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Manta rays secret life revealed

November 19th, 2009 Comments off

by Matt Walker Editor, BBC Earth News

The once secret life of a huge, recently discovered species of manta ray has been unveiled.

Biologist Dr Andrea Marshall has discovered that the giant fish, which she first described as new to science last year, undertakes huge journeys.

As well as making the longest migration known across the Indian Ocean, the fish gathers in large numbers to feed and survives attacks by sharks.

The behavior is revealed in the BBC documentary series Natural World.

Growing up to 7m wide, manta rays are the largest living ray in the ocean and one of the largest of all fish.

Previously, it was thought there was just one species of manta ray, known by the scientific name Manta birostris.

But the more Dr Marshall swam with them, the more she noticed how different manta rays that frequent reefs and the open ocean are, both in their behavior and markings.

Mantas evolved from sting rays, and it was thought they had lost their sting. But Dr Marshall has found that the larger ocean-going mantas have retained a vestigial sting on their tails, proving that the two are separate species.

In July last year, she announced the discovery that there are not one but two species of manta ray at the American Elasmobranch Society’s annual conference in Montreal, Canada.

Manta Ray Manta rays secret life revealed

Manta Ray

The larger giant mantas retain the name Manta birostris, while the reef-going mantas have been newly named Manta alfredi, in tribute to Alfred Whitley who first scientifically described manta rays in the 1930s.

However, Dr Marshall’s studies have uniquely revealed a host of manta ray behaviors.

The rays sometimes swim across the ocean floor, skimming the reefs with their mouths, a behavior filmed by the camera crew for the first time.

Usually the fish feed on plankton, but what they feed on when skimming is unclear.

Dr Marshall studies manta rays off the coast of Tofo in southern Mozambique.

It was always thought that manta rays stayed in shallow waters.

Manta ray mating behavior

But Dr Marshall has discovered that the larger giant species of manta ray dives deeply, and migrates 700 miles (1,100km) in just 60 days to the Maldives, the longest migration known for a fish living in the Indian Ocean.

In the Maldives, researchers have also uncovered a unique gathering place of reef mantas, where hundreds of the fish gather.

Around 80% of the fish are female, with many pregnant, suggesting the area is a critical breeding site for the species.

Studies by Dr Marshall and colleague Dr Simon Pierce of the Manta Ray and Whale Shark Research Centre based at Tofo Beach in southern Mozambique have also revealed that manta rays living off Tofo bear huge scars inflicted by large sharks.

Mysterious giants Manta rays secret life revealed

Mysterious giants

Manta rays appear capable of surviving such attacks and will queue up to have their wounds tended by cleaner fish, which nibble at the wound to remove dead tissue and prevent infection.

Dr Marshall’s studies have also revealed new aspects to the fishes’ reproduction.

Many male mantas follow a single female, mirroring her behavior in a bid to attract her as a mate.

Females, which give birth to a single pup after a 12-month gestation, rarely give birth in consecutive years, Dr Marshall has found.

That extremely slow reproduction could place the fish in danger from overfishing, both for subsistence and for export to be used in traditional Chinese medicines.

Upcoming Diving Season in the Maldives

November 8th, 2009 Comments off

A new diving season has arrive in the Maldives…

For more information on diving holidays, visit Maldives Dive Travel now!

The Maldives, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean and comprised of over 1000 atolls, features some of the world’s best scuba diving sites

Maldives Diving Season

Iruvai, the North-East Monsoon, brings with her the Maldivian dry season, ushering in a distinct diving season.

Maldives Weather

The Indian Ocean has a great effect on the climate in Maldives by acting as a heat buffer; absorbing, storing, and slowly releasing the tropical heat. The temperature of the Maldives ranges between 24°C and 33°C throughout the year. Although the humidity is relatively high, the constant cool sea breezes keep the air moving and the heat mitigated.

The weather in the Maldives is affected by the large landmass of South Asia to the north. The presence of this landmass causes differential heating of land and water. These factors set off a rush of moisture-rich air from the Indian Ocean over South Asia, resulting in the southwest monsoon.

Two seasons dominate Maldives’ weather: The dry season, associated with the winter northeast monsoon “IRUVAI,” and the rainy season, brought by the summer southwest monsoon “HULHANGU.”

