QI: Shark Sex

Sex…AND Sharks! Now that I have you attention!…

Q: How many penises does a male shark have?
A: One?
Q: BUZZZ. Nope. Two penises. “He uses only one at a time, depending on which side of the female shark he finds himself.”
One is used for depositing and the other is used for “holding on”. Ducks famously have multiple vaginas (so they can choose which of the many male ducks who take her forcibly to actually sire her children). Sharks have multiple penises.

That’s not all they use to literally embrace their beloved. Male sharks also use their teeth used to hold onto female shark (so much so that “female sharks tend to have thicker skins than males and bigger bodies in order to withstand the results of a male shark trying to hang onto her with his teeth” (up to 3x thicker). Now THAT’s a love bite!

Q: Since sharks are fish and not mammals, how many ways can sharks give birth?
A: One (laying eggs)?
Q: BUZZZ. A number of shark are indeed oviparous (lays eggs), but a number of species are viviparous (give birth live).
A: So two??
Q: BUZZZ. Some shark species are actually ovoviparous meaning that the eggs hatch in the oviduct within the mother’s body and that the egg’s yolk and fluids secreted by glands in the walls of the oviduct nourishes the embryos.

Best of the Maldives: Safety Turtle – Amilla

Amilla - safety turtle

Even if you stay sequestered in your own villa pool, you still to have to be careful with safety around water. Especially with young ones in tow. And this is doubly the case if you have a water villa with a pool. A while back, most Maldives resorts did not allow children in water villas for fear of their falling into the ocean, but recently they have decided to let parent’s make their own decisions about safety. If your child is less mobile or you are diligent in looking after them, then there shouldn’t be any problems. But all parents know their attention can be distracted even for a moment.

For an extra measure of hi-tech protection, Amilla has procured a number of “Safety Turtle” devices which trigger an alarm at a base station (up to 200 feet away) if it gets wet. Put it on your child’s wrist to be alerted imediately if they fall into the pool or ocean. The devices are available for loan on request.

Amilla - safety turtle 2

Best of the Maldives: Snorkel Safety Ring – SAii Lagoon / Hard Rock

SAii Lagoon - safety ring

One of the appeals of snorkeling and swimming in the Maldives is the mill pond calm waters of the sea stilled by the atoll reef topology. But any body of water, including your bathtub, can be a drowning risk. Not surprisingly, for a country 99% water, the biggest cause of fatality for guests to the country is drowning. Perhaps seduced by the placid feel, people can literally get in over their head. To help reduce the risk of snorkellers getting into trouble (or just to provide a place where they can stop and rest and maybe chat easily with their snorkel buddy), Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon have placed hi-vis floatation rings at the lagoon snorkeling spot (where they have placed a few underwater items to attract fish and provide visual interest in an area which is, and always has been, most sandy shoals.

How to Interpret a Resort Review

Review maldives

Ratings are often the first thing people turn to in deciding on their resort of choice, but these handy shorthands are also fraught with biases and confusion. I thought I would pull back the curtains a bit on these metrics and badges to makes then easier to use and interpret when research your perfect resort.

  • Industry star ratings indicate how many boxes a property has ticked against a list of criteria
  • Social media star ratings (mostly) indicate how a property has performed against expectations.
  • Industry awards are (mostly) just pay-for-cachet shills.


Traditional “star” ratings (eg. “5-star hotel”) were developed by industry bodies and were determined by a methodical list of criteria. The advantage to this approach is that is objective. The problem was that the checklist reflects quantitative metrics, but not qualitative aspects. It counts things like the number of electrical sockets and whether the bathroom has a bidet, but doesn’t assess the quality of design, materials, aesthetics, etc. Resorts quickly learned to game this system by installing the cheapest versions of anything that would tick the assessor’s boxes to get a coveted “5-star” designation for a fairly chintzy property.


The Internet and social media introduced the notion of crowd-sourced reviews. The stars that visitors gave were anything but methodical or defined. The reviews were completely haphazard with “1-star: Terrible” reviews going to exceptional properties who made one slip-up during their visit, and “5-star: Excellent” reviews going to mediocre properties visited by people who were just delighted to be on holiday or wanted to boast to the world how amazing it all was.

The notion is that a savvy reader will dismiss the outliers and focus on the shape of the score histogram (eg. shifted more heavily to positive or negative side). Social media does add the richness of two features: (a) the text review itself (so you can drill down into the specifics of the assessment as make your own judgement about whether the attributes focused on concern you or the assessment seems justified), and (b) the authority of the writer (based on reputational scoring like “Helpful” votes).

