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2012 ISSUE | FREE

ARTIFICIAL ISLANDS DELIGHTFULLY KURUMBA GUIDE TO ADDU CITY THE ART OF CORAL MASSAGE DIVING IN TO HISTORY, BRITISH LOYALTY WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF PLANKTONS PICNICS, MALDIVIAN STYLE

No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.


4 Nights in Maldives

US$ 1630 per couple*. All inclusive with return transfers from Airport. Plus two free snorkeling trips.

email:info@escalemaldives.com. *Offer valid till 30 April 2012.


Minutes from arrival. Miles from the ordinary.

a true original Kurumba Maldives is set on a tropical island in the North Male Atoll, conveniently located a brief 10-minute speedboat ride away from the airport and Male, the Maldivian Capital. Lush tropical gardens, white sandy beaches, and a vibrant House Reef are the hallmarks of this classic Maldivian resort. Unparalleled choice of dining experiences, recreational activities, and entertainment while maintaining idyllic quiet spaces of relaxation to create the perfect balance for a holiday in paradise, perfect for honeymooners and families alike.

T +960 6642324

KURUMBA MALDIVES Vihamanafushi, Republic of Maldives.  F +960 6643885  E kurumba@kurumba.com  W www.kurumba.com


in this issue 68

28

104

Destinations Heading South! - Escale Guide to Addu 20 City Addu Atoll, now classified as Addu City, is one of the most fascinating destinations, unlike any other in Maldives.

Delightfully Kurumba

28

The first tourist resort in Maldives dit not not only evolve as a luxury hotel but also as a culinary delight!

36 Kulhudhuffushi, An island of special character This large island in the north of Maldives serves as an important hub within the region and attaches itself a very special label.

Nature 42 The Story of a Sperm Whale

A team of locals headed by Dr. R. Kikinger unearth a giant sperm whale and reconstitute its skeleton in Kuramathi Island Resort.

48 Metamorphosis of islands

Some islands do not retain their natural form, some islands undergo many changes throughout the course of their life.

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DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2012 ISSUE

54 From Flying Foxes to Little Hermits: Terrestrial Island Life

Marine Biologist Anke Hoffmeister looks into the terrestial life forms she encoutered during her assignment in the Maldives.

Weird and Wonderful World of 62 The Planktons

An observation of planktonic activities in the Maldivian waters by Anke Hoffmeister.

68 Four Seasons of Maldives

Intriguing as is it is, Ahmed Jameel explains the four seasonal patterns in the Maldives.

Features Fishy business: A way of life 76 Grouper fish culture has been a way of life for these people stationed in the lagoon.

Your Feet, The Art of Coral 82 Pamper Massage

A look into how corraline shores can be of use especially where your feet are concerned.

86 Artificial islands, Man-made wonders!

An account of how some islands become very useful after man-made transformation.

Maldivian style 92 Picnics, Local picnics “à la maldivienne”, are unique and come in many forms.

on to my boat or take that darn 98 Hop plane!

A look into the various modes of transportation in the Maldives and how it has changed over time.

ScubaDiving Snorkeller’s Guide to Reef Fishes. Part 2 104 Part 2 of common reef fishes dwelling in the Maldivian reefs, focusing on their typical characteristics and life basics.

Diving into history: The British Loyalty 110The biggest wreck in the Maldives lies 30ft below in the heart of Addu City. A group of divers explore the wreck.

to Common Corals: PART 1 116 Guide A helpful guide to snorkellers and

divers on common corals in Maldivian reefs.


in this issue 122

116 110

DISTRIBUTION

TravelDiary

Singapore - Un’noun;181 Orchard Central; #02-26/27 Orchard Central. - Sea & Sea Underwater Camera Equipment;1 Coleman Street; #02-13; The Adelphi; Singapore China - 16E NO.1 Heng Fu Building, NO.288 Heng Fu Road,Yue Xiu district, Guangzhou,

Tales from an Atoll hopping trip 122Michelle and Damon join a local team visiting Faafu Atoll and discover the warm hospitality of the island.

