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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Marine Life in Maldives - discover another paradise in Maldives
Joanna James Joanna James
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Marine Life in Maldives - discover another paradise in Maldives

Home to an estimated 2000 species of marine creatures, coral reefs and countless aquatic plants, the Maldives is a haven for marine life and a beautiful underwater eco-system.


Coral reefs

Under the turquoise waters that surround the coral islands and lagoons, are extensive coral reefs, which can stretch for kilometres off the shore. The coral is divided into two categories - hard and soft coral. The hard coral grows in huge colonies, leaving behind a skeleton of limestone upon which more coral grows. This hard coral grows in various forms such as flat to rounded, and commonly seen 'staghorn' effect. The soft corals live as unnoticeable growths on the ocean floor. They are best viewed at night, when the tiny polyp reaches out to catch food.


Fish species

Literally thousands of fish species, in every size and colour can be found swimming around the atolls. Some of the smaller species include the photogenic types like the colourful butterfly fish, the angelfish, the Napoleon Wrasse, Moorish Idol, and the parrotfish. While larger fish include the likes of barracuda, the long-nose hawkfish and schools of tuna, snapper and groupers are regular inhabitants.


Reef inhabitants

Apart from the fish and plants, there are numerous other species that live among the reefs. Moray eels can be seen laying in ambush for smaller fish, while the tentacles of an octopus reach out of its lair to snatch food. The best time to view these creatures is after dark when they become more active. In addition, there are around 200 kinds of crustaceans living on the sea floor including lobsters, crabs, and shrimps.



Gliding through waters near the coast, these sleek and beautiful creatures are generally found swimming in large groups, and are not shy of humans. Smaller groups swimming near beaches are a common sight, and most tourist accommodation options, like Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi, for example, a Maldives islands resort, will offer excursions that are designed to allow guests to get up-close with the graceful creatures. There are a number of rays living around Maldives including eagle rays, manta rays, and the sting rays.



The Maldives banned shark fishing in 2010, and since then, the shark population has grown considerably. The smaller sharks and babies stay near the lagoons and reefs, whilst the larger ones are found in the open sea. From the territorial gray reef shark and the nocturnal zebra shark, to the fearsome hammerhead, they can all be seen around the Maldives. The most looked for in these waters is the whale shark - this gentle giant is the largest fish in the world, however it is actually classed as a mammal.


Sea turtles

The Maldives has five species of sea turtles. Between June to November is the best time to catch sight of them as them come ashore to lay their eggs. The green turtle, loggerhead, hawksbill and olive ridley have all been spotted on numerous islands. However, if you want to view the leatherback turtles, you'll have to sail out as they can only be seen out in the open sea.