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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Marine Life in the Maldives – The Archipelagos Biggest Lure
Joanna James Joanna James
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Marine Life in the Maldives – The Archipelagos Biggest Lure

Swim with fish, bask on white sand beaches and enjoy the Indian Ocean like never before. The Maldivian archipelago of 1,190 islands is a sanctuary for exotic marine life, waiting to be discovered.


The Reef System

Having evolved over millions of years, the Maldives reef eco-system is the base for the 1,190 islands that form the archipelago. An ever evolving system, the coral reefs that circle every island are formed by limestone skeletons, which are secretions that are left back by live coral which grows on old dead coral gradually forming the reef. There are many types of coral in the Maldives; some are found growing as solitary creatures while others thrive as colonies. In order to sustain this ever important reef system many hotels like Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, have initiated coral adaptation programmes that involve guests, encouraging them to adopt and sponsor the growth of a new coral cluster.


The Corals of Maldives

A coral growth consists of little polyps; these are rarely seen during the day as they stay retracted and only expand for feeding at night. The polyps are equipped with tentacles that have a stinging spray, which immobilises any unsuspecting prey that happens to swim by. While this type of coral is found on the seabed or at greater depths, the reef building variety, live closer to the surface where there is more sunlight. With more exposure to sunlight, coral bleaching occurs and they turn white. A disastrous effect witnessed in the Maldives was the 1998 El Nino effect, which destroyed a huge number of coral beds. However, due to conservation efforts by many Maldives resorts and the government, the reefs are almost back to normal.


Reef Dwelling Species

Amongst the coral reefs are a number of exotic marine animals. These include the filter feeders such as, sponges, molluscs or clams, sea squirts, starfish, feather starfish, banded coral shrimp and hermit crabs; part of the allure, when snorkelling in the Maldives, these creatures are fascinating to discover.


Fish Species

Prepare to be amazed by Maldives marine life, as there are over 700 species thriving in the Indian Ocean. They are categorised as pelagic and reef fish. The latter can be easily spotted via a snorkelling tour of the reef while scuba diving expeditions will yield a fascinating variety of pelagic fish; that also includes the elusive whale shark. Others to watch out for when exploring the depths of the ocean are dolphins, turtles and sharks, which at times can be seen swimming close to the reefs when in search of food.


Sharks in the Maldives

You will spot young reef sharks, not more than 50cm long feeding on small fish and swim in the lagoons; they are totally harmless. Adult sharks can be spotted in deep water with the Maldives being home to the black or white tipped reef shark, hammerheads, the gentle whale sharks, tiger sharks and endangered blue sharks.