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Shark Mania – More Memorable Maldives Moments

December 2nd, 2013 Comments off

It’s that time again.  Reminiscing about Maldives trips past and the emotions they can still conjure up.  This week we bring you a contest entry by Ken from England.  He reminds us that the group you dive with can really make the whole experience.  He also had great sightings on every dive – read about the many sharks he encountered on his liveaboard trip in the Maldives.

 

Shark Mania Relived

By Ken, England

My non-diving wife Karen and I visited the Maldives to experience the wonderful climate, friendly people and unbelievable underwater life in this fantastic corner of the world.

We were met at Male airport by our dive guide for the week and soon transported to Stingray along with our fellow travellers who turned out to be the most friendly and varied bunch of international people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We had Russian, Spanish, American, Czech, German and us Brits along with our local crew and guides all getting along famously both on board and underwater sharing and appreciating the most amazing experiences.

 

black tip reef shark maldives Shayan USA Shark Mania   More Memorable Maldives Moments

Black tip reef shark Maldives. Photo: Shayan (USA) / Flickr

Watching the trip fill up online, anticipating who was going to be aboard, whether the trip would fill up, wondering which sites we would dive were all part of the build up adding to the excitement. We did not need to worry as the crew took us to the action and creatures we wanted to see on EVERY dive. Mantas and sharks on the first dive, manta feeding station with the magnificent creatures an arms length away on the second dive, and so it continued. Whale sharks, guitar sharks, leopard sharks, turtles, reef, black-tip, white-tip sharks galore! The night dive on Maaya Thila was a special moment, as were the evenings watching the Mantas feed off the back of the Stingray boat after another wonderful supper prepared by our super efficient crew.  There was also wondering who the squid, caught by our Russian friend Nick, was going to soak with ink as he hauled them aboard. Two extra special moments stand out.

squid maldives Shark Mania   More Memorable Maldives Moments

Squid in the Maldives. When caught their colour changes and ink released as a protective measure. Photo: Jon Connell / Flickr

 

Firstly, the evening spent on the uninhibited island having a barbecue with our new friends the crew who worked so hard to make the evening memorable with the food and the decorations in the sand. Secondly, the last dive! We had visited Rasdhoo for a dive and to go on the island to visit during the day.  In the morning we were to have a very early dive. As we kitted up everyone was tense with anticipation. We dropped into the perpetually warm waters at dawn and descended to the twilight at 30m. After about 10 minutes, just as predicted by the guides, there, out of the gloom swam not one, not two but three huge Hammerheads 10m below us. We descended to get a better look and they circled back to do the same, before cruising on into the Blue. An absolutely unforgettable moment which will live with me forever !

Our group broke up later that morning with some heading home, others off to resorts and the crew off to meet their next guests (if they had half the fun and saw half as much as we did then they also will have had a great trip ). We have kept in touch and swapped photos and memories since via email etc. I would go back to the Maldives and dive with Deco and his crew in a heartbeat. I am already saving for my next trip in case I don’t win this excellent competition and it will of course be with Maldives dive travel who delivered on everything promised and a heck of a lot more.

 

Creatures of Rasdhoo Atoll – video:


 

The above article puts Ken in the running for one of several prices up for grabs – including a one-week liveaboard trip on one of our boats!  Share your Maldives experience with us, whether it includes diving or not.  Didn’t book with us?  No problem.  We’re passionate about the Maldives and we want to hear from anyone that enjoys it as much as we do.  For contest details and entry form click here.

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You Can Count on Me! Maldives Symbiotic Marine Relationships

November 26th, 2013 Comments off

Dependency and interconnectedness are not unexpected qualities in a secluded island nation such as the Maldives.  With limited access to resources and a limited area in which to live, bonds form within communities for survival and to facilitate daily life.  Some creatures share a stronger bond than others, however, in the marine underworld.

Symbiotic Sustenance

The close and long-term interaction between different species is called symbiosis.  These interrelated species generally demonstrate lifelong connections of a physical and biochemical nature.   That is, they depend on each other for life sustaining routines.  Among the marine life in the Maldives many mutualistic relationships can be seen, in which both organisms benefit from the bond.  These displays of interdependence show us just how connected the web of life can be and may even teach us a thing or two about sharing.  A great lesson for the kids.

 

clown fish anemone You Can Count on Me!  Maldives Symbiotic Marine Relationships

Intertwined lives of the clown fish and the anemone

 

Clown fish for the Symbiotic Photography Prize

Of the most photogenic pairs of symbiotic creatures on the Maldives reef, there is the clown fish and the anemone.  The well-known Finding Nemo fish doesn’t stray far from the usually stinging anemone.  The fish’s immunity to the anemone sting allows it to nestle within, where it feeds off small invertebrates, effectively protecting the anemone while feeding itself.  The anemone also benefits from the nutrients provided to it from the faecal matter of the fish.

At first glance, we don’t see this multifaceted liaison between the pair.  Once it’s apparent though, spotting the fish pop in and out of the anemone while diving becomes a more enlightening experience and the cute photos of fish heads poking out of the anemone, like this one, are more meaningful.

 

An Affair That Sustains the Reef

Of the most important relationships between reef organisms, there is that of coral and algae.  Coral is the heart of the reef on which the rest of the creatures depend for shelter and nutrients, while the coral is fed by them as well.

Within the corals themselves there’s an even more dependent relationship between the coral polyps and the algae that live within their cells.  The algae have the all-important role of producing energy through photosynthesis.  Taking light and converting it into energy is a common process for plants but not all plants so closely support other intertwined forms of life.

