Although the Maldives are known the world over for the stunning beaches and azure waters that typify the tropical idyll, its life beneath the water’s surface is becoming ever more respected by divers in the know. The Maldive Islands have some excellent coral reefs, but it’s the abundance of fish life throughout the country that sets it apart from other dive destinations.
Most diving in the Maldives is drift dives from liveaboards where you allow the current to move you along. Due to the myriad channels and passages between the atolls, the currents sweep and play throughout the island chain so that nutrients are always on the move. This accounts for the vast numbers of fish enjoying the passing feast and you can expect to see Napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, snappers, barracudas, jacks and sweetlips in every site where the water flows.
In the channels, you can explore the caves, caverns and overhangs where soft corals proliferate, and there is a riot of colourful sponges, invertebrates and gorgonian fans all profiting from the nutrient-rich water. There are also plenty of cleaning stations where cleaning wrasses and shrimps service the larger marine species.
Inside the atoll lagoons you often find pinnacles of rock vaulting up almost to the surface. These are known locally as ‘Thilas’ and are often bejewelled with sessile life forms. These formations bring water up from the ocean floor against their walls, feeding the sponges and soft corals that cling to its sides as well as creating an environment that supports a plethora of crustaceans and schools of resident fish.
Slightly removed from the reefs, you are likely to spot the pelagics that frequent the Maldives, including manta rays and eagle rays and a variety of sharks including the mighty whale shark. Wherever you look there is likely to be something of interest going on and for many it is in the shallows where the best of the action takes place. Here the clear water, brightly illuminated by the sun’s rays and playing host to great numbers of fish, provides an ideal environment both for photographers and divers alike.
During the El Niño of 1998 some shallower areas of the coral reefs have been adversely affected by bleaching. However the accepted view is that while the reefs are returning to their former colourful glory, the marine life has never dwindled and indeed many believe it has increased in numbers over the past few decades.
A very common question and here is the most sensible answer to that question.
No. There are around 300 different species of sharks, only 40 of which are known to have attacked
people. One of the most dangerous sharks in North America is the great white shark, found along the Pacific coast between Mexico and southern Canada. Another one to watch out for is the tiger shark, which lives in the warmer Atlantic waters off the coast of Florida and around the islands of Hawaii. Shark attacks really are pretty rare. For instance, there are usually only two or three reported in Hawaiian waters each year. There are different ideas about why sharks attack people. Tiger sharks, it seems, may attack because they get confused in murky water — and mistake surfers in black wet suits for seals. Reef sharks seem to attack because they are territorial animals, protecting their piece of the sea. The whale shark, which has 5,000 teeth and can grow up to 50 feet long, is the largest type of shark. However, it prefers food like small fish, shrimp and plankton, and therefore is not dangerous to people.
Planet Scuba India is proud to have participated in its very first International Cleanup Day event in Turtle Bay. Being a Go ECO Project Aware member and operator, PSI took the first steps into helping the environment.
At least 6 million tonnes of debris enters the world’s oceans each year, causing harm to underwater environments and wildlife. With unique access to the underwater world, scuba divers can help remove debris underwater, raise awareness and drive positive change. Project AWARE Foundation is dedicated to addressing the devastating impacts of marine debris and coordinates global beach and underwater cleanups year round.
International Cleanup Day is the biggest underwater cleanup of its kind. Held annually on the 3rd Saturday in September each year, more than 370,000 volunteers clean over 33,000 miles of shoreline to remove seven million pounds of rubbish.
This year in India David Perry, Operations Manager and instructor at Planet Scuba India registered with Project AWARE and visited Turtle Bay for the cleanup. Joining hands with Turtle Bay Resort Kundapur they initiated the beach clean up. They were helped by participants from FSL (Field Study Learn) an NGO, International students from Germany, Australia and Switzerland, many local kids, teens from the local Youth Club, members from the local church and patrons of the Lions Club. Close to 60 participants helped clean the local beach by picking up litter.
Dominic a PSI representative said the litter they picked up could have filled an entire tempo van. With almost 150 bags of rubbish consisting mostly of plastic bags, glass bottles, shoes and other forms of trash.
It was not all work with no fun, participants had a fun round of beach volleyball to reward themselves for their hard work. Turtle Bay Resort sponsored food and drinks for the participants.
It is through events like this that PSI hopes to spread awareness about protecting our eco system and to lead people with a hands on approach to protect our earth. It is important for people to come together as a community and start making International Beach Clean Up, not only a yearly event but hopefully a monthly event in all parts of the world.
— JULES VERNE
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Marine ecosystems cover approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain approximately 97% of the planet’s water.
Why is aquatic ecosystem health important to humans? Because everything is connected, where an ecosystem is out of balance eventually humans will begin to suffer as well. Our health and many of our activities are dependent on the health of aquatic ecosystems. Most of the water that we drink is taken from lakes or rivers. If the lake or river system is unhealthy, the water may be unsafe to drink or unsuitable for industry, agriculture, or recreation – even after treatment.
The proliferation of non-native species has created problems. One recent example is the rapidly expanding zebra mussel population. Zebra mussels have few natural predators, and because the female can produce 30000 eggs yearly, they are expected to spread throughout most of the freshwater systems. This mussel species is already clogging industrial and municipal water treatment intake pipes, coating boats and piers, and causing beach closures.
Because we share the world with many other species of plants and animals, we must consider the consequences of our actions. Over the past several decades, increasing human activity has rapidly destroyed or polluted many ecological habitats throughout the world. It is important to preserve all types of biomes as each houses many unique forms of life. However, the continued heavy exploitation of certain biomes, such as the forest, freshwater, and marine, may have more severe implications.
We at Planet Scuba recognize the threats to the marine ecosystem and realize that awareness about these threats is minimal in India. Through our diving courses, we hope to make the whole experience fun and educative, and ensure that people can appreciate the natural beauty in abundance in our oceans and follow appropriate measures to safeguard them.