According to the traditional Maldivian calendar, the IRUVAI begins in December with typically strong, unsettled winds and rough seas that gradually travel down the Maldives from the north. It is divided into nine “Nakaiy,” or periods, with the last “Nakaiy” finishing in April. The “Iruvai” brings the driest weather period to the Maldives, where the air possesses a comparatively short sea track compared with that during the remainder of the year.

Diver hooked on the reef using a current hook. Upcoming Diving Season in the Maldives

Diver hooked on the reef using a current hook

Currents in the Maldives

The exposure of the Maldives to the vast Indian Ocean ensures that an immense body of water is constantly flowing across the plateau on which these atolls are built. Oceanic currents are largely influenced by the direction of the trade winds. They flow from the NE to SW during the Iruvai and from SW to NE during the Hulhangu. They are of great strength, where currents in the channels near Male’ have been recorded at four knots or more.

Tidal currents flow according to the height of the tide and the direction of the prevailing winds, and are said to be much weaker than oceanic currents, though they causes velocity variations in the flow. At the atoll passages, current streams can be quite irregular due to the islands, reefs and sandy shoals.

Best Time to Dive in the Maldives

The North-East Monsoon is considered the best period to dive in the Maldives, as a result of continuous flowing of water into the atolls, especially the channels the feature clear water and lots of food for the pelagic creatures, such as the gray reef shark and the whale shark.

Due to the continuous flow of the North-East Monsoon current, the visibility becomes crystal clear, which is why this is one of the best times to go scuba diving in the Maldives.

Felidhu Atoll

The Felidhu Atoll, within the range of liveaboard diving, is often visited during the North-East Monsoon due to the high possibility of spotting some larger marine life.

Almost all the dive sites are channels in local “Kandu” based dives. The incoming current attracts lager fish and channel crossing has become a common way of performing dives in these channels. The entrances of the channels are at a depth of 28 to 30 meters and the width of these channel are no more than 150 meters.

 Upcoming Diving Season in the Maldives

Gray Reef Shark

Maldives Fish Life

Due to the North-East Monsoon‘s currents, the channels’ entrances are attractive to bigger fish, such as gray reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, schooling silver jack fish, tuna, schools of eagle ray and many more.

Early morning dives to hammerhead shark point “Fotteyo Kandu” is also a highlight during this season. Hammerheads are not only seen during the early morning hours here, but have also been seen by divers during the day.

Channels like Miyaru Kandu, Devana Kandu, Diggiri Kandu and Alimatha Dekunu Kandu are also well known among the liveaboards.

In addition to Felidu Atoll, other atolls, North and South Male’, Ari atoll, Meenu atoll and Baa atoll are also considered to be excellent diving sites during the North-East Monsoon.

If you are booked for a diving holiday this season, I strongly recommend that all the divers possess a current hook, have your scuba gear tuned up and get ready for a new season of diving in the Maldives!

For more information on diving holidays, visit Maldives Dive Travel now!

Maldives own Anemone Fish

November 2nd, 2009 Comments off

Amphiprion nigripes, also known as the Black finned anemone fish or Maldives anemone fish, is a clown fish of the genus Amphiprion. The Maldives own anemonefish, not know from anywhere else except nearby Sri Lanka.

Anemone fishes are specialized damselfishes that have adapted to living in a symbiotic relationship with anemones, and to such extend that they are rarely seen away from their host. There are about 30 species, all except one in the genus Amphiprion, 3 of which know from the Maldives.

 Maldives own Anemone Fish

Maldives own Black Finned Anemone fish

They can be found through most of the Indo- pacific and of the 1000 or so anemone species. The anemone doesn’t sting the fish as it recognizes it as being part of itself. Anemone fish feed on food drifting past and diet comprises zoo-plankton but may also nibble on algae growing coral bases nearby.

This clownfish is characterized by its rusty, orange color with a single white stripe running vertically just behind the eye. It can attain a maximum length of 4.3in. (11cm).

The Black finned Anemone fish is found in the Western Indian Ocean among the coral reefs of the Maldive Islands and Sri Lanka. It is often associated with the magnificent sea anemone, and typically lives in small groups. Black Finned Anemone is widely distributed all around reefs of Maldives and can be found at reef crests and slopes to depth of about 15 meters.

Maldives Fish: Where to discover Maldives Marine Life

October 26th, 2009 Comments off

Maldives Fish are amongst the most beautiful marine life in the Maldives!