A red coral with white plankton catchers all over itself seen in the Maldives 600x449 You Can Count on Me!  Maldives Symbiotic Marine Relationships

Red coral in the Maldives covered with white plankton catchers

 

The colour of corals also comes from the algae.  Coral bleaching, or the process of whitening as coral is on the brink of death, is the result of coral getting rid of dead algae that have not survived a rise in surrounding water temperature.  Without these algae coral lose their colour.  Coral no longer want to provide a home for algae that are not providing the nutrients they need, it’s a survival method for the coral.  If temperatures decrease to hospitable levels for the algae the coral can recover over time.

The Maldives is an example of the recovery that coral can make.  The El Nino in 1998 caused mass bleaching in the region with just a 3 degree rise in water temperature but exponential regrowth has been seen.   In addition coral breeding and regrowth projects have been initiated to offset human impacts that have slowed the comeback.

Without the coral reef the entire ecosystem is threatened so nurturing the symbiotic relationship between coral polyps and algae is essential.

 

 

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Symbiosis in the Maldives is often based on one creature cleaning up after another.  Certain types of fish and shrimp have a helpful role cleaning larger fish and rays.  There are nutrients in it for the cleaners and health benefits in it for the larger creatures.

The colours and swimming patterns of the cleaners are known to the larger species so they react by stiffening, ready to be cleaned.  Manta cleaning stations are an attraction in the Maldives where this process happens on a larger scale.  Mantas and two-tone wrasse are seen together, the little fish nibbling on the mantas as they glide by at stations like the Lankan station, Rangali Madivaru, Kudarah Thila and Donkalo Thila, all found in Ari Atoll.  There’s also the North Male Manta Point among many other locations to see this symbiotic relationship play out.

pufferfish cleaner wrasse tentonipete You Can Count on Me!  Maldives Symbiotic Marine Relationships

A puffer fish with a cleaner wrasse. Photo: tentonipete, Flickr

 

There are also blue streak cleaner wrasse that clean other types of fish and clear cleaner shrimp that help coral grouper fish, like in this photo.

These reciprocal relationships, or quid pro quo, show the give and take between organisms - in this case for survival.  The Maldives is full of examples of symbiosis.  When witnessed these interactions can nudge us to remember how important it is, for us too, to share what we have to benefit others.  While what we get in return may not be as immediate or as direct as these symbiotic connections, who knows what the future may hold.

 

Speaking of sharing, have you shared your Maldives experience with us?  You just might get back something big – a one week liveaboard trip!  For contest details and to submit your entry click here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Our Adventure in the Maldives – Contest Entry

November 18th, 2013 Comments off

Here’s our latest submission for the Magic Memories Contest! Click here for contest details and read this story of manta madness from Andrew of Australia:

Our Adventure in the Maldives
It all started with an email with the latest trip specials from Maldives Travel.

My Wife and I arrived at Male airport to be greeted by a crew member from our home for the next week, MV LEO, of the Constellation Fleet. A short ferry ride out in the Marina and we were ushered aboard and greeted by our Cruise Director, Brett.

Brett ushered us to our Luxurious cabin and followed up with a guided tour of the boat, complete with the rules, regulations and dive procedures and etiquettes. Paperwork was efficiently done, a few more introductions to crew and some of the other guests as they arrived, then off to our cabin to unpack, assemble our dive gear and rest.

Dinner and a good night sleep completed our arrival day in the Maldives.

Day 1 of diving had us in the water at 7.30am for the familiarising dive along Karumba House Reef then a lovely breakfast and the second dive at noon on the Lankan Manta cleaning station, lunch and a rest while we steamed across the water to Rashdoo and the Madivaru Reef where the serious diving began.

On the Madivaru reef we did a night dive, and commenced day 2 with an early morning and late morning dives where we were treated to a plethora of Marine life including hammer head sharks, eagle rays, white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks, turtles, tuna, schooling barracuda and jacks, octopus and fish of every colour and shape imaginable.

Maaya Thila was the next port of call where we did an afternoon and night dive. Both dives were spectacular with the number of sharks and fish all cruising in the currents. The night dive in particular was amazing with the night predators utilising the diver’s torchlight to find their prey easier. White tip reef sharks, red bass, giant trevallies in particular have adapted to divers as a tool in their hunting procedures. Marble rays and eels were also prevalent in the action.

Day 3 commenced with Hafsa Thila turning on a magnificent display of big current action, an hour spent watching the millions of fish hanging in the current with sharks, tuna and trevally cruising through the schools of fish. Eagle rays gracefully hanging in the current above us, sharks to the left, middle and right, tuna darting in and out made it difficult to decide just what to watch first! Fish Head was the next site on our way to Fesdu Lagoon.  A dive on the wreck and a beautiful reef head preceded a night of wonderment watching 14 Manta Rays night feeding in the krill and plankton attracted by the Boats spotlights. Manta Rays are one of the reasons we travelled to the Maldives from Australia, and we were treated to something very special that night.

This YouTube shows just how special this experience was!

 

 

Day 4 commenced with the Fesdu wreck and reef again in beautiful visibility, dives on Dega Thila and Radhdhigga Thila completed the day with more beautiful sharks, turtles, rays, tuna, and nudibranchs, flat worms, crustaceans and schools of fish. A beach BBQ on an uninhabited Island rounded off another perfect day in the MALDIVES!

Angaga Thila, White Sands and Macha Fushi Wreck gave us our last full day of diving with great reef and wreck diving and, between dives we searched for Whale Sharks, but, “Mother Nature” will deliver when she is ready and it seems she wasn’t ready to deliver Whale Sharks for us to see. ANOTHER NIGHT OF Manta action followed with a white Manta this time thrilling us with a solo performance all night long.