If you would like to distribute DISCOVER MALDIVES, Please contact info@escalemaldives.com

that happened in a day; through the lens 132All of a photographer.

Agenda 134 UPDATES Development news from around the

Maldives. Stay informed about newly developed hotels and resorts openings.

138 REVIEWS Reviews of Books, Maps and DVD’s on Maldives.

ON THE COVER

A couple experiences a local boat ride. Photo: Ahmed Zahid

ADVERTISING RATES To advertise on the magazine, please contact info@escalemaldives.com CONTRIBUTIONS Please send in your comments, contributions and letters to the editor to: editor@escalemaldives.com

ON ASSIGNMENT

A typical day on an island becomes a nicely woven tapestry of colours and moods while at the same time the whole rythm of life is alluded to a tropical symphony.

98

Atoll Images photographer on asignment in Gan, Addu City (left). Atoll Images mapping crew posing for a photo at the southern most point in Maldives.

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DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2012 ISSUE


Coco Collection consisting Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Palm Bodu Hithi, two luxurious tropical getaways each with its own distinct personality. Make your visit to paradise memorable with ‘Uniquely Coco’ experiences.

#04-01 STO Trade Centre, PO BOX: 2145, Orchid Magu, Male’ 20-188,Maldives T : + 960 334 55 55 F : + 960 334 66 66, E : marketing@cococollection.com.mv GDS Codes : Amadeus LX MLECPR | Galileo LX 16071 | Sabre LX 16795 www.cocopalm.com


Welcome to the third issue of Discover Maldives. 2011 was a great year for DM. After the successful launch of the magazine at the 2010 ITB fair at Berlin, DM took off reaching new heights. We are proud to note that DM has reached almost every continent and is read by hundreds of people outside the Maldives; London, Barcelona, Paris, Australia, China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and in Indonesia.

DM has reached almost every continent and is read by hundreds of people.

hoto P g n i n Win

Paul Orphandis from Greece wins the prize for submitting the best photo among readers.

This is our 3rd issue and as the new editor, we have tried to focus the contents towards the average traveller, while maintaining our philosophy of bringing the real Maldives to the reader. As such, this issue covers even more features on Maldivian lifestyle and surprisingly wonderful deeper anecdotes from the islands. This we believe creates the fascination for a traveller. To visit the heart of the culture, see, feel and sense the local fabric. Many are those who seek knowledge on other cultures and immerse themselves in a different social setting, a total change of scenery and not necessarily that of five star luxuries but one that also involves cultural enrichment. And we are pleased to present in DM 2012 such knowledge in diverse forms to the curious reader. We therefore hope that DM 2012 provides the necessary information to portray the Maldives as a tourism destination and a medium, which caters to enhancing knowledge. This year DM hopes to reach even wider in terms of readers and decision makers, making it complementary yet providing necessary information before the visitor decides to visit Maldives. Happy reading!

Feedback from readers The magazine looks great! Lots of great photos. I hope the magazine works for your team. It is a world class product. Norman Quinn, US Virgin Islands I must congratulate you and your team for publishing such an excellent magazine. We found it extremely useful and I hope that you will keep us in your mailing list in the future as well. Ahmed Latheef; Ambassador of Maldives to China

You can now read DISCOVER MALDIVES online by visiting

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DISCOVER MALDIVES Registered at Maldives Issue 3, 2012 Published by: Atoll Images Ma.Shah, Dhidhi goalhi, Male, Maldives T +960 334 1643 F +960 333 1643 Web: www.atoll-images.com Email:info@atoll-images.com EDITORIAL Editor: Ahmed Jameel | aj@water-solutions.biz Editorial Consultant: Hassan Shah Travel Consultant: Andhu | info@escalemaldives.com PRODUCTION & ADVERTISING Production: Ahmed Fazeel | Fazeel@water-solutions.biz Marketing: Zeeniya | marketing@water-solutions.biz Cover & contents page layout: Abbu | abbufayax@gmail.com Page Layout: Salle | husensalle@gmail.com Accounts: Aravind | aravind@water-solutions.biz MAPS AND CHARTS by WATER SOLUTIONS Farhath Jameel | farey@water-solutions.biz Hamdhulla Shakeeb | hamdhulla@water-solutions.biz Mohamed Riyaz | riya@water-solutions.biz Abdulla Jameel | ablo@water-solutions.biz LOGISTICS & DIVE OPERATIONS Hussain Mohamed | hussain@water-solutions.biz

