Who could resist diving from Pipistrelle into the tempting crystal clear waters of these islands?
So we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, and publishing this post out of sequence. This is because it is delightful to be back in the aquarium after such a seemingly long but fascinating stint of admiring the different cultures of South East Asia albeit without such beautiful underwater opportunities.
A particularly magical anchorage called Rasfushi is within a coral reef at 06.42.82N and 72.55.37E. We have spent the last two nights here exploring the reef either direct from Pipistrelle or taking the dinghy and tying up to one of the strategically placed mooring buoys. Apart from a fishing boat, we were the only other vessel here. The snorkelling is fantastic, in fact the best we have had since Labuanbajo, Indonesia (click on link to see ‘Diving and Dragons‘ in 2013)! A great way to cool off in the heat of the day – and it is HOT!
Here some below-the-water-line shots.
Our good friend and expert Oliver Straub has again kindly provided correct names and annotations to the gallery above. Here in italics are more detailed notes about each photo:
- yellowstripe goatfish are closely related to the European red mullet and look for food in sandy patches between coral, using their barbels to find small crustaceans and other invertebrates
- powder blue surgeonfish, or tang, with a very descriptive scientific name – Acanthurus leucosternon. Acanthurus means thorn or blade (acanthe) on the tail (ouros) which is highlighted in yellow. All surgeon fish have one to three fixed or flickknife bones on both sides of the tail peducle which are used to defend themselves. These blades are so sharp they gave rise to the vernacular name of ‘surgeonfish’ – chirurgien in French and Doktorfisch in German. Solitary to gregarious reef fish.
- the Bigeye is very common in The Maldives, changing colour from red to silver grey.
- peacock groupers with their spots reflecting blue all over. The species name of ‘argus’ derives from the one-hundred eyed giant in Greek mythology whose eyes became the metallic blue spots on a peacock’s tail after his demise at the hand of Hermes. Bright red with the same spots is the coral grouper (Cephalopholis miniata), also quite common in The Maldives.
- hawksbill turtle is highly endangered due to its prized tortoiseshell and nesting places becoming rarer.
Following shortly will be a summary of how we reached the Maldives – our passage from Trincomalee in Sri Lanka to Uligan, the northernmost island in the chain where we cleared in to the country.