Paracanthurus hepatus (Regal Tang) is a colorful reef fish in the family Acanthuridae. A fish in marine aquaria, it is the only member of the genus Paracanthurus. A number of common names are attributed to the species, including palette surgeonfish, blue tang, royal blue tang, hippo tang, flag tail surgeonfish and blue surgeonfish.

Paracanthurus hepatus has a royal blue body, yellow tail, and black ‘palette’ design. The lower body is yellow in the west-central Indian Ocean. It grows to 31 cm (12.25 in.). The species’ range is broad, but it is nowhere common. It can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is seen in reefs of East Africa, Japan, Samoa, New Caledonia, and the Great Barrier Reef.

The blue tang is not evaluated by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), but is of low vulnerability.

As a juvenile, its diet consists primarily of plankton. Adults are omnivore and feed on plankton, but will also graze on algae. Spawning occurs during late afternoon and evening hours. This event is indicated by a change in color from a uniform dark blue to a pale blue.

The blue tang is of minor commercial fisheries importance; however, it is a bait fish. The flesh has a strong odor and is not highly prized. This fish may cause ciguatera poisoning if consumed by humans. However, blue tangs are collected commercially for the aquarium trade. Handling the tang risks the chances of being badly cut by the caudal spine. These spines, on both sides of the caudal peduncle, are extended from the body when the fish becomes excited. The quick, thrashing sideways motion of the tail can produce deep wounds that result in swelling and discoloration, posing a risk of infection. It is believed that some species of Acanthurus have venom glands while others do not. The spines are used only as a method of protection against aggressors.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Acanthuridae

Genus: Paracanthurus

Species: P. hepatus

Binomial name: Paracanthurus hepatus

 Maldives Fish: Where to discover Maldives Marine Life

Regal Tang at Rakeedhoo Corner

Where to find Paracanthurus hepatus (Regal Tang) in Maldives.

Regal Tang is not that common in Maldivian reef and appears to be localized in only few areas. Occurs on current-prone reef crests to about 20 meters depth. Indian Ocean population differs slightly in colour from Pacific fish when adult, in having white instead of blue along the loawer boady. The two forms are probably sub specifics. Juveniles form small groups and quickly dive for cover in small Acropora coral thickets.

Let’s start from north Male’ atoll Banana Reef: On the top reef on the eastern side are small acropora table corals. The ones here are juvenile and they are very timid every time a diver or snorkeler approaches they swim inside the coral and hide. But if you wait at a safe distance they will eventually come out.

Moving to Felidhu Atoll, Rakeedhoo Corner : If you start the dive with an outgoing current most probably the ending would be at the outer reef, where you will find hug coral blocks at the top of reef. The reef top is about 5 to 6 meters and this is a perfect place to spend your last minutes of the dive. The regal tangs here are a bit larger than what I have seen in north male’ atoll but the behavior remains the same. Getting a picture of these tangs is not an easy task.

Southern Ari atoll, Rangali Madivaru: During the past years I have spotted them on the southern side of Rangali madivaru reef under very similar conditions like hiding inside the small table corals. On the southern side the coral growth is not much, its mainly sand. The best way to perform would be after you dive for mantas swim inside the atoll if the current allows it.

350.org event continues in Male the capital city of Maldives

October 24th, 2009 Comments off

350.org dive rally began last night at 00:00 hrs in the capital city of Male’, Maldives and continues 24 hours. The event was held at the lagoon in front of Presidential Office. More than 150 scuba divers took part in this event including local divers and foreign expatriate divers.

 350.org event  continues in Male the capital city of Maldives

350 dive briefing

 350.org event  continues in Male the capital city of Maldives

A gaint stride towards 350

 350.org event  continues in Male the capital city of Maldives

Divers ready to descent underwater

 350.org event  continues in Male the capital city of Maldives

350 formation with safety balloons

 350.org event  continues in Male the capital city of Maldives

Underwater 350 formation


The perils of plastic

October 22nd, 2009 Comments off

A report by Maldives Minivan News

From polythene bags to nappies, a growing tide of plastic is destroying beaches and harming coral reefs and marine life in the Maldives. Talk to any marine biologist in the country and you will hear tales of plastic bags smothering corals, or turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish and swallowing them whole.

