the world to come here. One can dive all year round and depending on the season, you can meet different inhabitants of the Indian ocean. The only thing that does not change is the corals numbering almost 200 species.
The waters of the Maldive islands are a genuine natural treasury with an impressive diversity of living beings. Morays are among the most interesting Maldive fish. Compared to tropical bright fish rushing around in flocks, morays lead a secretive lifestyle and hide in crevices. Only a head popping out and rotating from side to side can be seen to an attentive eye: it is not an easy thing to notice such a reef dweller!
These waters are also home to 27 shark species but not all of them are dangerous. The nurse sharks differ by their friendliness. They rest on the bottom in large groups in the daytime and go out hunting at night. But their diet does not include a human: it feeds on little fish and crustaceans.
Come nightfall, this underwater scene changes dramatically: sunrays do not penetrate the water column and there comes a time for predators' activity. The biggest of them is the whale shark, the largest known extant fish species. It can grow up to 18 meters in length but it feeds only on plankton and tiny fish. Such easy prey does not require fast swimming: this shark just opens its mouth and tiny reef inhabitants get inside it, more than 20 kilos of them per day!
The stingrays have developed their own hunting tactics: they comb the bottom in search of clams and crustaceans. They've got strong teeth to crush their shells.
It is impossible to describe the abundance of the Maldives underwater world: more than a thousand fish species, hundreds of clam species and crabs, 5 turtles species, 21 species of dolphins and whales: such a unique diversity is hidden in this corner of our beautiful planet. We hope you enjoyed discovering these wonders hidden from the eyes of the average observer!
Photos and video by Max Guzovsky and Oleg Gaponyuk
08 October 2021
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