BIRTH OF AN ATOLL

The maldives has approx. 1.200 islands that are part of one of many atolls. We dive the inner and outer reefs, in channels and on thilas.

The start of a fringed reef

Long, long time ago, the Maldives was not a series of atolls, but a volcanic mountain range.  This range of mountains, after it lost its volcanic activity, started to develop all sorts of life. Not just on land, but also under water, where corals started to grow in the inactive mountain, creating a fringed reef.

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On to barrier reefs & atolls

As the mountain is inactive it slowly starts to subside. As it does so, the reef around the mountain actually stays in place. Creating a lagoon between the top of the mountain and the reef, that we can now call a barrier reef.

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As the mountain submerges the lagoon and reef are the only visible remains of the volcanic mountain that was there many millions of years ago. And that is what we now encounter in the great Maldives, a series of Atolls.

The atoll

The water on the inside goes to approx 35-45 meters of depth. On the outside however there are very deep waters. Inner and outer are connected through channels, that due to oceanic and tidal water movements can have currents running up to 4 knots. That does not sound like a lot, but a ‘normal’ person can swim up to maybe 0.3/0.4 knots. In reference to that number we have to admit that 4 knots current is massive 😉

Besides that research has shown that the reef is found up until a depth of 2.100 meters. The reef is said to grow at a speed of 0.8 cm a year, making these reefs quite old 😉

Diving the atolls

Here in the Maldives we love diving in places with massive currents. We go drifting or hook in as we have a very specific place of interest. Places that attracts our interest are:

  • at the bottom of channels @ 30 meters as currents are incoming, collecting big shoals of sharks
  • around cleaning stations for manta’s on the outer reef. These stations are often a specific place where these gentle and elegant giants come in to have themselves cleaned.
  • Also cleaning stations for grey reefs can we found, like the one in Rasdhoo (North Ari Atoll)

Getting comfortable in a current is quite important if you come to dive in the Maldives. So if you plan to come out here, I can advise you  to:

  • Be at least Advanced Open Water Diver with 100-150 dives. Of course you are welcome as you don’t have these number yet, however that means you will have a challenge ahead of you to dive the Maldivian waters from a live-aboard.
  • Be familiar with diving in currents, preferably even comfortable doing so.

If you have never used a reef hook before, we will of course explain you how to use it. Just make sure you do a practice run in calm waters. And once you start using these hooks, you will find that they are quite handy tools and easy to use.

 

 

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