The enchanting island chain of Maldives flanked by the Indian Ocean is naturally enriched with a rich wildlife. The marine life and exotic animals of Maldives have always been and still are the main attractions for the wildlife enthusiasts and the tourists alike. The 26 atolls with their islands having a diverse ecosystem are home to the endemic toad, shrews, flying foxes, lizards, birds, geckos and more such wildlife in Maldives. Apart from the most-celebrated Baa Atoll, protected areas like Fiushee Kandu, Kuda Haa, Lankan Thila and Dhigali Haa are notable for wildlife too.
The Bizarre Wildlife Of Maldives
While Maldives vegetation has abundance of Screw Pine, Palm trees as well as shrubs intolerant of salt, the wildlife too thrives well in the favourable temperature ranging from 24-degree to 32-degree centigrade. Here’s our pick of the wildlife you should not miss in Maldives!
1. Fruit Bats
Residing on the Maldives plants, the Flying Foxes or Fruit Bats are quite common around the resorts. During night, you can hear their squabbling as at that time they come out from their tree covers with the advent of dusk. During daytime, they can be seen hanging from the trees with their heads tucked inward; so the best time to photograph them is during the early evening as they start to take off.
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2. Lizards, Skinks and Geckos
Maldives’ natural resources are quite favourable for the endemic land-based rare reptile species, although the islands are small. The gecko and Garden Lizard are the most commonly found reptiles and you will often see the lizards scurrying around the resorts. The Oriental Garden Lizards and the Agamid Lizard (calotes versicolor) are the vibrant lizards that you will love to photograph. With a bit of luck, you can also see the Lygosoma albopunctata, a skink species which is also an endemic in the list of wildlife in Maldives.
Among the Maldives snakes, the Pelamis platurus and Hydrophis platurus are the common Pelagic Sea Snakes that you can see while you take up a snorkelling session. These are harmless unless disturbed and in warm summers you can see them resting for some time on the beaches. Although the snakes are not so common, the two species of harmless endemic snakes namely Ramphotyphlops braminus or Blind Snake and Lycodon aulicus or Wolf Snakes are endemic to Maldives.
With miles of favourable sea water to thrive, the Sea Turtles like Green Turtle, Leatherback Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle are abundantly found. Maldives wildlife conservation bodies have taken up initiatives to keep the placid waters where the turtles swim, clean. You can also pay a visit to the injured turtles rescue centre. The best time to see turtles is June through November when they lay eggs and with a bit of luck, you can also see the newly hatched turtles heading towards the ocean.
The archipelago surrounded by oceans has helped in keeping the growth of the pelagic birds, of which most migrate from the Eurasian region. The seasonal Frigatebirds can be seen feeding and snatching food from other smaller birds. The White-breasted Waterhens, Common Mynas, House Crows, Pond Herons, Striated Herons, Grey Herons etc. are the common birds listed in Wildlife in Maldives. Due to rich resources, the Black-naped Terns, Saunder’s Tern, Sandpiper as well as Addu Atoll’s Fairy Terns, White-tailed Tropicbird and Audubon’s Shearwater are also seen around the shore.
Suggested Read: 6 Cottages in Maldives To Savor The Luxury Of The Paradise
6. Whales and Dolphins
Like the playful pods of dolphins, watching whales at the Maldives is a dream-come-true. If you go a bit further into the Indian Ocean with a charter or boat, the Spotted Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphin, Fraser’s Dolphin, Rough-toothed Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins can be seen. Among the rare Maldives wildlife, you can see the Dwarf Sperm Whale, False Killer Whale, Deraniyagala’s Whale, Pilot Whale, Bryde’s Whales, Blue Whales and Melon-headed Whale besides the elusive Longman’s Beaked Whale, Dense-beaked Whales, Blainville’s Beaked Whale and Cuvier’s Beaked Whales.
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7. Hammerhead Sharks, Reef Sharks and Whale Sharks
Baa Atoll, Ari Atoll, Maaya Thila and Rasdhoo Atoll are the hotspots for watching the Maldives sharks like Reef Shark, Whale Shark and the elusive Hammerhead Sharks and Nurse Sharks. The Baa Atoll is also famous for the seasonal gathering of the Whale Sharks. The Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks can be seen roaming around in seclusion and as they are habituated with divers, you can swim around them without disturbing. As they are active at night for hunting and feeding, a night dive would be great to catch some action.
8. Manta Rays, Sting Rays and Eagle Rays
Taking a boat or going out for snorkelling can be a great idea to watch these large marine species and a few resorts in Maldives also have their Stingray or Manta Ray feeding sessions to give visitors a closer glance. Yellowfish Tuna can be the national animal of Maldives but Manta rays gliding elegantly on the corals in search of planktons during southwest Monsoon in Hanifaru Bay or Manta Ray Point will be etched in your mind forever. Eagle Rays are also common along with Manta and Sting Rays during seasonal gatherings. It is better to keep minimum distance of 8 feet to avoid being whipped by their deadly tails as self-defence.
From Maldives Spiders like the Black Widow Spider, Lynx Spiders and Argiope anasuja on the trees to the Hermit crabs on the beaches, the invertebrates in Maldives are numerous. You will get to see a plethora of shellfish, centipede, millipede, squids, octopuses, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, brittle stars, starfish, crabs, lobsters and clams in the shallow lagoons as well as while taking a deep dive into the ocean.
You will also see the magnificent jellyfish and anemones –it is recommended that you deter from touching them or stepping on them to avoid excruciating pain. The UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll is famous for 1200 square metres of coral reefs created by polyps –these should not be touched to sustain their normal growth and maintain the norms of wildlife conservation in Maldives.
10. Reef And Marine Fish
With more than 2000 fish species calling the coral reefs surrounding the 26 atolls and the ocean their home, a quick dive into the deep or a snorkelling trip can show you the underwater wildlife in Maldives. The Tuna and Tilapia are among the most abundantly found fish species in the water along with Clownfish, Parrotfish, Longnose Hawkfish, Angelfish and Butterfly Fish.
When you talk about dangerous wildlife in Maldives, the Lionfish, Stonefish, Barracuda, Bluestripe Snapper, Spotted Tornado, Moray Eels, Giant Triggerfish (especially if you go near their nests), Surgeonfish, Squirrelfish and Brown-spotted Spinefoot should be mentioned for their aggressiveness whenever you go too close.
Further Read: 10 Maldives Villas That Offer Utmost Luxury To Travelers
The wildlife in Maldives especially the sharks, coral and turtles are under great threat from pollution and global warming. So, book your trip to Maldives and enjoy the exotic fauna of this place before it’s too late!
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