Look But Don’t Touch! Maldives Marine Creatures

18 Feb 2022

When you first snorkel or scuba dive in the Maldives, it can seem as if you’ve been transported to another world, one of colour and life and countless weird and wonderful things to see. Some of the marine life is so well camouflaged that, at first glance, you wouldn’t even notice it. Scuba diving amongst the huge abundance of marine life in the Maldives is extremely safe, you just have to look and admire but never touch – this is important to protect the reefs and inhabitants as well as keeping yourself safe too.

Black cheek moray – these live in crevices in the reef and there are often convenient-looking places to hold onto in a strong current or to steady yourself but, if you do so, you might be in for a painful nip from the moray residing there.

Sting rays – often found swimming close to, or resting on the bottom of sandy areas including sandy overhangs. Don’t block their exit from overhangs or dive closely overhead; the barb on their tail is only used in self defence when they feel threatened.

Surgeon fish – there are many different species with a huge variety of colour and pattern and can often be seen in large schools on the reef. They are characterised by sharp blade-like spines at the base of the tail – as long as you’re not flapping your arms about while diving amongst them, they pose no risk.

Barracuda – these long silver fish with a pronounced lower jaw and a mouth full of sharp teeth can look menacing, but as long as you’re not trying to feed them or waving your fingers adorned with sparkling rings in front of them, your sighting will be incident free.

Fire coral – not true corals but a hydrocorals, exhibiting similar characteristics to hydrozoans which can give an irritating sting if touched – follow the ‘don’t touch the reef’ rule.

Stone fish and Scorpion fish – these two are masters of camouflage, they look like part of the reef and it’s only when you look closely that you see their eyes and mouth and then the rest of their body. They have poisonous spines along their back so if you grab hold of one of these thinking it’s the reef it will be a very painful lesson. Immediate medical help should be sought.

Lion fish – one of the most flamboyant fish in the sea, the lion fish is very beautiful and looks like it has feathers for fins. As with the stonefish and scorpion fish, there are poisonous spines on its dorsal fins and will deliver a painful sting if touched.

Triggerfish – there and many different kinds but the titan triggerfish is the one to be aware of; when nesting they are extremely territorial and will chase divers or snorkelers away. They are often seen moving pieces of dead coral in the sand and a ‘crater’ type nest can sometimes be spotted – do not swim above this, swim around giving them lots of space.

Sharks – we are very lucky to have a huge variety of sharks in the Maldives, they are fascinating creatures and it’s a true privilege to spend time with them in their natural environment. You are not on their menu, simply enjoy and look forward to telling the tales to astonished non-diving friends! If you are still a little unnerved about sharing the water with sharks, take the opportunity to complete the PADI Maldivian Shark and Ray Diver specialty course during your holiday and soon you’ll love them as much as we do!

Good buoyancy control is the key to controlling your position in the water and not needing to wave your arms about; sign up for the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course and transform not only your diving position but your air consumption too. Remember, divers and snorkelers are not the natural prey of marine creatures, but we are visitors to their world so dive respectfully and you will enjoy fabulous diving with safe and unforgettable close encounters.

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