“I dive pretty much every day and come back with plastic bottles and bags,” says Abbie Hine, a marine biologist at Four Seasons. “There’s a lot of stuff down there and with the incredible marine life here it gets ingested by a lot of animals.”

Most plastic is not biodegradable and remains in the oceans for centuries. Naturally buoyant, it gets carried across vast distances, breaking down into successively smaller particles which are ingested by creatures lower and lower down the food chain. Throw in the effects of climate change, ocean acidification and overfishing, and marine animals appear to be fighting a losing battle. “Scientists are now saying there’s more plastic than plankton in the ocean,” says Hine.

Hussein Zahir, a senior reef ecologist at the Marine Research Centre, attributes the rise in plastic debris to a change in lifestyle in the Maldives. While consumption of inorganic goods, such as bottled water, has increased, he says, waste disposal methods have remained the same.

Traditionally, waste has been disposed of at designated areas on the beach, or piled up on uninhabited parts of an island for natural composition. But in reality, most of it ends up in the sea. The word for beach in Dhivehi, “godudhoh”, literally means dumping site. “People think that the ocean is a big waste bin,” says Mairyam Shafiya, assistant research officer at the Marine Research Centre. A report on marine litter published by the United Nations Environment Agency in June, notes that one of the main sources of marine litter around he world is from dumpsites located near the coast.

Maldives Underwater Sea Turtle The perils of plastic

Sea Turtle in the Maldives

Adam Rasheed, a wind-surfing instructor, from Shaviyani atoll Feydhoo, says that while there is an allocated spot for rubbish on his island, most people throw their litter onto the beaches and into the bushes. “In one or two years, we won’t be able to even walk there. It’s not only one place. It’s everywhere,” he says. “I went snorkelling yesterday for lobsters and saw two or three nappies, three to four plastic bags and some clothes.”

Cultural change

Plastic debris left over from fishing is another source of marine litter, leading to the entanglement of marine animals in fishing lines and nets. “We have found Olive Ridley turtles before. We have collected quite a few entangled in nets. Sometimes dead, sometimes alive, sometimes disabled,” says Zahir. But, he says, there is very little that can be done about ghost nets which are believed to float down from India and Sri Lanka. Discarded fishing lines, he says, are mainly left behind by tourists on recreational fishing trips.

The impact of marine litter on the environment can result in serious economic losses, especially important in the Maldives, which relies heavily on both tourism and fishing as two of its primary sources of income. A joint UN-government entitled Valuing Biodiversity published earlier this year established unequivocal links between biodiversity and the economy. It examines the tourism and fisheries sectors which provide three-quarters of the country’s jobs, 90 per cent of the GDP and two-thirds of the foreign exchange earnings.

While the government has no specific objectives to reduce the use of plastic, it is working towards establishing a solid waste management system, says Ahmed Murthaza, assistant director of the Environment Protection Agency. He adds that regulations are being drawn up to establish waste collection points and disposal, and should be completed by January next year.

“There’s a lot of work that we need to do,” says Murthaza. “We need to charge more for plastic bags and not charge for environmentally-friendly products. Changing behaviour is not a very easy thing. We don’t be able to do it overnight.” Littering, according to the UN report, has largely cultural roots with current attitudes and behaviour demonstrating that people do not feel responsible for their rubbish.

Plastic-bag free

On World Ocean Day in June, the head of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) called for a world-wide ban on thin film plastic bags, which he described as “pointless”. Achim Steimer, UN under-secretary-general and UNEP executive director said marine litter was symptomatic of a wider malaise: the wasteful use and poor management of natural resources.

“The plastic bags, bottles and other debris piling up in the oceans and seas could be dramatically reduced by improved waste reduction, waste management and recycling initiatives,” he said. “Some of the litter, like thin film single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased-out rapidly everywhere – there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere.” Steimer added other waste could be cut by boosting public awareness, and promoting the three Rs – reduce, re-use and recycle – rather than dumping waste into the sea.

Around the world, a number of countries have banned or limited the use of plastic bags. One of the biggest successes is Ireland, which in 2002 passed a plastic bag tax, around Rf4, charged at the till. Within weeks there was a 94 per cent drop in plastic bag use. France is aiming for a complete ban by 2010.

