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Home » Scuba diving news / articles » Coral Reef in the Maldives
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Home to over 1,190 coral islands and 26 atolls, the Maldives is one of the leading diving destinations around the globe. The tropical country is located to Sri Lanka's south-west and is known for its stunning beaches and abundant reefs alike. While most of the Maldives has been labeled as biosphere reserves by the UN, the entire nation is expected to grab the title in the coming few years.

The Republic of Maldives is home to 26 beautiful coral atolls. An atoll refers to a ringed structure of coral which originally started off on the shore of the island and then grow inwards until the entire land is eroded. The numerous islands in the Maldives, have developed from submerged volcanoes, to then be surrounded by a reef life. The resulting ecosystem is a mix of pinnacles, reefs, and current channels that draw a host of stunning crustaceans, corals, and aquatic life. The atolls comprising of coral reefs is located far from the landmass. This presents an opportunity for divers to view its underwater life from crystal clear waters.

Atoll formation

Diving in Maldives

Diving activity in the Maldives can be carried out in three different settings based on the reefs geographical formation:

  • Channels (kandu): These are usually found at the exit and entryways of atolls and connect the open ocean and lagoons. The water offers a good visibility and you should be able to spot eagle rays, reef fish, grey reef sharks, and other pelagic life. As we mentioned before, diving in these channels can be quite challenging, as it involves depths of 35 to 40 meters and strong currents. Divers in the know how, who have experience with reef hooking and fighting currents should be up for the job while it should not be attempted by novice divers.
  • Thilas and Giris: The words Thilas and Giris are interchangeably used, and refer to underwater rock pinnacles that develop nearly up to the water surface and deep to 30-40m. Thilas are frequented by sessile life like coral polyps and sponges, and also draw in various fish and crustaceans. The predator life automatically follows, and the waters are filled with reef sharks, dog tooth tuna and giant trevally. Some notable thilas around here are the Hafusha Thila and the Maaya Thila.
  • Faru : This refers to the circular reef that has developed from the ocean floors. Overhangs and ledges can be found in the farus, and these diving spots are relatively easy to be found. The pelagic life is vibrant in the channel-swept regions in Farus. It is easy to spot macro life like anemones, frog fish, glass fish, lead fish, nudibranchs, and murre eels.

You will find more information here on how to dive in Maldives

Reef structure in Maldives

Atoll geomorphology

Faros, knolls, patches and more, the atolls in the Maldives have different dispositions throughout. The Faros, for instance, refer to ring-shaped reefs with separate lagoons that are delineated by channels. They consist of massive and branched coral life. Knolls are seen to support resplendent coral life but are under the water while patches are found nearly 40 m above lagoon floors. The coral islands in the Maldives have been formed as reef sediments and have covered the faros lagoons. Each of Maldives islands has a distinct geomorphology, due to the influence of human life, climate, tides, currents, and location. The islands have minimal vegetation due to the alkaline nature of the soil, although you can spot coconut palms and mangroves. The atolls are found at a water depth of 60m.

Coral reef biodiversity

While corals are among the most dominant species found in the Maldives, there are also other diverse organisms associated with reefs that are found in the region. Over 1000 fish species have been recorded in the Maldives of which seven were a first for science. The coral species here stand at about 200 from 60 over genera. Five turtle species, five sea grass species, 285 alga species, and 51 echinoderm species later, experts continue to study the underwater expanses of the Maldives to discover unidentified species.

Reef in Maldives

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