Whilst I enjoy spending a short time relaxing, observing the beauty and wandering the island, the main reason I visit is because of the fantastic snorkelling. I generally spend on average 4/5 hours a day in the sea with an occasional journey out on the sea in a boat or kayak. Would I visit if not for the snorkelling? Probably not, but plenty of people do.
The coral on the reef at Reethi is quite poor, in comparison to the last Maldivian island I visited. This is due to the bleaching that occurred following a rise in sea temperatures a few years ago. Some of the coral is recovering , but it takes years for these animals to re-establish themselves. The plus of this is that limited coral cover = better views of fish . I have literally hundreds of underwater photos, I will try to post a few so as not to bore you all too much.
Reef drop off to shore, the sea was this calm most of the time
Mushroom Leather Coral
Sea cucumber and pin cushion sea star
Napolean Wrasse -one of my favourite fish, such a gentle giant
Bridled Parrot fish
Puffer fishes – Black spotted, Dog faced, Huge starry
I once had an opportunity to snorkel- in Krabi- which I chickened out of because I didn't know how to do it and I wasn't particularly looking forward to do it. I regret it now- it was less than an year ago, actually.
Hawksbill turtle ( ...I think its a Hawksbill although someone told me it is a Green )
Unicorn (L) and Regal Angelfish (R)
Painted Spiny Lobster and Snowflake Moray Eel
A healthy unbleached reef, a boat ride away
And finally the one and only shark I saw during the visit to Reethi – a Nurse Shark, this is the best photo out of a bad lot, I was gutted with the quality but I guess I was just firing them off before he disappeared . In fact this is just as gutting as my half a dolphin pics , similar story.
Thanks Ansh, Htmb and Spindrift. Ansh, next time , go for it
Spindrift, yes certainly it is fine to go alone, especially to this island as it has a very mixed range of guests and is not just an island full of honeymooners. I was alone and had a great time, meeting lots of different people from a variety of nations. I was disappointed by the lack of sharks at Reethi but there has never been a shark attack in the Maldives as far as I am aware. Most of the sharks close to the island reefs are generally Black and White tipped reef sharks, nurse sharks etc which although need to be respected are not considered dangerous.
NOT "all fished out". You can certainly post all of your hundreds of underwater pictures, as far as I'm concerned!
These are so beautiful, Lugg. How long have you been snorkeling and how did you learn so much about identifying fish? I guess I should also ask how long it took you to get an underwater camera after the first time you went snorkeling.
What an amazing experience. You must have been really ready for bed every night!
Super fishy pics, the water must be very clear. I can remember in the Great Bitter Lake being fascinated by the flounders. They would flatten out on the bottom and flick their fins to get a layer of sand over them. Then they lay doggo, with just a pair of eyes showing. You took me back 60 years, thanks for all.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
I really regretted not having an underwater camera when I was there.
One of the things that they say about the Maldives which seems like an exaggeration before you go there but which you realise is totally true the moment you set foot in the water is: "It's like swimming in an aquarium."
In any case, your photos are fabulous, lugg. One thing that I learned when I was in the Maldives (so long ago), but I don't know if it is still true, was that fishing nets are totally forbidden. Locals were only allowed to use fish hooks to catch dinner. In fact, we were almost never served seafood at meals because it was too rare -- just about all of the tourist food came out of tins back then. Of course now with all of the giant planes that land at Male, I'm sure that there is fresh produce at last. Even the 'salad' used to come out of a tin.
I am thinking that there might now be standard industrial fishing out on the high seas where they feel that there is no danger of depleting 'the aquarium.'
I can remember in the Great Bitter Lake being fascinated by the flounders.
A good gig, if you can get it!
The remarks about "the aquarium" made me think of another question. I've read that the coral reefs near Cancun are dying not only from the obvious forms of pollution, but from all the suntan lotion, hair products, etc. from humans swimming over the reefs. Are there similar concerns in the Maldives?
I do not know if I can answer all the questions now but I will certainly look up more info at the weekend and post back then.
