Aquatic Silver and Gold

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Silver and gold
Silver and gold
Means so much more when I see
Silver and gold decorations
On every Christmas tree
” – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special

Silver and Gold” is one of the musical gems of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special. The Maldives features its own rich vein of these precious colours in the teeming schools of Yellow Striped Snappers. One of the biggest schools you find and one of the most popular aquatic tapestries to post. Here is a yuletidal collection of some of my favorites…

Yellow Striped Snapper 5

Yellow Striped Snapper 6

Yellow Striped Snapper 8

Yellow Striped Snapper 10

Yellow Striped Snapper 3

Yellow Striped Snapper 7

Yellow Striped Snapper 2

Yellow Striped Snapper 4

Yellow Striped Snapper 11

Yellow Striped Snapper 9

Best of the Maldives: Leaf Fish – Ayada

When you first start diving, the big bold animals are the most alluring – sleek sharks, hovering turtles, soaring mantas. Over time, you start to get more enchanted by the more elusive creatures – tiny nudibranchs, camouflaged stone fish, hidden octopi. The dive becomes more of a treasure hunt than a safari.

One of the classic, masters of disguise is the leaf fish. If your bucket list includes one of these elusive creatures, then one treasure map is provide by Alexander Von Mende who points us to Mafzoo Giri in the Gaafu Alifu atoll:  “You will find a large coral block at around 15m that hosts no less than six residing leaf fish behind a dizzying wall of glass fish.” And if you want the most convenient access, the closest resort is Ayada.

Clowning Around

Maldives Clown Fish 1

One of the most popular outfits yesterday, especially for the very little ones, was a clown costume. Now the British seem to think that all Halloween costumes need to be scary, but in American tradition (the culture which turned the holiday into a blockbuster event), really any sort of fancy dress is appropriate. Mind you, some people consider clowns to be pretty scary. Not the clown fish in the Maldives waters. In fact, they dress themselves up all year round in anemone attire in their symbiotic defence mechanism.

These anemone occupants may also appear to be masquerading as a famous Disney character as well, but regular readers of Maldives Complete will spot the differences.

Of all the seascape photoshoots, this underwater duo is probably the most popular. Both the host background and the sequestered Nemo cousins radiate with vibrant colour. Here is a collection of some of the back I have come across. An amphitheatre of Amphiprion fishionistas…

Maldives Clown Fish 12

Maldives Clown Fish 11

Maldives Clown Fish 10

Maldives Clown Fish 9

Maldives Clown Fish 8

Maldives Clown Fish 7

Maldives Clown Fish 2

Maldives Clown Fish 6

Maldives Clown Fish 5

Maldives Clown Fish 4

Maldives Clown Fish 3

Cute Li’l Fish Day

Octopus brain

The octopus’ Cephalopod cousin, the cuttlefish, is no less intriguing. Itself a clever chappie, they have one of the highest proportions of brain size to body size of all invertebrates. But all the more crazy is that the brain itself is shaped like a donut (a bit of a messed up donut) and the esophagus passes straight through the hole.  They must really get serious brain freeze when they eat ice cream too fast!

Fish Souper

Fish school - Convict Tangs

Second helping of fish soup. Our very first impression of the Maldives was waiting on the airport arrival jetty for our transfer boat and marvelling at the legions of colourful tropical fish scurrying about in the crystal clear water below. While snorkelling, we regularly find ourselves amidst giant clouds of chordata scudding along the top of the coral reefs. Here are more of my favourite close ups of these tapestry-like images forming their own world-class underwater pelotons

  1. Convict Tangs [ABOVE]
  2. Glass Fish
    Fish school - glass fish
  3. Fusilier
    Fish school - Fusilier
  4. Blue Surgeonfish
    Fish school - Blue Surgeonfish
  5. Sprat
    Fish school - Sprat
  6. Moorish Idol
    Fish school - Moorish Idol
  7. Humpback Snapper
    Fish school - Humpback Snapper
  8. Bigeye
    Fish school - Bigeye

Coral King Tapestries

Caterina Fattori - anenome

A of rich and royal hue,
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
   – Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’