DISCOVER MALDIVES is the annual magazine of Escale Maldives, your travel partner in Maldives. Visit www.escalemaldives.com to book your next holiday in Maldives DISCOVER MALDIVES is published by Atoll Images, www.atoll-images.com. Atoll Images is a full subsidiary of Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd and was created with the objective of informing, educating and creating awareness through visual media. Atoll Images publishes, books, magazines, maps and other visual media on various subjects. All letters to the editor should be sent to editor@escalemaldives.coom

All contents of the article is the sole responsibility of the author. The author bears responsibility for the contents of the article.

BLUE, BLUER THAN BLUE THE TWO WORLDS OF FELIVARU KANDU GREAT NORTH MALE’ ATOLL SURF TRAIL HIDDEN CORALREEFS ANATOMY OF AN UNDERWATER PHOTOSHOOT THE DANCING SHORELINE

THE BIG 7 OF MALDIVES

So far the guys have been enjoying the copies we have - the Maldivians are the most interested in it which is great! When we receive the others we can spread them a bit wider around the resort - it’s a fantastic magazine. Lindsay Sullivan; Marine Biologist at Anantara Resort

SHAPES OF ISLANDS KAASHIDHOO ISLAND

SAFEGUARDING THEWHALE SHARKS No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.

2010

SNORKELLERS’ GUIDE TO REEF FISHES No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.

2011

I look forward to reading the new issue of your magazine, and wish you continued success, it is a great publication and deserves full recognition. With kind Regards, Paul

SEND IN YOUR PHOTOS! Send in you photographs taken with DISCOVER MALDIVES. The best photo selected will be published in the next issue and the winner will receive a DISCOVER MALDIVES T-Shirt.

www.escalemaldives.com Terms & Conditions for Escale Maldives Adventure Diving Challenge. (See page 121): Free holiday begins from Male’ only and are non transferable and there is no cash alternative. Escale Maldives reserves the right to substitute the price for one of greater or equal value. Return transfer provided from Male’ only. Accomodation and all meals included, extras not included. Employess, relatives and agents of Escale Maldives, Water Solutions and Island Projects are ineligible to enter. Competition open for locals and foriegners starting from 1st January 2011. Once found, winner must bring the board to Escale Maldives office in Male’. Package subject to availability of rooms in the resort. Winner must travel within 3 months of winning. Escale Maldives cannot be held responsible for any injury caused during the search diving. Remember to get proper diving certification from an approved institution before undertaking any scuba diving and always follow safe diving protocols and never dive alone. The board will be located within a radius of 5-10 metres from the GPS coordinates. Winner must notify to info@escalemaldives.com.


Contributors Ahmed Jameel (AJ) is an Environmental Engineer and has many years of experience in environmental management and particularly in GIS and disaster risk. AJ has authored many papers for international conferences and seminars. AJ’s involvement with various government and private sector projects has established very good links with the island community and the private sector. His personal interests include snorkelling, travelling, photography, geography and writing.

Ahmed Abdul Majeed (Andhu)

is a travel enthusiast and his passion for visiting new places has infused some articles with the local flavour. With a background in tourism studies and teaching French as a foreing language, he is currently working with the Escale Team and has been contributing to develop the Discover Maldives magazine in all its stages. Recently he started diving and is currently enjoying his new found hobby.

Amooo is an Environmental consultant and a keen photographer. Has good knowledge of the Maldives, especially the outer islands. Personal interests include snorkelling, diving, particularly exploring new dive sites, travelling, photography, watching movies, geography, writing, and spending time with family.