Anyway for now...
Spindrift, my camera is an FT2 which I do love as I have a real fondness for Panasonics, however it is time for me to start thinking of an up-grade. The beauty of the FT2 and later models is that no underwater housing is required. It is great for snorkellers but no use to divers as it is only waterproof to about 10/12m . I think the later models are proofed to greater depths
Bixa , I started snorkelling about 30 years plus ago, initially in the Med and became hooked on a visit to Menorca . I still remember the awe as I was swimming over a shallow ledge and feeling dizzy as the sea bed fell away below me to 30m plus seeing huge dark shapes swimming below , probably Tuna but I did not know enough to id them at that time. No camera. About 12 years ago I travelled to Mexico - Cozumel and the Mayan coast and later Belize and then my passion started in earnest. A lot of my pics up until about 5 years ago were taken the old way on underwater disposables . Generally rubbish pics but of great sentimental value to me. ID of the fish has developed since and I now have a collection of ID books and have joined a few fish/snorkelling geek forums where we help each other out.
K2 -I am not sure re fishing industry, what I can say is that unlike other locations on the coast I did not see any huge trawlers or fishing boat lights at night. However certainly there was plenty of fish on the menu. I did feel slightly guilty swimming along and admiring a red snapper and then eating one of its mates in a coconut curry, but I do make a conscious effort to only eat fish that are sustainable both on holiday and at home.
Bixa- Re sun tan lotion etc and effect on the reefs . This has not really hit the consciousness of most visitors to the Maldives. I was aware of the concerns due to my visits to Mexico and other parts of the Caribbean where it is certainly much more on the agenda. I think particularly in Mexico there is concern re the impact of chemicals on the cenotes . Myself... I wear UV rash vest and leggings in warm water and wet suit in cold which protect both the sea life and myself better than sun tan lotions can.
What certainly is more widely known is the adverse impact of enticing fish using foods- bread, bananas etc. I have to admit that I did this when I first started snorkelling 30 years ago and continued for some time until I understood more about the ecological balance of reefs / fish etc.
I admire people who snorkel and scuba dive. There's a whole other world down under the sea. I've done some snorkeling, both in the Bahamas and in the grass flats off the west coast of North Florida when looking for scallops. However, it wasn't very relaxing for me. I always felt like I was trolling for sharks and I was the bait.
These photos are incredibly beautiful! The water is so clear and the variety of marine life is dazzling. It's impressive that you're able to identify so many species. I think my favorite is the photo of the parrot fish because he looks like he is smiling and chatting.
I'd really like to see a nurse shark in the water, at a respectful distance. Although they are practically harmless, there have been many cases of non-fatal attacks, often because some snorkeler tries to grab them or something stupid like that.
Lugg these are amazing photos and I was curious about the camera too, but inquiring minds already asked and I appreciate all of the information! I've snorkeled three times in my life - once in Cozumel (where i first freaked out and then figured it out thankfully) which was amazing even in bad weather and once in Lana'i which was pretty nice and I had the disposable camera which seemed to make everything blue and once in Australia off the coast of Byron Bay which was very disappointing to say the least.
As I mentioned before I am loving this report, the amazing photos and one day will have to make this long time dream come true to go there. What other islands would you recommend? It's a bit overwhelming to even start looking LOL.
Lugg, theGreat Bitter Lake is just over half way down the Suez Canal where our generous old King George VI said to me. "Peter, you look tired, pack your bags and take 130 weeks holiday". So I found myself transported to Egypt dreaming of dusky maidens and belly dancers etc. etc. ;D. What a shock, tin huts, sand, and more sand, not to mention clapped out wooden aeroplanes to swan about in. At least we had the Great Bitter Lake, where I learnt to swim, too easy because the water is very salt, five minutes after lying on the beach after a swim and one was white again. But so salt one could not sink, just roll into a ball and your back broke surface
Now the fish, as well as the flounders there were little green garfish a few inches long, which looked like miniature swordfish. The locals used to fish with two boats. They suspended a long net between them and rowed away from each other and then circled back to enclose whatever was there. A man in each boat had a big flail, two bits of wood hinged with a bit of leather. This was swung round so the free end slapped the water to frighten the fish into the net. At night one could hear this thumping noise and know they were fishing. They would drag the net ashore where the women an children would sort out the catch.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
As a child, I went floundering with my brother and father in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico on certain nights. This was a dark endeavour lit only by a Coleman lantern. We would also scoop up any crabs we came across with our nets -- they would be sleepy and sluggish in the dark.