Our final day saw more searching for the elusive Whale Sharks with our final dive on Camel Rocks which gave us a big current drift dive to finish off with free swimming Manta Rays and beautiful coral bommies to investigate.

Maldives gave us an experience to be remembered for many years to come with the underwater and overwater beauty second to none.

MV Leo and the Dohni gave us Luxury and first rate service along with lasting friendships with the Guests and Crew alike.

 

This is why I will be planning for us to return to the Maldives:

manta Andrew Hunter 600x400 Our Adventure in the Maldives   Contest Entry

Calling you back to the Maldives. Night feeding mantas. Photo: Andrew, Australia

 
Thanks Andrew for your vivid and detailed submission of your journey around the atolls!

Enjoying reading about the Maldives experience? Have a story of your own? Send it to us today or just answer the questions on our entry form. Get all the details and submit your entry here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Dream Holidays Come True in the Maldives

November 11th, 2013 Comments off

As the stories and photos pop into our inbox we’re having the greatest time reading about your experiences in the Maldives.  This week we had a vibrant, inspirational submission from Louise from Singapore. You can read and even watch her fantastic account below in her article and video.  If you have a story of your own that you’d like to share, check out the contest details and entry form here.

 


Magic Manta Moments

Maldives has always been my dream holiday destination ever since I was young and being exposed to the Internet and travel television programs. I am automatically drawn towards the turquoise blue seas, the white sandy soft beach, the villas and water village resorts.

To me, Maldives is THE perfect honeymoon destination for the romantics and the beach lovers! A definite must go! I had always been telling my friends, one day I will be there! The urge to go Maldives grew even strong after I took up scuba diving.

Louise Sim Pretty in Pink2 Dream Holidays Come True in the Maldives

Pretty in Pink Maldives Anemone. Photo: Louise, Singapore

 

Most of the time people will say, when I have the time to travel, I do not have the sufficient money. When I have sufficient money, I do not have the time to travel. Or perhaps, you can’t find common dates to travel with your BFFs.  In Jan 2012, I happened to have both in my favour and I can’t be thankful enough.

When I was randomly browsing online for LiveOnBoard(LOB) in Maldives. I chance upon Maldives Dive Travel and added them on Facebook to get updates should there be any special promotion. The law of attraction did its magic and on the same night while I was lying down getting ready for bed while checking my Facebook on my iPhone. This special promotion for Theia LOB pops up and immediately I sense the adrenaline rush and I jumped straight out of bed, powered on my laptop and got down to “business” to secure a place for this awesome deal as there were only 2 places left when I saw it!

The coordinators in Maldives Dive Travel are very helpful and excellent in following up. They responded within the next 1 to 2 days updating me that I am on the waiting list and they will inform me at their soonest once the holding period is up and if I was in luck. Well, lady luck was definitely smiling at me.

When I arrived at Male airport I was greeted by the helpful Theia crew who assisted me with my luggage while walking towards to the dive boat. I couldn’t believe I was physically in Maldives, I felt like jumping straight into the clear blue water immediately!

 

Louise Sim Manta OMG Moment2 Dream Holidays Come True in the Maldives

Manta OMG Moment. Photo: Louise

 

This was my 1st trip alone all by myself for scuba diving in my dream destination Maldives! I had never seen a Manta before & it swam right in front me of (less than 1 metre away), it was HUGE & so graceful!

My top experiences and favourite dive spots were:

1)   Dhidhoo Outside (South Ari): Lots of activities! Octopus, frog fish, moray eel, turtle, manta, and the list goes on

2) Bodu Miyarughaa: Beautiful color corals I ever seen: pink and purple soft corals BEAUTIFUL!

3) Maaya Thila (night dive): It was so worth it. Sharks swimming all around every few seconds and big fat Stingray posing on the sea bed.

2) Kudhimaa Wreck: It’s a huge complete wreck with the turbines all intact.

Louise Sim MV Kudhi Maa2 Dream Holidays Come True in the Maldives

Kudhi Maa wreck diving. Photo: Louise, Singapore

 

What I miss the most and want to get back to are the beautiful waters, the sea creatures and the lovely Maldives people.   I’m looking forward to meeting new friends with the same passion for water sports. After another dive week I will take a ferry to Naifaru village to visit the kids and host family, where I volunteered as a pre-school teaching assistant for a month.  I miss them =)

What made my liveaboard experience great was definitely the caring crew, the fabulous food and the service. Not forgetting the fun scuba diving and snorkelling with new found friends! It is the people that made the trip such a blast!!! They were so fun and funny to be with!  I miss them all!

In end Feb 2013, I have collected my first Dive Computer, courtesy of ex colleagues and my dive instructor  for contributing to this special gift. It has been sitting there in my drawer since then. I can hear it screaming out for another scuba diving adventure in Maldives!

 

We are looking forward to more great stories – get your entries in now!  Click here for contest entry form and more details.  Looking to head to the Maldives in December or January and like to do things your own way?   Check out the deals on Dhoni Stella private charters.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Lingering Memories of Close Encounters with Mantas and Whale Sharks

November 4th, 2013 Comments off

The excitement is building as we receive more entries for the Magic Memories contest!  We’ve so far been enchanted by the photos and stories we’ve received and look forward to hearing from you too. 

