We visited the Maldives in December 2017 for an underwater photography trip.

The Republic of Maldives is located on top of the 600 mile (960 km) long Chagos-Maldives-Laccadives Ridge in the Indian Ocean. It is a double chain of 26 atolls stretching north-south southwest of the southern tip of India. The 1192 coral islands are spread over 35,000 square miles (90,000 square kilometers) between latitude 10 S and 8 N and longitude 72 E and 74 E.


The capital is Male'. The city's name is spelled with a quote mark, not an accent, because it is actually an abbreviation.


Diving takes place on sea mounts, called thilas (top at 5m or deeper) and giris (top just below the surface), and in lagoon channels, called kandus. Coral bleaching events in 1998 and 2016 killed a large percentage of the hard coral, particularly on shallow giris, but the fish life is spectacular.

bleached coral bleached coral bleached coral

We stayed on a liveboard dive boat.


Diving is done from a smaller boat, locally called a dhoni, that follows the divers, due to the heavy currents.


Divers use a reef hook to hold position against the current.

reef hook photographer and shark

A surface marker buoy is essential as well, though a nuisance to deploy if you are carrying a large camera rig.

marker buoy

Our itinerary covered the central part of the islands: Ari (Alifu) Atoll in the west central region and one of the largest atolls, North and South Male' (Kaafu) Atoll in the east central region, and Felidhoo (Vaafu) Atoll in the east central region south of Male'.


There are 187 species of coral:

There are 1100 species of fish:

There are five species of sea turtle:

There are 21 species of whales and dolphins, none of which we saw.

There are 400 species of molluscs:

There are 83 species of echinoderms:

There are 145 species of crabs:

There are 478 species of shrimps:

Flatworms and worms:





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Last modified 4 November 2019