On dry ground in the Maldives – a photo diary



In July, I travelled to the Maldives with a rock band that I worked with. We stayed at Club Faru, about 20 minutes by speedboat from the main island of Male. After finishing work on our second day, I discovered that I had five days more to do nothing — or take in the best of the island.

The edge of the reef

The Maldives are an archipelago of 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. Only 200 islands are inhabited and a majority of these are controlled by global tourism conglomerates and designated as resort islands. Though the Maldives are an Islamic nation and alcohol is neither served nor consumed on the main islands, the resort islands have a free rein.


As far as natural history goes, the Maldives hold a magnetic fascination for divers. Being challenged in that department, I could only listen to those who went underwater and experienced the sights firsthand. 

Crabs anticipate the turn of the tide



On our resort island, the weather was balmy, with a steady, persistent breeze mellowing the sun’s glare. Temperatures hung around 28 to 30- degrees Celsius, though storms could cool the air dramatically. Coral reefs calmed down the breakers into a gentle shoreward current, and the clear aquamarine waters revealed their treasures. On the shores, crabs clung to the eroded shelf of the coral atoll. In the shade of the coconut palms, hermit crabs scuffled for new mollusc shells in which to conceal their soft abdomens.

Hermit crab, up close (and delicious?!)


Hermit Crab

There is very little in terms of mammal life on the islands. On Club Faru, lazy fruit bats flitted drunkenly between their tree roosts in broad daylight. One night, a rat was found running about on the beach. Dogs are banned by Islamic law though there are plenty of cats on the islands. 

Striated Heron


Sentinel-like, the Grey Heron poses regally


Quiet contemplation

As for birds, we saw terns, gulls and tropicbirds while out at sea. On the islands there were white-breasted waterhens, enormous grey herons and the rarely seen striated heron. An occasional party of crows would breeze through the island. Oddly enough, it was the introduced birds that piqued my curiosity. 



There were rose-ringed parakeets, cockatiels, canaries, budgerigars and a large red and black parrot, which hopped on my shoulder and nibbled my ear. Interestingly, there was also a pair of koels on the island – had they been introduced?



I saw no amphibians, but there were two species of reptiles on the island — a speckled gecko and a species of Calotes lizard. 

Gecko


Calotes lizard
Calotes lizard

Among insects, carpenter bees, honeybees, large lemon-yellow butterflies, ants and wasps were in abundance.



But it was the fish that really blew my mind and pained me for my ignorance. Black-tipped reef sharks, eels, squids, wrasses, blennies, sweetlips, surgeonfish, stingrays… and more fish that I could barely identify.

Pretty orange fish with a pointed snout


Stingrays swarm the reefs at dawn
Sweetlips at the surface
Black-tipped Reef Shark
Blue Surgeonfish (the absent-minded Dory of Finding Nemo)
Moray Eels scavenge near the pier

On a couple of trips we encountered pods of Spinner dolphins, their dorsal fins slicing through the deep blue water and occasionally leaping out in a characteristic spinning motion that gives this species its name. Sadly, they were too quick to photograph.

Lichen rings on the bark of a coconut palm


A fishy funeral – these fish mourn their dead by eating its body



Location of Club Faru in the Laccadive Sea:


 



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