Thanks to those who have participated so far.  Now, let’s reminisce about the magic of the Maldives with this recent submission by Nilesh from India:

niles manta Lingering Memories of Close Encounters with Mantas and Whale Sharks

Manta appears over the reef. Photo: Nilesh, India

 

Lingering Memories of Encounters with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks

Over the last two years, I had been constantly dreaming of visiting Maldives and diving with Mantas, Whale Sharks and the most beautiful underwater world that lies beneath crystal clear water of the magnificent Indian Ocean.

When we landed at Male, the representative Mohammad, who also happened to be one of our dive guides was there to receive us. He took us to our liveaboardDream Catcher II” by speed boat which took about 15 minutes. A very friendly and polite staff welcomed us with refreshing juices. The rooms were quite comfortable, neat and tidy. Overall the vessel was good with facilities for sun deck, bar, nice and clean dining area, sitting area and magazines that would interest divers. The main dive guide Ibu (Ibrahim is the real name I suppose) was very knowledgeable about local diving conditions and the dive sites. The next seven days that we spent on Dream Catcher II satisfactorily fulfilled our dreams of Maldives diving.  I would say – Dream Catcher very much helped us to catch our dreams.

nilesh whale shark Lingering Memories of Close Encounters with Mantas and Whale Sharks

The gentle giants of the Maldives islands. Photo: Nilesh

 

The highlight of the trip was spotting Whale Sharks in South Ari Atoll near Mamagilli. Twice we had the chance to swim with these gentle giants. These were some of the most cherished moments of the journey!

The other highlights were spotting manta rays on three of our dives. The memory of mantas hovering above the divers is an experience I won’t forget.  We were fortunate to spot them on three dives and believe me, they were huge!  We also saw freely swimming moray eels on two sites. They were just amazing!

On almost all of the dives we spotted sharks. On many sites we also found huge Napoleons. It is really difficult to pin point one dive spot as my favorite because most of the dive spots were interesting, but if I had to choose I would say that in South Ari Lily Bey and Dhigura were my favorite, we spotted mantas, a turtle, lion fish there.  In North Ari, Orimas and Fish Head had fantastic fish life. There were just so many fish.  In South Male, Madhod bridge and Lhosfushi were excellent.

nilesh sharks Lingering Memories of Close Encounters with Mantas and Whale Sharks

Sharks grace the scene of many a reef in the Maldives. Photo: Nilesh, India

 

The most impressive part of our diving was the choice of route and the dive sites which were chosen to visit. We went to various dive sites at atolls of North Male, South Male, North Ari and South Ari. The dive sites were selected based on the preferences of the divers. There were 14 divers on the trip and almost all of them wanted to see mantas and whale sharks. Divers were divided into two groups based on their skills and experience.

I discovered the trip when browsing through the net and I came across the Maldives Dive Travel website. It was very well organized and had almost all the information that dive travelers to Maldives seek.  Finally we choose “Dream Catcher II” for our dive safari in August, 2013 – for those 7 memorable days and nights that we spent aboard this comfortable vessel.  If I get to visit the Maldives again I wish to dive with hammer heads and to visit Baa Atoll in the Maldives.

Submission by: Nilesh, India

Niles moray eels edit Lingering Memories of Close Encounters with Mantas and Whale Sharks

Eels appear out of the reef. Photo: Nilesh, India

nilesh dreamcatcher2 Lingering Memories of Close Encounters with Mantas and Whale Sharks

The liveaboard that was the base for great Maldives diving. Photo: Nilesh, India

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Singing the Song of the Barra-Barracuda in the Maldives

October 29th, 2013 Comments off

The fierce “galloping guitar riff” of Heart’s famous song is the perfect theme music for the large and intimidating tropical fish known as the Barracuda.  You can hear the sounds play in your head as the big fish swims past during your dive adventures around the Maldives.

Synonymous with tropical regions and diving, barracudas are found across the world in the warm saltwater seas and oceans.  Sometimes referred to as the “tiger of the sea”, the barracuda’s stripped pattern reflects in the glimmers of underwater light.  Their long bodies, comparable to a pike, can grow up to 1.8 meters in length.

It may, however, just be the stripes and sleek slender bodies that allow for the tiger comparison, as reports of attacks on divers are very rare.  Divers can come fairly close to barracudas while diving without great worry, compared to safari participants who would have a tough time getting as close to a roaming tiger in the wild. That’s not to say divers shouldn’t exercise caution – even a cat can leave a scratch.

To avoid attracting aggressive attention from barracudas, divers should remove shiny objects that are visible on their person before diving.  Jewellery, for example can mimic the look of some fish that barracudas see as a tasty meal.   Certain types of fishing bait are made from shiny, reflective materials for a reason – and you don’t want to look like bait.

 

 

Distinguishing the Distinguished Barracuda

The great barracuda can be spotted by its spots, which are found on the lower side of their body and are black in color.  Dark stripes also decorate the upper side, making for a fantastic mishmash of patterns across its body as a whole.  Like with many species the term “great” also refers to the size as it grows to be the largest of the different barracuda species.

Blacktail, yellowtail and pickhandle barracudas are all aptly named for the shape or color of their back caudal fins.  While the yellowtail or yellowstripe barracudas share the torpedo-like shape of their great cousins their size is relatively small, up to 50-60 centimetres or one third the size.

They school when they’re young but are solitary hunters.  With their keen sense of sight and powerful jaw, they have made a name for themselves near the top of the food chain.

barracuda 2 Maaya Thila Ari Atoll Singing the Song of the Barra Barracuda in the Maldives

The slender, striped, toothy barracuda making an appearance for divers in the Maldives.

