The fascinating underwater world of the Maldives

 
Prestige issue 168, July 2007
 

Scattered in the vastness of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives, numbering 1200 islands, extend casually southwest of SriLanka, still hanging in the sun waiting for you. Our first encounter with this magical archipelago remains the unique feeling that invaded us. Breathtaking beauty and miles of white sand licked by waves coming aground without resistance. Prestige invites you to discover the secrets of this underwater world of breathtaking beauty which offers divers the happiness to discover in the seabed of the Maldives virtually unique wildlife.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Napoleonfish

Napoleon fish catches by the immensity of its body that can weigh up to 200 kg for a size of 2m. The shape of its head oddly reminds us of the hat of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. This fish with a look so tender, despite its mass, crosses through the depths as a supreme master, prompting the astonishment of divers…and the pleasure of discovery.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The pufferfish Or bloated fish

When we see it in normal conditions, it looks like a gracious and sweet fish. Not as much as that! When threatened, it swallows a bit of water and can then take in a few moments, a spherical form by swelling considerably. A way to feel safe. Attention, it is not edible. A highly venomous poison, present in its blood, can be fatal. Many deaths were caused by these mysterious fish.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Sea Turtle

Angelfish

Its beautiful colors and its highly developed fins resembling wings, have earned it this pretty name. This fish changes sex when young, it becomes female, and when it becomes adult, it changes into a male who takes on the role of valiant defender of its territory which hosts two to five females.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Moray

Big fish of the rocky bottoms, moray eel, with its smooth skin and its snake shape, slips with perfect ease in the narrow crevices of coral where it ashore during the day to pounce on its prey during the night. Contrary to its reputation of eater of rebellious slaves in Roman times, the moray is far from being aggressive, if it is not provoked or injured. It is rather shy and tries to avoid crossing divers. However its huge teeth and exceptional strength provoke shivering for the one who dares to approach it or attack it. This fish that can reach 2.50m long, incur during its growth, sex change, from male to female.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Blackfooanemonefish

As its name suggests, this fish likes to live in an environment surrounded by aquatic anemones. Recognized by a white line on the head, it is in the Indian Ocean, only, that we can meet this exclusive host of the Maldives.

The plant with which it lives in symbiosis, does not hurt the fish as an integral part of its life. The anemone fish feeds on algae around coral reefs, or plankton.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The frogfish

It is remarkably similar to the scorpion fish, except that it is hardly dangerous to humans. A master of camouflage, this fish becomes completely invisible to any seabed to the point where it is impossible to spot it. Surprising how it can use its pectoral fins to “walk”, or transform the first dorsal fin in a fishing rod to catch its prey! This thing that awakens curiosity of innocent fish, succeeds most of the time, and the poor animals are soon between its huge jaws can swallow prey as large as this frogfish. When it is still, it is difficult to see this fish on the reefs.To facilitate the research, we have marked with an arrow that rare fish whose colors blend with those of the environment.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

White tip reef shark

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Eagle rays pass under the eyes of the divers in groups like migratory birds.

Report and photos : Simon Nadim