Even in the developing world, countries have been making efforts to restrict the use of plastic bags. In May 2003, South Africa set the ball rolling by banning thinner plastic bags and charging levies on thicker ones with Kenya and Uganda following suit in 2007. In 2005, Eritrea, Rwanda and Somalia all banned plastic bags. In South Asia, Bangladesh imposed a ban on light-weight plastic bags in the capital, Dhaka, while Mumbai, in India, banned plastic bags in 2000.

 The perils of plastic

Stunning Coral Reef Garden in the Maldives

For Hine, most people in the Maldives simply do not think about their use of plastic. When in Male’, she says, her refusal of plastic bags in shops is met with perplexed looks. “I would love to get the Maldives plastic-bag free,” she says. “The government is very proactive on the environment and this would be a way to keep the global attention on the country.”

The coral gardens of Maldives.

October 20th, 2009 Comments off

Acropora or commonly called table corals is a genus of coral in the phylum Cnidaria. Depending on the species and location, Acropora may grow as plates or slender or broad branches. Like other corals, Acropora corals are actually colonies of individuals, known as polyps, which are about 2 mm across and share tissue and a nerve net. The polyps can withdraw back into the coral in response to movement or disturbance by possible predators, but when undisturbed they protrude slightly. The polyps usually extend further at night as they capture zooplankton from the water.

 The coral gardens of Maldives.

table coral at Kalhahandhi kandu

Acropora genus corals are most common in shallow reef environments with bright light and moderate to high water motion. Many small reef fishes live near acropora colonies and retreat into the thicket of branches if threatened.

Fragileness

These corals have zooxanthellae, symbiotic algae that live in the corals’ cells and produce energy for the animals through photosynthesis. Environmental destruction has led to a dwindling of populations of Acropora, along with other coral species. Acropora corals are especially susceptible to bleaching when stressed. Bleaching is due to the loss of the coral’s zooxanthellae, which are a golden-brown color. Bleached corals are stark white and may die if new zooxanthellae cannot be assimilated. Common causes of bleaching and coral death include pollution, abnormally warm water temperatures, increased ocean acidification, sedimentation, and eutrophication.

Locations

It’s not only the big fishes that you count on a dive, seeing some healthy coral growth brings the complete satisfaction on a dive.

In Maldives there are vast unexplored reefs which display beautiful coral gardens. These reef tops are rich in table coral growth. For example there are few reefs or dive sites on south and north Ari atoll that proves this.

 The coral gardens of Maldives.

Panettone table corals

Kalhahandhi kandu also know as Panettone is one of the best places to discover healthy table corals on the top reef between safety stop depths. Ideal location for snorkelers and scuba divers.

Rangali Madivaru at southern west of Ari atoll, the inner part of the reef has a fantastic stretch of table corals. The best time to dive here is the south west monsoon when the current flows from west to east.

Kandholhudhoo House Reef has a spectacular house reef that displays different species of hard corals mainly dominated by Acropora. This is fantastic reef for beginners, snorkelers and advanced divers to increase their knowledge in different species of hard corals.

From underwater, Maldives sends warning on climate change

October 18th, 2009 Comments off

Underwater Cabinet Meeting about Climate Change in the Maldives

With fish as witnesses, the president of Maldives and his Cabinet wore scuba gear and used hand signals Saturday at an underwater meeting to highlight the threat climate change poses to the archipelago nation.

The Maldives declaration will be presented at a U.N. summit on climate change in December.

The meeting, chaired by President Mohamed Nasheed, took place around a table about 16 feet (5 meters) underwater, according to the president’s Web site. Bubbles ascended from the face masks the president and the Cabinet wore, and fish swam around them.

At the meeting, the Cabinet signed a declaration calling for global cuts in carbon emissions that will be presented before a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

Maldivian ministers signed a climate change document under water From underwater, Maldives sends warning on climate change

“We are trying to send our message to let the world know what is happening and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change isn’t checked,” Nasheed said, according to his Web site.

Asked what would happen if Copenhagen fails, the president said, “We are all going to die,” according to the site.

The ministers signed their wet suits, which are being auctioned, to raise money for coral reef protection in the Maldives, the Web site said.

Maldives is grappling with the very likely possibility that it will go under water if the current pace of climate change keeps rising sea levels. The Maldives is an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands south-southwest of India. Most of it lies just 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) above sea level.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change has forecast a rise in sea levels of at least 7.1 inches (18 cm) by the end of the century.