 

Barracudas Around the Maldives

You’ll see barracudas at many Maldives dive sites.  More specifically, within the Bodhu Kalhi Kandu, not too far from Male, you’ll find Okobe Thila which is also known as Barracuda Giri.  Strong currents make this a dive for those at an experience level.

Within the protected marine sanctuary of Dhigala Haa in Baa Atoll schools of barracuda have been spotted and as well at Kandooma Thila.  Great barracuda are also known to frequent Kudarah Thila in South Ari Atoll.

 

Have you seen barracudas in the Maldives or do you want to add them to your photo album?  Tell us your Maldives dive story and you could be swimming with the fish in no time, with the Magic Memories contest.  Keep reading…
 

South Ari Atoll Arto Finland Contest 600x338 Singing the Song of the Barra Barracuda in the Maldives

South Ari Atoll. Photo: Arto from Finland. Magic Maldives Contest Submission

 

Speaking of all the great fish that you can see in the Maldives, we’ve been receiving stories from past guests about their dive experiences with us.   Those stories may even win the writers a week on a liveaboard in the Maldives!  If you haven’t heard about our Magic Memories contest yet you will want to check it out now.  Send us your story and you could win one of five great prizes for dive enthusiasts including a one-week liveboard trip.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent contest entry by Arto from Finland:

My interest in the Maldives was sparked when I saw a TV documentary on the Maldives, about five years ago. Since then, I’ve been dreaming about visiting there. I started scuba diving just two years ago.  After reading some information about diving in the Maldives, I found a great opportunity to visit the Maldives in the beginning of 2012, I’m so glad that I decided to take that trip.

I came across a one-week trip on the Dream Catcher II for a reasonable price so I took advantage of it – I didn’t want to let the chance to fulfill my long-term dream pass me by. It really was worth it with the clearest water I’ve ever seen diving during my, relatively short, scuba diving “career”.  I would definitely like to come back. Actually, I was planning to take the dive master course in the Maldives, but not quite yet.

The highlight of my trip was Diving with mantas and whale sharks.  We were diving on the sites of the South Ari atolls and I have never, ever seen so many fish in one dive site. That was amazing!!!

whale shark Arto Finland Contest 600x450 Singing the Song of the Barra Barracuda in the Maldives

A close encounter with a whale shark. Photo: Arto from Finland. Contest entry.

 

As for my experience on the boat itself, the facilities were really nice, the food was great and the staff did their best despite unexpected challenges of the sea.

Winning this dive trip would be fantastic.  The clean and clear waters of the Maldives were ideal and the dive sites were in good condition, no plastic or rubbish around. It was great to see that people still do care.

Send us your story entry as soon as possible!  Can’t wait for the contest to finish and want to book a liveaboard now?  We’ve got great deals on our Theia packages for you, click here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Learn the Dive Lingo of the Maldives

October 22nd, 2013 Comments off

Love reading about Maldives diving experiences?  You’re not the only one!  Submit your dive story and photos for a chance to win a dive week with Maldives Dive Travel.  For more info CLICK HERE

 

Traveling to a foreign country often means you’ll be surrounded by a foreign language.  It doesn’t always mean that you’ll have to learn it, however.  You won’t need to learn a new language to enjoy your visit to the Maldives, but recognizing a few words will illuminate the island culture and enhance your diving experience.

Communication is key, not only for activities like diving and ordering your dinner but also just to get to know people and socialize.  In the Maldives English is widely spoken, thanks to the high emphasis placed on the tourism industry, but the Maldivian native tongue and national language is Dhivehi.     The language is restricted to the Maldives archipelago except for one island off India where a dialect of the language is spoken.  Even within the sparsely populated Maldives, there are 5 different dialects that can be heard with a finely tuned ear.  Which is not so surprising considering the scattered nature of the islands allowing for only limited contact and communication among remote regions in the past.

thila neville wootton Learn the Dive Lingo of the Maldives

Sea Anemone at Miaru Gala Thila. Photo: Neville Wootton

 

Island Vocab for Divers

It’s been said that Eskimos or Inuit people have 100 words for snow.  While this may be a bit of an exaggeration it is meant to show the considerable role that snow has in the Inuit’s life and how it affects them.  Similarly, in the Maldives it’s the islands, lagoons and reefs that dominate the lives and livelihoods of Maldivians.  Where we will use several words to describe an area of the islands, they have come up with just one.  This is much more effective when you may mention parts of a reef or lagoon on a daily basis.

For example, in English we might say “the water inside the lagoon” they just say Kandhu or for the water outside, “Maa Kandhu”.  When we describe an island as having sparse vegetation, they can just call it a Finolhu, while a larger island is referred to as Fushi.

There is a wide vocabulary related to reefs as well.  A common one heard by divers is Thila.  Many of the dive spots known to divers are called thila, which are good sized reefs found several meters below the surface.  If it’s just a small area of coral it’s a Giri, if the reef causes a wave break it’s a Fattaru and if the reef becomes exposed at low tide it’s called a Faru.

Now, you could memorize these words to show off your language skills while in the Maldives.  Fun, but not necessary.  Just being able to recognize the words will be very helpful in understanding the nature and make up of your dive spots.  For instance, you might visit Embudhoo Kandu and Embudhoo Thila (channel and reef at Embudhoo) in South Male atoll.  Or Kuda Haa Thila of Kuda Haa (Haa meaning a clearing in the lagoon).  You might visit Utheemu in the far north an inhabited island with a palace (theemu meaning “the island”) or Dhiffushi of South Ari Atoll (fushi meaning larger island).