Mohamed Riyaz is a surveyor and an award winning photographer presently working for Water Solutions. He has undertaken more than 50 hydrographic and topographic surveys and enjoys photography and traveling. He has captured images from all corners of Maldives.

Anke Hofmeister, M.Sc.

Michelle Walker is an environmental scientist with a particular interest in working with communities to reduce environmental impact. She first visited the Maldives in 2011 and was fascinated to see parallels between remote island life and life in remote outback Australia.

Damon Pyke

is a Marine Biologist and worked in the Maldives from 2004 until 2010. She was employed by Kuramathi and Soneva Fushi and has managed the latter resort’s sustainability programme.

Hassan Shah

Special Thanks to; Universal Resorts, Coco Palm Resorts Kate Wilson (Soneva Fushi by Six Senses), Hussain Mufeed -Herathere Resort, Murray (Equator Village), Bakuru-Kaimoo Hotels & resorts Andulla Ali - Regional Manager, Water Solutions, Huvadhoo Branch, Thinadhoo Faana Koshi, Mohamed Zahir Aminath Jameel - North Province Office, Upper South Province Office, Ahmed Fayaz, Abbu

Damon is an environmental consultant from the Australian desert and is an enthusiastic traveller, photographer and wildlife watcher, from birds in the Australian outback to coral reef fish in the Maldives.

Hussain Rifaa is a divemaster and the SCUBA diving consultant for Escale Maldives. He has over 8 years of diving experience and logged more than two thousand dives. He works six months a year on liveaboards and the rest based in Male’. He is very familiar with South Male’ and Ari Atoll dive sites. His knowledge and experience is continuously used by Escale Maldives for their activities, including organizing diving tours and exploration dives.

Verena Wiesbauer Ali, MSc. is a freelance marine biologist specialized in a combination of tourism & marine biology, as well as coral nurseries and artificial reefs. She has co-authored the book “Dangerous Marine Animals” (2009) and “Trees and Flowers of Maldives” (in print).

has a background in environmental sciences and has undertaken several environmental projects for both government and the private sector. He is a keen SCUBA diver.

Dr. Reinhard Kikinger, PhD Thorif Waheed Rory Davis is a professional acupuncturist from Australia who has been trained in Australia and China. Being married to a Maldivian, Maldives is his second home. He enjoys snorkeling, local food, traveling, diving and watching movies while in Maldives. He joined the Discover Maldives team in 2011.

is an adventure SCUBA diver. He continues his exploration with Escale Maldives SCUBA diving team and continuously is on the look for new and exciting dive sites.

is a senior biologist at the Kuramathi Bio Station (www.kuram­athi.com) and co-author of the book “Dangerous Marine Animals”. In Europe he lectures at universi­ties in Austria about coral reefs and about tourism management. He also is head of the “Seawatching Excursions” in the Mediterra­nean Sea.

Would you like to contribute? Would you like to be part of us or do you have a passion to write or have photos that are worthy of publishing? We are looking for photographers and writers to contribute to our magazine. Escale Maldives is very keen to develop the Maldivian youth and if you think you have the motivation and interest to try something new, then write to us. Travellers who have a story to tell may also write to us. Please send all your queries to the editor at editor@escalemaldives.com.

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DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2012 ISSUE


introducing the most updated range of maps on MALDIVES

Get the latest maps of Atolls, islands, reefs, resorts & dive sites.

water-solutions.biz


Basic Maldives Land Area

National Flower

1,190 islands with a land area of 115 square miles (298 sq. km)

Haa Alif Atoll Haa Dhaalu Atoll

Language

Dhivehi is the national language. The script is called “Thaana”. English is widely spoken in the government offices, business sectors and is the medium of instruction in schools.

Temperature

Average temperature of 28˚C. Temperature varies between 31˚C during the day to 23˚C during the night.

