The Maldives will get you hooked

With its beautiful beaches surrounded by an azure sea on one side and a row of palm trees on the other on almost all 1200 islands, in the middle of the Indian Ocean and on the equator, the Maldives is a dream destination for many divers. One chooses a resort on an island where they go with a water plane and the other prefers the liveaboard to visit entire areas while diving. And most of us come for the Manta and the Whale Shark, but did you know that in the Maldives they have 42 registered shark species that show themselves during a dive depending on the current. And in order to fully enjoy the sharks in strong currents you want to stay in one and the same place and so they use reef hooks. A practice that is not applied in every country nor is it allowed everywhere.

Juvenile spotted eagle ray

Many shark species love strong currents because they cannot pump water through their gills to breathe and must swim continuously. This means that they continue to swim 24 hours a day and can only relax by hanging in a current. In addition, where the current hits the reef and is not only strong but changes direction, fish gather in schools and thus provide a good place for the shark to find food. And in a country like the Maldives, when there’s a strong incoming current, many sharks and schools of fish gather at the entrance of the channel, so we like to dive there. Now they use the reef hook to stay in one place.

A grey puffer relaxing

A good hook is made of stainless steel and the hook itself is large enough to hook the hook well around a rock and has no sharp point. In addition, there is a strong rope attached to it as long as both your arms are long together. On one side is the hook and on the other side a sturdy clip also made of stainless steel. Before you can use the hook, attach the clip to your gear somewhere around your bellybutton. And position it in the middle of your body, because then you hang straight when using the hook. For example, you can wrap the leash around your belly band and use the clip to attach to the leash itself. Another option is to use the D-rings that you have on your belly band, as long as these rings are made of stainless steel and not plastic. If you have those rings, thread the rope through them and clip it back onto the rope.

If you have never used a reef hook before, it is useful the first times to attach the hook to your belly band before diving. Please store the hook and rope in a pocket so that the hook cannot escape and dangle freely. It won’t be the first time someone accidentally hooks into another diver.

Reef mantas on a cleaning station

Suppose you have already attached the hook and you are diving and see a place where you want to hook up. Then take the hook out of your pocket early and look well before you are at the hooking point where you want to hook up. You are looking for a piece of rock attached to the reef. Please do not hook in coral, even if it is dead. Because dead coral is often a living or eating place for many animals. Even if you accidentally break only 3 cm from something, realize that coral reefs average 0. 8 cm grow per year, so 3 cm is almost 4 years of growth.

Residential whale sharks are found all year long in the Maldives

Okay you have chosen your spot and now you can place the hook, but immediately feel whether the rock is stuck by pulling the hook. If the rock doesn’t move, you can let go and the current will pull your line tight. It is important that you do not get any air in or out of your BCD as long as you are hanging on the line, so that you do not suddenly take off like a madman when you hook off. But apart from that it is now time to enjoy the shark show and you will find that hooking in is not difficult and is a fantastic technique that helps you relax and thus save air. Of course you keep an eye on your air and the non-deco times, because in the Maldives they often hook up to 30 meters. And as soon as you want to unhook, communicate and time it with your buddy.

Despite the fact that hooking in is a nice technique, not everyone is a fan of it. Some say we damage the reef too much, others think they can do without it. I think as long as you only hook into rock, keep enough space from the living reef, there’s nothing wrong with it. It also appears that currents of up to 4 knots have been measured in the channels of the North Male Atoll. Now a normal diver can swim against about 0.3 knots, so you just can’t beat that 4 knot. But of course you don’t have to use a reef hook, you can always choose to drift and a good drift can certainly be found in the beautiful Maldives.

Love lifeā€¦ Blow bubbles

Anke Westerlaken

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