The country’s capital, Male, is protected by sea walls. But creating a similar barrier around the rest of the country will be cost-prohibitive.

Soon after his election in November, Nasheed raised the possibility of finding a new homeland for the country’s 396,000 residents.

The tourist nation wants to set aside part of its annual billion-dollar revenue into buying a new homeland, he said at the time.

“We will invest in land,” he said. “We do not want to end up in refugee tents if the worst happens.”

Nasheed’s government said it has broached the idea with several countries and found them to be “receptive.”

President and the Ministers to hold the world’s first underwater Cabinet meeting tomorrow

October 16th, 2009 Comments off

A report from the Maldives News / Dhivehi Observer, October 16, 2009

The President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, and his ministers will be holding the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting tomorrow, Saturday 17 October, to draw global attention to the pressing issue of climate change.

Famed for its first-rate diving, the Maldives stands at the frontline of the climate change battle. To call attention to their country’s plight, ministers will use hand signals and slates to communicate to ratify a statement calling for rapid greenhouse gas reductions. The statement will be presented at the landmark UN climate change talks in Copenhagen this December.

Ministers have been taking scuba diving lessons with help from Divers Association Maldives (DAM) and will be awarded a PADI Discover Scuba certificates at the end of their sessions. President Nasheed is already a PADI Advanced Open Water diver.

“The ministers are fairly comfortable in the water particularly given that they’ve just started diving,” said Zoona Naseem, president of DAM and a PADI staff instructor. “None of ministers have ever been diving before except the defense minister and all of them are very enthusiastic.” Three of the ministers have expressed an interest to train for their PADI Open Water diver certificates.

The underwater meeting is part of a wider campaign by international environmental NGO 350.org.

Maldives Underwater cabinet meeting President and the Ministers to hold the world’s first underwater Cabinet meeting tomorrow

350.org is calling on political leaders to commit to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at Copenhagen. The world’s top climatologists, such as James Hansen of the NASA/Goddard Institute, caution that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide must return to the safe threshold of 350 parts per million if catastrophic global warming is to be avoided. Levels currently stand at 385ppm.

The 350.org campaign will cumulate in a global day of environmental action on 24 October. In the Maldives, 350 divers will stage a 24-hour, underwater climate protest in the Male’ lagoon. Local Maldivian NGOs will send 350 ‘Postcards from the Frontline’ to world leaders and an environmental activist will sail from Male’ to the airport island in a raft made from 350 empty plastic bottles.

After the underwater cabinet meeting on 17 October, President Nasheed will hold a press conference, where he will call for carbon dioxide reductions commensurate with the 350 target.

President Nasheed has often warned of the dangers climate change poses to the Maldives – a country so beautiful it has reached the final of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’ competition.

As the President recently remarked: “If we can’t save the Maldives today, we can’t save London, New York or Hong Kong tomorrow.”

Black Pearl seeks out for whale shark at southern Ari atoll.

October 13th, 2009 Comments off

After a fantastic dive to 5 Rocks this morning, Black Pearl began to search for whale shark.

The dive to 5 Rock was nice and easy, while the current remained mild throughout the dive and all the divers got to enjoy and observe the beauty of this unique formation of reef.

Although the visibility remained poor (7 meters), the fish life was more than acceptable. Few white tips reef sharks and napoleon were the high light.

  Black Pearl seeks out for whale shark at southern Ari atoll.

The search began after the breakfast on the dive dhoni , starting from Dhigurah Beyru till Maamingili and past Sun Island.

The one we spotted didn’t last very long but at least all the divers could snorkel for about 5 minutes.

The 2nd dive was to Sun Island Outer Reef and on this dive were few turtles and white tip reef sharks.

Third and last dive for the day was to Dhigurah Thila: This spectacular old time favorite is located at the southern Ari atoll a kilometer north of Dhigurah Island. The eastern side of the Thila is exposed to ocean currents and drops quickly down from 8 meters to the ocean plateau at 45 meters. The reef wall is about 400 meters long, the whole length interspersed with caves and overhangs. Midway along the Thila on the eastern side is a fracture in the reef, starting at 15 meters and descending to 40 meters.

Depth range: 8 – 30 meters.

Marine life: The fracture is crowded with marine life of all types and sizes. Check out the coral outcrops along the wall of the Thila. In the southwest monsoon make it a point of watching out for the whale sharks that are commonly seen here.