Shaviyani Atoll

Noonu Atoll Raa Atoll Lhaviyani Atoll Baa Atoll Kaafu Atoll

North Ari Atoll

MALE’

South Ari Atoll Vaavu Atoll Faafu Atoll Dhaalu Atoll

Meemu Atoll

Electricity

220 - 240 volts

Time Zone

+5 Hrs GMT (some resorts add +1 hour)

100% Islam

Major Industries

Tourism, fish canning, manufacture of garments, boat building, and handicrafts. Maldives has 7 airports. Two International and 5 domestic. In addition, Maldives also has the largest seaplane operation in the world. There are two sea plane operators carrying thousands of passengers to the atolls.

98.2percent (Age group 1045 years.

Immediate Neighbours

Working hours Gaafu Alif Atoll

Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

Gnaviyani Atoll

Working Banks : 9 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. (Sun to Thu), Government Offices : 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Sun to Thu), Fri and Sat holidays. Private Offices: Open between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and close between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with a lunch break in between.

Seenu Atoll

BASIC ATOLL GEOGRAPHY

Currency

Maldivian Rufiyaa (1 US$ = Rf 15.42)

DID YOU KNOW?

Literacy Rate

India and Sri Lanka

Independent Republic

20 atolls

Religion

Thaa Atoll

Political Status Administrative Divisions

Pink Rose(Rosa Polyantha)

DID YOU KNOW?

Maldives has two Monsoons. The South-west monsoon extends from May to October and brings more rain accompanied by wind. The North-east monsoon extends from November to April and is drier and brings less wind.

Koattay

Island

EIDHIGALHI KILHI

HITHADHOO

Rujjehera

Gaukedi Hankede Hankedehajaru

14

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2012 ISSUE

Maradhoo

Reef


Maafannu

Total Male Female

Total Male Female

Machchangoalhi

H

Raaveriyaa

Viligili Ferry Terminal

H

Raambaa

Cemetry 4

Fulooniya Ma gu

Muranga Magu

Ali Rasgefaanu Ziyaarai

Lemon Grass

Irama Magu

M A J E E D H E E

A m e e n e e

South West Harbour

Buruzu Magu

P

ATM

Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital

ATM

395

Royal Inn

n Higu eree

e

Hav

Sri Lankan Foods

West Park

Villingilli View Inn

29,964 14,833 15,131

19,580 9544 10,036

19,414 9578 9836

Bod

agu

nu M

ufaa

utha kur

ni Hingun

Kanba Aisa Ra

Total Male Female

gu

Izzudheen Ma

Higun Handhuvaree

Galolhu

faan

Stadium

M a g u

ivey

Mu

M A G U H H Abalone Tourist Inn

ATM

Farivaa Stay

H ATM

agu

P

Iskandharu Magu

u

g Ma

Buruzu Magu

Cemetry 3

Transit Inn

Juway’s

H Café

Garbage Dumping Area

Cemetry 5

ATM

Synthiana

ATM

Ahmadhee Bazaar Area

Fish Market

Seagull Café Salsa Café

Olive Garden

Theemuge

Symphony

Local Market

M A J E E D H E E

e

he

ed

re Fa

Salsa Royal

uM

aar

diy

Fan

agu oM

gu

u Ma

Nalahiya Hotel

kuru

tha Bodu

Hilaalee Magu

23,597 11,648 11,949

u

Total Male Female

Ma a

O en

u dM rch i di M ag

ru K Koa

u

anu Magu

Henveiru

ag

ag vey

oM

Maafaiythakurufa

GU

Maldives Ports Authority Area

Higun

ATM

M A G U

gu

ATM

gu

ed Ma

President’s Office Amee r Ahm

Jetty 5

P

Sinamale’ Flats

gu

Lonuziyaarai Ma

Bodurasgefaanu Magu

Sea Wall

A m e e n e e M a g u

H

Host Inn

H Central Hotel

National Art Gallery

H

Champa Moon

Athama Palace

H

Light house Café

ATM

Cemetery 2

Children’s Park

igas

Magu

Magu

Lonuziyaaraikolhu Surf Break

Artificial Beach

LEGEND

400 Meters

ATM H Hotel / Guest house Bank of Maldives Mosque Bank of Maldives ATM Places of interest P Police Station Banks Cinema Public Toilet Excercise area Restaurant Ferry Terminal Swimming Area Filling Station Traffic Light

