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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for List of Sharks in Maldives – Live every week like its shark week
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Joanna James Joanna James
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List of Sharks in Maldives – Live every week like its shark week

Maldives is a tropical paradise, as such, it is home to several species of sharks, 26 to be exact. Most species of shark are completely harmless, while others are best avoided. Here are 5 of the 26.

1

Whale Shark

The whale shark, as their name suggests, is the largest fish in the world and just like their namesake, they are also completely harmless. Whale sharks are a species of carpet shark, and as is characteristic of the group, they have 5 gill sets, a small mouth, two spineless dorsal fins and an ornately patterned body. These sharks feed only on plankton, a diet that allows them to grow to more than 32 feet in length. These slow-moving, gentle giants live to be about 70 years. The Maldives is one of the only places in the world that Whale Sharks can be encountered all year round. Unfortunately, these species are facing many threats to their population and are in need of immediate conservation action.

2

Tiger Shark

The complete opposite of whale sharks in temperament, Tiger Sharks are among the most dangerous shark species in the world and are best avoided at all costs. Fortunately, the species, whose reputation as a man-eater is second only to the Great White, is a nocturnal hunter and, while present near the Maldivian islands, is rarely seen during the day. Tiger Sharks feed on a variety of different species including crustaceans, dolphins, turtles, seals, fish and other sharks. The species lives to be about 15 or more years and grows between 10 to 14 feet in length.

3

Hammerhead Shark

The Maldives is one of the best places to encounter these eccentric looking sharks; three hammerhead species are thought to live in the Maldivian Indian Ocean. Resort and seaside restaurant alike are sometimes blessed with visits from shoals that swim close to the shore during morning hours. Hammerheads venture out by themselves at night (they stick together in large schools during the day) to hunt for fish, squid, crustaceans, other sharks, octopus and stingray. They grow to about 20 feet in length. Only one of the 3 species are definitely recorded in Maldivian Waters, the scalloped hammerhead. If you spot these, it is best to keep at a distance as they are known to attack humans. Scalloped hammerheads are a globally endangered species.

4

Blacktip Reef Shark

The Blacktip Reef shark is abundantly found in the Maldives and is generally very shy and difficult to approach - they swim away at the sight of swimmers and will attack only if provoked. The blacktip grows to a length of about 5 feet and feeds primarily on small bony fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods. The species are quite loyal to their home range, which is rather small, and they use the lagoons around Maldives to nurse their little pups. Baby sharks can often be seen swimming about under the crystal clear lagoon waters adjacent to islands, while adults are commonly encountered while snorkelling in the house reefs of island resorts like Baros Maldives.

5

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

The Oceanic Whitetip should never be confused with the whitetip reef shark, who unlike its oceanic cousin is quite harmless and attack only if provoked. The Oceanic Whitetip is slow-moving but aggressive. It is famous for going into highly dangerous 'feeding frenzies' that make them fatally dangerous for survivors of shipwrecks and air crashes! The species is usually seen in deeper waters and are solitary. Typically, the species feeds on stingrays, sea turtles, the unlucky seabird, crustaceans and bony fishes like oarfish, barracuda, marlin, tuna and mackerel. They can grow up to 13 feet in length. While there are accounts of divers swimming next to the species and suffering no attacks, they are advised caution and to avoid any form of provocation that could lead to a feeding frenzy, like spearing fish close to a shark or avoiding any scratching or wounding of their skin.