The Maldives, diving with critters, large and small

 

I can truly say that there is an astonishing number of things to see underwater in the Maldives!  I was expecting to see large animals like sharks, manta rays and whale sharks.  After all, that’s what I traveled all that way to see.  However, there is so much more to see than I expected.  Colorful nudibranchs, several varieties of pipe fish including ghost pipefish, many colorful varieties of scorpion fish including several leaf fish, stone fish, large and small frog fish, anemone fish (Nemo’s), blennies, gobies, and large schools of too many other fish species to mention.

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Another of my favorites, octopus, are there in abundance.  Some areas of the world, you rarely see an octopus unless you are on a night dive.  We regularly saw them in the daylight.  That was a very nice surprise!  It’s so much easier to get a picture of one in the daylight as opposed to trying to get a picture at night.

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Anyone who has done much diving with me know I love to take pictures of eels.  The are so comical and usually cooperate for a good shot.  There are a great many varieties of them in the Maldives.  From the usual green moray, you can add the black-spotted and yellow margin moray, the white mouthed moray and giant moray, the fimbriated moray and the masked moray as seen above..  Needless to say, I was in eel photography heaven!

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There are also some different varieties of stingrays.  We saw several black-blotched stingrays, usually at night.  We also saw the cow tail stingray and of course, the giant manta rays I was so excited to see.  The turtles here are not afraid of people like they are in so many destinations.  They were naturally curious and would come close to check you out just like you were checking them out.  That was really fun!

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Now for the sharks.  I have never in my life see so many sharks.  Mostly reef sharks and white tips but there were others too.  On some of the current dives, you would hook in with a reef hook and just sit there while the parade came by you.  A friend took a picture from behind, of me, taking a picture of a shark swimming by – very close to me- and you can see the image I am taking in the display of my camera.  It was really a cool picture.  The picture above may be the shot I was taking, I’m not sure.  There were so many dives with sharks it almost became mundane (almost!).  Normally, you just don’t ever get enough of seeing sharks.  I was so impressed with the numbers here.

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In short, the Maldives is a very special dive destination!  It took me several years of planning to get there but it was more than worth the effort.  You can do a live-aboard or a shore based trip but to truly experience the magnificence, you really should do a live-aboard.  They come in all sizes, shapes and price ranges.  You can do a no frills, shared bath type, a step higher – not fancy to fancy -with en-suite bath or you can go total luxury.  It’s all about what is important to you and what you want to spend.  We did a mid-priced one with en-suite bath and a really well regarded dive staff known for finding what you want to see.  It is called the Stingray and the staff did a fabulous job of finding everything we told them we came to see and them some!  We were an eclectic group from the U.S, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.  It made for a really interesting group and you could learn so much.  I couldn’t have picked a better boat with a better staff and dive team!  They did a wonderful job.

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