Helen can use fancy words like ‘symbiotic relationship’ in her diving blog entries, but I maintain that a recent documentary has increased interest and understanding of underwater life to a wider audience. That film is of course “Finding Nemo”.
It’s difficult to look at a teaming reef (and around here, they’re all teaming...) and not appreciate the many levels of community going on in and around there. It’s also difficult not to mouth “whoaaa dude!” when you see a turtle passing by.
Manta rays have to be the highlight of diving here. It’s a predicable member of the ‘favourites’ list, but they are so weird looking and yet so graceful at the same time, I think it’s impossible not to be captivated by them. They’re surprisingly common- I’ve seen them on quite a few of the dives I’ve been on, and several times on the surface when fishing / tearing around in the dinghy. Apparently they grow up to about six meters wing span, although the ‘babies’ we’ve seen have only been about two and a half meters across.
Caves and overhangs are a common feature on reefs throughout the Maldives, often harbouring interesting creatures in their recesses. We found a resting nurse shark at the back of one deep overhang. The top part of their tails are elongated in like an exaggerated whip, and was facing towards us.
Cute little ‘cleaning shrimp’ also hang out in caves and overhangs, in bustling communities that remind me of highly populated inner city suburbs. If you extend your hand into their zone, they gather around and pick off gastronomic treats such as dead skin. They are so small and almost transparent; they appear more like mosquitoes than a smaller sibling of a delicious entree. If they’re frightened, they move away in jumps, looking like they’re ‘teleporting’ themselves a few inches away.
Leaf fish have also become another of my favourites, mainly because of the difficulty in spotting them. I’ve found a lot more “leaves” than “leaf fish” in my searches. There’s a picture of a beautiful purple one on my earlier diving blog, but they also come in black (really hard to find!) and white (with piercing red eyes).
Hammerhead sharks remain on my “to sea list”. I think I’ll have time for one more dive to the area where they’ve been occasionally spotted, so watch this space. But don’t hold your breath.
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