Flounders are just barely visible to the trained eye under their blanket of sand. Since I was maybe 9-10 years old for most of these outings, my eye was not exactly trained. So I stepped on a hidden flounder more than once, and that is more than scary -- it shoots out from under your foot like a rocket.
Thank you Mossie for your info and recollections.Thank goodness you had some time for recreation. I guess even though salty the sea must have given some relief from the dry heat.
;D K2 , I can imagine the shock .
Skater, I am up for an AP Maldivian get together, are you treating us ? Re recommendations , I can give you some general ideas depending on what you are looking for based on my own research, but I have only visited two islands myself. Personally if I was only going to go once I would make sure that I went during the NE Monsoon ( dry season) . At this time I would choose an island towards the south of the country in the South Ari atoll or similar. This is because there is a great chance of seeing Manta Rays and a reasonably good chance of seeing whale sharks and you are likely to have good weather, calm seas. Of course an accessible house reef would be a must for me.
The island has about 100 rooms I think Htmb, so I guess about 200 at max capacity plus staff. It was full when I was there but apart from mealtimes people just seemed to disappear so never felt crowded.
I certainly would never swim where there was a chance I could become shark bait - at least knowingly. I was very nervous swimming on Cape Cod on the Atlantic side due to the great whites in the area, much more comfortable on the bay side or even better in the kettle ponds. ;D My main worry is much more about titan trigger fish, I have been charged by an agressive male several times and they are so scary. I will have a look to see if I can find a half decent pic but most of my photos of Titans are taken from a healthy distance so not so good.
Moving back onto dry land . First some photos of the wildlife. In comparison to the sea life, land life is quite limited in the Maldives. Large Grey Herons are found on nearly all islands and Reethi was no exception,
Bird life otherwise is quite limited lots of crows, the shy Maldivian water hen ( this pic from my visit to another island as they were so shy at Reethi I did not manage to photograph one even though I saw them many times.
Let's have a look at what is inside this shell
Fruit bats aka Flying Foxes
"The subspecies P. hypomelanus maris of the Maldives is considered endangered due to limited distribution and excessive culling. The commerce in fruit bats continues either illegally or because of inadequate restrictions. Local farmers may also attack the bats because they feed in their plantations, and in some cultures, their meat is believed to cure asthma. Nonhuman predators include birds of prey, snakes, and other mammals."
They fly quite quickly and I spent much time trying to get a good shot of them in the air with limited results.
Lizards and Gecko's can also be seen regularly. I think the lizards are Agamid Lizards ? and the gecko is the Common House Gecko.
This colourful bird was a pet of one of the guys at the watersports centre. I am not sure what type of bird it is
Nearly done now just a few more things to show you.
I've known giant mean gossipy women who look like that scary trigger fish.
More incredible photos. The land creatures are fascinating, not least because of their scarcity. This sentence: Nonhuman predators include birds of prey, snakes, and other mammals. makes me wonder which animals are indigenous to the islands and which have been introduced. In that environment, one unfortunate introduction could probably wipe out a whole population of some unwary prey.
The colors of sea and sky and the very white sand make everything look so clean and unspoiled. The air must be a delight to breathe there.
I love all the pictures, but the teeny crab ones really send me.
Your bats and geckos are great. My room on Bandos -- in the pre air conditioned era -- had openings everywhere to let in the geckos. They would stay on alert at the top of all of the walls to get the mosquitoes attracted by the neon tube in the ceiling. The more geckos the better, and I would say that I had at least 10 geckos in my room at all times.