Now when you see or hear the names of the places you visit on your liveaboard trip they will mean a bit more to you.  There are many more words used by Maldivians that you might recognize as well.  Loan words from other languages, especially English, are creeping into the daily vernacular of the Maldives people.

dhoni ncburton Learn the Dive Lingo of the Maldives

Another Maldivian word you’ll soon know well – dhoni. Photo: ncburton, Flickr

 

English Influences on Dhivehi

One of the benefits of being an English speaker or of learning English is the widespread use of the language throughout the world.  Languages can even start to adopt foreign English words into everyday lingo, while still following usage patterns of the native language.

In Dhivehi, for example, the word car has become “kaar”.  “Kaaru” means “the car”.  There are many more examples like bicycle (baisikalu), cake (keyku) and ticket (tiketu).  So if you can add a “u” sound you can already speak some of the local language of the Maldives.

Native words are still commonly used of course.  A couple useful ones you might like to know are Shukuriyyaa (thank you) and Noon (no).

 

With a bit of local vocabulary under your belt you’re ready to dive the Maldives.  Discover the abundant marine life of the kandu and thila situated all around the atolls.  Check out our Best of Maldives tours and the liveaboard Theia deals now on.

 

We’re already receiving entries for our Magic Memories contest!  Send us your story and photos today to win a week on one of our liveaboards.  See contest regulations and to enter CLICK HERE.

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Magic Memories: Share your Maldives holiday stories and win (another!) island escape

October 15th, 2013 Comments off

It’s nice to re-live your vacation by telling people about your wonderful memories.  It’s even better when that reminiscing can land you a free holiday!  Send your stories, photos and videos to us for our contest – Magic Memories: Share your Maldives holiday stories.  You could win a one-week liveaboard trip or one of 4 other fantastic prizes!

 

magic maldives theia sunset 550 Magic Memories: Share your Maldives holiday stories and win (another!) island escape

 

Tell us about your vacation in the Maldives – the stay, the diving and the overall experience.  Make it come alive with your photos and videos.  You don’t have to be a writer and don’t worry if your English isn’t perfect.  We’re looking for energy, individuality and a unique element that made your vacation special.

Get your entries in as soon as possible!  We’ll be publishing entries that we receive on our blog so we can all share in our Maldives experiences.  Then, in January, we’ll be announcing the winner of the top prize, a diving week on any of our boats for the deserving individual.  And that’s not all!  There are a total of five top prizes so your odds are very good of being well-rewarded for your story and photos.  After the dive week top prize, the 2nd prize is a one-week stay at a Maldives guest house, 3rd is a 50% voucher for a one-week liveaboard stay, 4th is a handy diving computer and 5th is an awesome ABC set.

It’s easy to find inspiration for a story about the Maldives.  Did you come across a rare sight?  Did you capture a photo that has a cool story behind it?  Did you film the Maldives underwater/overwater world and want to add some commentary to captivate viewers?  Maybe it was a special occasion you celebrated or you visited during a special event like the Hanifaru feeding frenzy.  In fact, any dive story can get interesting depending on your perspective and energy.   Let’s hear and see it!

 

The top 5 entries will be rewarded as follows (see terms and conditions):

1st prize: Diving week for one person on any of our boats*

2nd prize: Guest house one-week stay for one person in any of our guest houses

3rd prize: 50% Voucher for a one-week liveaboard for one person

4th prize: diving computer

5th prize: ABC set

 

We’re accepting entries now of a minimum of 500 words with 3 photos and/or video.  If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve prepared some questions for you like, “Tell us your experience of your favourite Maldives dive spots” and “What was the highlight of your trip?”.  You can write your own story or just answer the questions.  Get started now – click on this link to the Magic Memories Contest Form.

 

What to do:

  • Submit the Magic Memories contest form as soon as possible (with your energetic, unique experience) .  Click here: Magic Memories Contest Form
  • Send us a minimum of 3 photos and/or video to accompany your experiences (Each jpg should be a minimum of 72dpi and minimum 200KB in file size, with your name and the caption in the file name.  Sent via Dropbox link to info@maldivesdivetravel.com)
  • Check back to the Maldives Dive Travel blog often to read great Maldives memories
  • In January, watch for the announcement of the 5 prize winners – it could be you!
 Submit Your Entry Now!

 

magic memories manta ray 550 Magic Memories: Share your Maldives holiday stories and win (another!) island escape

 

 Submit Your Entry Now!

 

Terms & Conditions

Contest open to past Maldives visitors, 18 and over, excluding employees of Maldives Dive Travel and the liveaboard partners. One original, previously unpublished entry will be accepted per guest.

All entries must be submitted by filling in the designated Google Doc form.  The form consists of standard questions and a free writing area.  Free writing section must be a total minimum length of 500 words, and a maximum of 1000 words).  Accompanying media: A minimum of 3 accompanying photos and/or video with captions should be submitted in .jpg format.  Each jpg should be a minimum of 72dpi and minimum 200KB in file size, with your name and the caption in the file name. Photos should be sent via a Dropbox link to info@maldivesdivetravel.com.

Submission of the form gives permission for MDT to publish the stories/report, photos and videos on the MDT website and social media pages.  Entries may be edited by MDT for length, grammar and overall readability prior to publishing.  All works remain the property of the entrant who will be credited for the writing, photography and videography they submit.  By entering your story/image, you grant to MDT the non-exclusive right to reproduce it for any purpose at any time in any media with attribution.  The winners consent to the use of their image, name and/or photograph in any publicity carried out by MDT, without further compensation.