Seth Godin articulates this dynamic well in this piece “I Hate This Restaurant” (and this is just the inadvertent failure ignoring the deliberate toxic practice of social media extortion where people find tiny failings and demand a big discounts or compensation under threat of them unleashing their condemnations all over social media):

  • ·If you look at many 1-star reviews (of books, of music, of restaurants) this is precisely what you’re going to see. A mismatch of expectations. A mismatch that is blamed, completely, on the person who created the work, not the critic. It doesn’t matter that the thing was clearly marked. It doesn’t matter that the thing was extraordinarily well-produced. And it doesn’t matter if just about everyone else experiencing it was thoroughly delighted. Because for this spoiled, under-informed and impatient patron, it failed.”

As a result of this “expectations driven” reviewing, many resorts have shifted the direction of their approach to ratings. Instead of trying to goose their rating as high as possible with covering the official bases as expediently as possible, now many properties voluntarily downgrade the advertised “rating”. So they might officially be a “5 star” property, but they advertise as a “4+ star”. That way, guest come expecting one standard of quality, but find a higher than expected one. Exceeding such expectations is the key to strong social media ratings. Better to be a 4-star on the profile but a 5-star on TripAdvisor, than visa-versa.


Whatever you do, dismiss the press releases and website merit badges from industry awards (eg. “Best Hotel in the Indian Ocean by the So-So-So Travel Group”). Said industry body charges X-thousand dollars for a resort to buy a table at their award ceremony and pretty much makes sure that everyone who attends, walks away with an award. In fact, in some cases, the more awards a resort flaunts, the more likely they are trying to cover up major inadequacies by buying endorsements (Yes, I know, I have featured some awards on the website and my email signature, BUT I did not pay anything for these and would never).

So with all of these review shortcomings, how is one to assess the quality of a resort in researching a holiday? I do check out the social media ratings (mostly TripAdvisor). I look at the shape of the star distribution (eg. how many 1-stars, how many 2, etc…). I will take a peek at a couple of 1-star reviews our of curiosity to see if they had identified anything truly serious, but in nearly all cases it is just the rambling trolling of a disaffected whinger. I do select for the most highly rated reviewers (eg. most Helpful votes) as these folks are likely to have sensible perspective so that their review will share useful insights.

Best of the Maldives: Upcycled Table – Amilla

Amilla - upcycled table

Furniture can be just as artistic as paintings and sculpture. It is sort of a living, functional sculpture which makes experiencing it all the richer. My favourite art is those pieces with a story as enchanting as its aesthetics. Like Amilla’s upcycled dining table in their Mystique Garden. The resort hosts chef’s garden meals there. The table itself has been made out of reclaimed wood from the island’s previous jetty. So you are dining in the middle of the island, eating produce from all around you, sitting on part of the island’s history.

Best of the Maldives: Reception Large Chair – SAii Lagoon

SAii Lagoon - large chair

While you’ve got a whole holiday of stretching out and lounging, too often reception area have pretty basic seating, I guess, to prepare you for the shock of sitting in a confined seat for hours on the plane. But SAii Lagoon has the biggest reception chairs we’ve ever gotten swallowed up in (photo above). It reminded me of the feature item in Copenhagen’s renowned Design Museum which itself jumbo sized (photo below with Lori as well). Great for bringing out the kid in you (or at least looking like it on Instagram…and it makes those holiday extra pounds look less prominent).


Best of the Maldives: Largest Private Island – Ithaafushi

Ithaafushi - private island

The Maldives pioneered the concept of “one island, one resort”, and now it is also leading the notion of “one island, one guest” (well, one guest group/party). The notion of a “private island” (one guest rents out the entire resort island) is getting bigger, and the biggest to date is Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi’s entrée. At 32,000 sqm, it is bigger than 20 other full resort islands.

The island booking includes a dedicate chef and concierge as well as…

  • “Mix a slow-paced island getaway with action-packed adventures. The island features a private entertainment clubhouse, spa, gym, watersports, and playground. This is an unrivalled Maldivian experience.”

Best of the Maldives: Herons – LUX North Ari Atoll

LUX North Male Atoll - heron

Every resort island seems to have a few resident herons who have staked out their territory in the shallows patiently waiting for the wayward bait fish to nab and otherwise strolling with an uncommon deliberation. But, if you wonder where they come from, LUX North Male Atoll actually has a heron nesting site. The construction of the property preserved the site where at least 10 resident herons come to birth their chicks on a secluded part of the island that is cordoned off from guests (a little privacy in the marine maternity ward).