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Showing posts from March, 2016

Maldives 2016: Whale Shark!

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It was flat calm again, with sea and sky merging into one. As we reached the island of Maamigili, the crew immediately spotted a whale shark. By the time we got in the water, other boats had turned up and within minutes there must have been 50 snorkelers on the surface and divers beneath us. At times you couldn't see anything for the air bubbles from divers.

Sea and sky merge into one
The whale shark circled around for a while and then inexplicably came right to the surface, into the middle of the group of snorkelers. It was chaos, with some people just trying to get photos, while others were trying to keep clear of the shark. Fortunately, they only eat plankton! It went down again and just when I thought it had gone, it doubled back and passed underneath us, to be pursued by divers and snorkelers once again.

The whale shark comes to the surface…
 …straight through the group of snorkelers
 It swims away pursued by divers
We returned to the boat and after 10 minutes another whale s…

Maldives 2016: The Dead Shark

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A dead whitetip reef shark washed up on the beach. It was just a baby, about 60 cm long, with no obvious signs of damage.

Whitetip on the strandline
Two crows tried to find an opening, but without success. They soon gave up and the ghost crabs moved in. A one point there were six on it, but as the morning heated up, they lost interest.

The crows can't find a way in
Crabs get a meal, but soon overheat
I left too, but returned in the late afternoon. It was a long time before any crabs came to the dead shark, but as the sun went down they started to appear. People also came along the beach and disturbed the crabs every few minutes, so they didn't make much progress.

It was soon covered in flies
I had imagined there would be a feeding frenzy, but it didn't happen. Next morning I had an early start for a snorkelling trip, so it was late afternoon again before I got back to the beach. The shark had gone.

Maldives 2016: Turtle Point

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I took another half day snorkelling trip on the dive boat. We headed north to a submerged reef called Turtle Point. It lived up to its name - we saw three Hawksbill turtles almost immediately. There were thousands of colourful reef fish too, including clown fish on their anemones and a whitetip reef shark.

 Clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with their anemones
Whitetip reef shark lurks on the reef edge
We found a turtle in the middle of the reef which was munching on algae and totally unfazed by our presence. I duck dived to photograph it again and again. Twice it came up to the surface to breathe. The dive boat went off to pick up the scuba divers and it was ages before it returned, giving us plenty of quality time with the turtle. It was a real privilege.

Hawksbill turtle
 Hawksbill turtle
Turtle comes to the surface to breathe
We motored on, just a short way, before stopping to snorkel again. This was a reef called the Coral Garden - the coral here was truly spectacular. We w…

Maldives 2016: Mantas!

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We cruised for about 40 minutes across the atoll on a flat-calm sea, to snorkel over a submerged reef called 'Manta point', where there was a manta ray cleaning station. Mantas regularly visit this reef to get their parasites removed by smaller fish. It benefits both parties, as the small fish get an easy meal.

Manta glides over the reef
When we arrived there was a line of divers on the bottom and a Manta gracefully 'flying' around in front of them, sometimes gliding right over their heads. Eventually the divers got the signal from their leader to return to the boat and within seconds of their departure, the Manta left the scene too, heading in the opposite direction. I wondered who'd been watching who! Clearly the manta was just as interested in the divers as they were in it.

Manta entertaining divers
We returned to the boat and motored for a couple of minutes to another cleaning station. Here there were three mantas initially, which I thought was incredible, but …