Duration of the competition is 10 weeks, from 14th Oct to 28th Dec 2013.  The winners will be selected and informed, then published 12 weeks after the start of the competition (approx 14th Jan 2014).  During the competition, entries will be published on the MDT blog at the discretion of MDT.  We reserve the right, at our discretion, to disqualify or discount any entrant, image or video submitted by unfair means.

The top 5 entries will be rewarded as follows (see terms and conditions):

1st prize: Diving week for one person on any of our boats*

2nd prize: Guest house one-week stay for one person in any of our guest houses

3rd prize: 50% Voucher for a one-week liveaboard for one person

4th prize: diving computer

5th prize: ABC set

 

 Submit Your Entry Now!

 

Winners will be notified by email and announced on the MDT website.  Prizes are non-transferrable and cannot be exchanged for cash.  The top 3 prizes are subject to availability and are valid until October 2014.  The free dive week & voucher both exclude Dhoni Stella.  Winners will be chosen by MDT staff based on their energy, individuality and creativity.

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Hammering Home the Facts about Hammerheads in the Maldives

October 7th, 2013 Comments off

The word shark strikes fear into many.   Sharks’ reputations precede them, yet they don’t do them justice.  In fact, in the Maldives, divers seek out shark dive points where they can swim in the presence of these massive intimidating creatures.  That’s because sharks are not exactly the threatening animal they’ve been portrayed to be and knowledgeable, passionate divers know it’s a safe and exhilarating experience they must add to their dive logbook.  Not to mention, a sight worth capturing on camera for the photo album.

There are several species of shark found all over the Maldives.  The black tip and grey reef sharks are common on the reefs and young ones even swim along the shores of the island beaches.  White tips, leopard or tiger sharks, nurse sharks and hammerheads also hang about the atolls.  One of the most interesting is the hammerhead, as it takes some planning and patience to see this species at its preferred locations.

 

Physical Traits
Unlike the black and white tip reef sharks and the leopard sharks of the Maldives, the light grey-green hues hammerhead is not known for unique colourings, its size or its habits of. brushing up on the shores of island beaches.  It does, however, have discerning physical features that make it stand out from the rest and is one of the trickier shark species to find in the Maldives.

As far as sharks go, hammerheads have relatively small mouths and teeth which are hidden under their alien-like eyes placed on each side of their odd, flattened “hammer” heads.  This feature gives them an advantage when it comes to vision; the ability to see above and below themselves in their open water habitat.  That head, or cephalofoil as it’s also known, comes with sensory receptors to help with finding its dinner.

Not all hammerheads are created alike.  Nine classifications are known with just 4 that could be considered common.  The range of sizes starts at around 3.5ft, that’s the bonnethead, to 5 to 10ft long for scalloped hammerheads and can reach up to 18ft long in the great hammerhead class.  A taller than average fin also sets hammerheads apart from their shark cousins.  The bonnetheads, as found in the Maldives, are further distinguishable by the rounded head or nose rather than the straight and squared head of other types.

While hunting is part of their regular routine, it’s not humans they have in their sights.  They often feed along ocean bottoms, scooping up crustaceans, fish, squid, octopus and stingrays.  The vicious reputation that sharks have is an unfortunate consequence of the media’s focus on sensationalism.  The number of shark species is higher than you’d guess, and the rate of unprovoked attacks would be equally as surprising. That being said – shark encounters should not be taken lightly.

 

Environmental Aspects

In addition to the Maldives Indian Ocean, hammerhead sharks are found in the tropics of the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans.  That’s around the Gulf of Mexico, throughout the Caribbean, Cuba and down to Brazil, as well as from southern California down to Ecuador.  They’re known to frequent coastlines and continental shelves with known schools around the islands in Hawaii, Columbia and Costa Rica.

Preferring cooler waters means that in the Maldives you’ll only get to see hammerheads if you dive deep.  Divers in these warm tropical waters hit 25-30 meters to watch for them and often peer into the depths below to see some swimming at 60 and 75 meters.

Some types of hammerheads are under watch by species protection agencies as overfishing for shark fins is a continuing issue.

 


Hammerhead Diving Maldives

Rasdhoo Atoll in the North Ari Madivaru Corner is mentioned among Cocos Island in Costa Rica, the Galapagos, Indonesia’s Komodo National Park and Borneo as a hammerhead destination.

It’s the early bird that catches the hammerhead worm out here.  Getting into the water for 6am is what you can expect which means it will still be dark.  The experience has been compared to floating through space as some divers report seeing twinkling bioluminescent plankton in the dark waters on the descent.  It’s around 25 to 30 meters that you’ll hover around, making Nitrox an ideal dive accompaniment to ensure you get maximum dive time and boost your chances of witnessing a passing individual or school of hammerheads.  Divers have an opportunity at a close, heart-racing encounter here  to see the up to 4-meter long sharks.

Trawling dive techniques recounted by divers around Rasdhoo include using zigzag swimming patterns, to and fro, off the shore as well as heading towards the atoll to check for sharks swimming parallel to the island.  Making the most of a hammerhead dive is essential and dive instructors can help guide you in the methods for spotting these elusive creatures.

As mentioned, Rasdhoo Atoll at Madivaru Point is a known hotspot for hammerhead diving.  Fotteyo Kandu in Felidhoo/Vaavu atoll, south of Male Atolls, is also a popular spot and is a generally terrific dive site as well.  Additionally, Thaa atoll is home to hammerheads at Diyamingili and Vodamulu Kandu in Gaafu Alifu Atoll has reported sightings of hammerheads and tiger sharks.

Cast off with the MV Orion and its crew to Rasdhoo atoll in November and December to seek out some hammerheads.  Take advantage of special offers on now.