Dive into the Laccadive Sea and you will be confronted with a living spectacle of vibrant colours and images. It’s tempting just to chase one exciting sight after another. But some of the most biggest displays are to be found in the smallest things. After you see your first Nudibranch, you will be slowing your swimming right down hoping to spot more of these alien slugs. Yesterday’s up close and personal interview with Outrigger Konotta marine biologist Caterina Fattori first stemmed from my admiration of her photographic up close and personal exposés of the coral critters literally make up all of the Maldives islands. To celebrate World Ocean’s Day today, I am featuring my top ten intimate polyp portraits from her stunning Instagram feed

  1. Mushroom Coral
    Caterina Fattori - mushroom coral
  2. Diploastrea
    Caterina Fattori - Diploastrea
  3. Octocorallia
    Caterina Fattori - octocorallia
  4. Maze Coral
    Caterina Fattori - maze coral
  5. Sarcophyton
    Caterina Fattori - Sarcophyton

  6. Daisy Coral
    Caterina Fattori - daisy coral

  7. Crinoid
    Caterina Fattori - crinoid

  8. Platygyra
    Caterina Fattori - Platygyra

  9. Bubble Coral
    Caterina Fattori - bubble coral

  10. Pachyseris
    Caterina Fattori - Pachyseris

Fishonista Feature

World Wildlife Fund bed decorating

World Wildlife Day today. The first celebration is Kuramathi’s inspired bed decoration featuring a the World Wildlife Fund’s logo in sculpted palm frond (taking this emerging decorating technique to new highs).

But in the Maldives, the wildest life is underwater. For the occasion, I’ve assembled a collection of my top 20 fashion fishionistas. Same rules of selection apply – public profile, photo quality, etc. But I’ve added one special stipulation. DO NOT TOUCH THE FISH (or any other aquatic creatures). I have come across many lovely shots of fashionistas swimming with sea critters, but they are reaching out and touching the turtle, ray or whatever. I do not want to celebrate this behaviour. For some good posts about how not to treat sea life, check out the “Environmental Misconducts Maldives” page on Facebook. Think of the ocean as an exquisite boutique of priceless wonders…you can look but don’t touch. And so for some fine looking creature features…

  1. Christina Sáenz de Santamaría (Spain) – Dusit Thani
    Christina Sáenz de Santamaría (Spain) - Dusit Thani
  2. Germana (United Kingdom) – Kihaad
    Germana (United Kingdom) - Kihaad
  3. Vik Voynikova (Russia) – Maafushi
    Vik Voynikova (Russia) – Anantara Dhigu
  4. Mary Shum (Russia) – Ranveli
    Mary Shum (Russia) - Ranveli
  5. Benedetta Tantalo (Italy) – Constance Moofushi
    Benedetta Tantalo (Italy) - Constance Moofushi
  6. Natalia Kis (Russia) – Gili Lankanfushi
    Natalia Kis (Russia) - Gili Lankanfushi
  7. Mrs. Thalia (Spain) – Dhiffushi
    Mrs Thalia (Spain) - Dhiffushi
  8. Anji Johnson (Australia) – Vilamendhoo
    Anji Johnson  (Australia) - Vilamendhoo
  9. Katinka Hutchinson (USA)
    Katinka Hutchinson (USA)
  10. Eryn Krouse (USA) – Club Med Mani
    Eryn Krouse (USA) - Club Med Mani - 2
  11. Koi Chayathip (Thailand) – Vakarufalhi
    Koi Chayathip (Thailand) – Vakarufalhi
  12. Mia Cassanova (Spain) – Maafushivaru
    Mia Cassanova (Spain) – Maafushivaru
  13. Kitagawa Emiko (Japan) – Outrigger Konotta
    Kitagawa Emiko (Japan) - Outrigger Konotta
  14. Eve Riviere (France) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
    Eve Riviere (France) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
  15. Silvia Wu (Taiwan) – Olhuveli
    Sylvia Wu (Taiwan) – Maafushi
  16. Rosie Londoner (United Kingdom) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Rosie Londoner (United Kingdom) – One & Only Reethi Rah
  17. Frederica (Italy) – Alimatha
    Frederica (Italy) - Alimatha
  18. Jackie Tan Sy (Philippines) – Anga Faru
    Jackie Tan Sy (Philippines) - Anga Faru
  19. Anna Maury (Denmark) – Dhiffushi
    Anna Maury (Denmark) - Dhiffushi
  20. Jacqueline Fernandez (Sri Lanka) – Conrad Rangali
    Jacqueline Fernandez (Sri Lanka) – Conrad Rangali