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A Maldives South Diving Trio – Faafu, Meemu and Vaavu

September 30th, 2013 Comments off

The atolls of the Maldives are en elusive element of the country’s make up.  As land formations, atolls are made up of tiny coral islands that are gathered into a circular shape and found in the tropics or sub-tropics of the globe.  In the Maldives the 26 naturally scattered atolls are each many kilometres in diameter and have province-like designations, politically grouping the over 1200 islands that stretch north and south over the equator, near India and Sri Lanka.  Each atoll has its inhabitants, channels, reefs and marine fauna.

There’s a tremendous trio of islands just south of the country’s central region, near Male and Ari Atolls.  Coded as Faafu, Vaavu and Meemu, for easy pronunciation, these three neighbouring Maldives regions are destinations for exceptional diving.

 

Faafu

Also known as North Nilandhe, Faafu is the smallest of the three atolls at about 30 km in diameter.  That’s the size of the entire group of islands, not just one island.  With just over 20 islands only one is occupied by a resort and some 15 are uninhabited.  This makes for a peaceful atmosphere.

The largest island, the capital, is Nilandhoo, which holds the majority of the atoll’s 2000 inhabitants.  The island is also home to the second oldest Maldives mosque, known as Aasaari Miskiy.  This region has remnants of Hindu religious idols giving a glimpse into the history of these islands.  The stone structure and interior wood with script patterns of the mosque are impressive.
 

faafu Filitheyo house reef warrenski A Maldives South Diving Trio    Faafu, Meemu and Vaavu

Filitheyo house reef in Faafu. Photo: warrenski

 

As for diving, the atoll’s make up has been compared to that of Ari Atoll, with many submerged thilas (pinnacle reefs) and kandu (channels) in the northeast corner.  The east side of the atoll forms a semi-circle of islands at the centre of which is Filitheyo Kandu the widest and deepest of the numerous other channels where divers will discover bountiful marine life.  With entrances at depths of 20 to 25m the channels reach steeply down to 30 to 35m and can come to life with sharks, eagle rays, barracudas, manta rays, and even whale sharks.  Filitheyo Kandu neighbours the atoll’s only resort and it is the only protected marine area in Faafu atoll.  Part of the site, known as Dolphin Corner, is a popular dive location.

 

Meemu

The next atoll in the trio, Meemu or Mulaku, is less perfectly circular in shape but the western border, north to south, is created by a barrier reef that is almost as straight as an arrow.

Like Faafu, it’s the eastern crescent shaped region of the atoll that is populated by resorts and where most of the 33 islands are located.  It’s population is three times that of Faafu and while its width is similar to its neighbour to the west, Meemu is almost 20km longer.   Yet there are only 2 resorts and as many as 30 uninhabited islands, showing again the almost undisturbed nature of this scattered, island-filled country.  Like Faafu, history and culture are evident in this heavily populated region of the country – Dhiggaru, Kolhuvaareyaafushi and Mulah all hold clues to the way of life of Maldivians from the fishing industry to growing yams, to a sword on display from the time of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu.

From a diver’s point of view, the self-titled Mulaku Kandu on the northern rim is a top attraction with its soft corals on large thilas.  The geography of the atoll’s west string creates superb channels for diving as well, along its barrier reef.  The inner reefs also offer interesting dive spots with caves, overhangs and steep walls.  Mulee Kandu, one of only two channels on the eastern side of the atoll, is popular for drift diving and holds one of the most popular dive sites, Lhazikuraadi/Hakuraa Thila, a protected marine area.
 

Hakuraa DanTheBeastMan clown anemone fish A Maldives South Diving Trio    Faafu, Meemu and Vaavu

Clown Anemone Fish at Hakuraa, Meemu Atoll. Photo DanTheBeastMan


 

Vaavu

To round off the trio is a top diving destination – Vaavu or Felidhe Atoll.  Its isolated and less-developed qualities make it ideal for diving.  The area consists of less than 20 islands shaped into a boot – not a high heel boot like Italy though more like an old work boot.  Over half of the islands are uninhabited much like the tiny one-island atoll immediately to the south called Vattaru, which is part of the same atoll administrative region.  Vattaru Kandu is a popular dive site.

While tourism has been present in the atoll since the 70’s, and the location is just to the south of the popular South Male Atoll, it’s still less commercialised compared to Male and Ari regions.  Vaavu boasts 26 channels just on the eastern side and, on the southeast, a 55km long reef starting at the toe of the boot, Fotteyo Falhu, is the longest in the Maldives.  Fotteyo Kandu is one of the best dive sites in the archipelago many will say.  Shark dives are a main attraction, including hammerhead sightings.  In fact, the double channel dive site of Dhevana Kandu is a drift dive delight and lives up to its other name Miyaru Kandu (shark channel).


 
To the west general diving may be a bit less exciting; however pick your time right (during the northeast monsoon) and it is a location known for manta ray feeding.  The south also has a shipwreck from the 50’s, The Pioneer.  At Fotteyo Muli is the easternmost part of the Maldives nation.

 

The southern trio of Meemu, Faafu and Vaavu should definitely be on your dive itinerary.  Liveaboard tours of the south usually make sure divers experience these regions beyond the resort tourist trail.  Their location is the perfect balance of isolation with the proximity to flying in and out of Male airport.  Any further south and domestic flights would likely be involved.  Certain itineraries of Nautilus One and Two as well as Theia hit the south atolls beyond Ari.  Alternatively, if you’ve got your heart set on Ari, there is a last minute deal on the “Best of Maldives” tour.

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