Best of the Maldives: Equatorial Cruise – Outrigger Konotta

Outrigger Konotta - equatorial cruise

For a deeper ocean experience, you can visit one of the most famous lines in the world – the Equator. Visitors to Gan get a certificate for flying over it, but visitors to Outrigger Konotta can take an excursion to swim right in it (and get a certificate)…

  • “Equator Cruise is a specialty cruise unique to Outrigger Konotta Maldives and lies its roots deep within the folklore history of Maldivian culture and traditions. It is a long cruise that begins with a wonderful on-cruise breakfast while the guests are on the way to the equator line. The hosts will be giving a brief history and briefing about the equator and historical stories related to Maldives. Upon arrival to the location, guests are required to change costumes to Local sarong, with Traditional fisherman Hat or Handmade Coconut palm leaves hat and Necklaces of tree root with corals or shells. The captain or main host will then make the announcement and will have a stick referred to as “King Neptune Pole stick.” The yacht will then put a balloon on the equator line. All guest will be instructed to go to the back of the yacht and say King of sea, Neptune..please let me cross your world and then jump. The guests will then need to swim 5 meters to cross the line. Lunch will be served on the way back to the resort where our GM and senior management will be waiting at the jetty to receive the guests and present them with certificates of participation. A group photo will be taken and framed to give to the participating guests upon departure.”

That really crosses the line!

Outrigger Konotta - equatorial cruise 2

Outrigger Konotta - equatorial cruise 3

Best of the Maldives: Eels – Maafushivaru

Zebra eel - Kurumba

Probably second to the sharks for looking fearsome and scary are the ubiquitous Maldive morays. The snake-like giant morays are everywhere, but like the sharks are pretty apprehensive creatures and prefer to stay tucked safely in some rock crevice with just their ominous mouth protruding. Often the teeth filled mouth is moving looking like it is practicing biting you (but it’s really just breathing). Occasionally, you will come across the more colourful Honeycomb variety. One snorkel, Lori even came across this baby (about 8 inches long) Zebra moray (see photo above) on the Kurumba house reef.

But we learned about the more extensive diversity of the Moray (or Muraenidae) family of eels during our visit to Maafushivaru. The Marine Biologist Nev held regular night snorkelings so you can see them when they are most active. You go out as sunset when there is still light and then watch the reef get darker as you bring out your torch to spotlight the nocturnal goings on. They have spotted the following morays on the house reef…

  • Giant moray
  • Yellow Margin moray (mostly at night)
  • Zebra moray (mostly at night)
  • Undulate moray
  • Honeycomb moray
  • Clouded moray
  • Peppered moray
  • White mouth moray

The house reef also features other eels as well including snake eels and cloudy eels.

We also learned that “Honeycomb Moray”, “Leopard Moray” and “Tessellate Moray” and “Laced Moray” are all monikers for the same species, Gymnothorax favagineus.

When you’re at the Maldives with lots of eels in the sea, that’s a moray.  When you’re at Maafushivaru and the eels are in view, that’s a moray…” ♫♪

Best of the Maldives: Longest Reef – Alimatha

Alimatha - Fottheyo longest reef

While the Maldives might have limited links land above sealevel, it’s undersea world is an expansive wonderland. And the most expansive of them all is the Fottheyo reef in the Vaavu atoll

We all know that Australia has the Greatest Barrier Reef in the World, but how many of you know, which one is the Greatest One in Maldives in terms of square kilometres?! The biggest one is Fottheyo Reef in Vaavu, with its 68 SQ KM.”

Great QI challenge by Paola.