P

Tandoor

Dinemore

Map courtesy of amooo.com

ATM

ATM

H

City Palace

Dine N Dine

M A G Hotel U

Henveiru Grounds

agu

Male’ Inn H

u

Mag

Roa sha nee M

Viole t

Dharubaaruge / Convention Center urufaanu Boduthak

STELCO Powerhouse

H

Kinb

Sea House Hulhumale’ Ferry

H Terminal Alimas Carnival

N

Maagiri Area Lodge Ground Six H H Farivaa Inn KAM Hotel H Mookai Hotel Dolphin Café Candies H

Trends H Nasandhura Palace Hotel

Airpo Jetty 1 rt Ferry 0

M A J E E D H E E

ATM

ADK Hospital

H

Skai Lodge

ATM

Fisherman’s Park

0

MAP OF MALE’, 2008

Raiy vila aM agu Cemetry 1

Hut

Galanga

Fasfinn Lodge City Hideaway

H

National Stadium

H

Dhonveli Inn

Buruneege Residence Wood Apple

H

Parliament House

Hukuru Miskiiy Republic Monument Medhuziya National Royal Garden araiy Magu Museum Muleeaage Medhuziyaarai

Sultan Park Lily Magu

UN Building

Falhumathee Ma

Jumhooree Maidhan

BandeyrigeMaldives National Defence Islamic Center Force (MNDF) Minaret

P

Official Jetty 2 Jetty

Jetty 1

u

103,693 51,992 51,701

nu Magu

Rehendhi Hig un

CHA

gu isy

EE

Jetty 3

Da

Ma

A

MA Rah

Jetty 4 Magu likilege faanu

a Mag uheen Husn Koimalaa Higun

Total Male Female

un

NDH AN

S Shooupvenir s S Shooupvenir s debai M agu

Jetty 6 Kashimaa Higun

Population Census 2006 (March)

un

POPULATION

Dhonadharaadha Hig

S O S U N

Jetty 9

Janavaree Magu

Jetty 7 Irudheymaa Hig

Jetty 8

M A G U

Moonima Higun

Magu Nikagas Amina Rani

aanu Magu

Boduthakurufaa

Janavaree Higun

La

Raiyvilla Higun

gu

Ma

gu

aru

Bodufungandu Ma

of ino

Boduthakuruf


photosfrom Maldives A dd u C it y

al e’ C ap it al M

North M a le ’ A t o ll

Capi tal Male ’

N il an d h o o

to ll , F aa f u A

T h in ad


A to ll f u D h aa l d h o o , G aa

Male’, Kaafu Atoll

ll M al e’ A to o s , N o rt h K u d a B an d

ll M al e’ A to p a, N o rt h S & h c ea D h o n ve li B D h u n ik o lh

ll u , B aa A to

ll aa A li f A to B aa ra h , H


A to ll N o rt h A ri

photosfrom Maldives

Herethere resort, Addu City

No rt h Ar i At ol l

M aa f u s h i,

e’ A to ll S o u th M al


av iy an i V ag ar u , S h

A to ll

A d d u C it y

A to ll H aa D h aa lu to ll fu A li f A ad ah a, G aa H tt ya H P ar k


A typical road in Gan lined with Pine trees.


Text: Ahmed (Andhu), Photos by Amooo

Lying on the southern most part of the Maldivian Archipelago, Addu City, formerly Addu Atoll evokes a multitude of words. People, history, food, traders, politics and more. The Atoll is an amalgam of all these, with a specific identity attached to its name. The naturally formed Addu Atoll is almost heart-shaped, its islands stretching over the bordering reefs. However, today this naturally formed atoll is administratively grouped together with Fuvahmulah Atoll, to form the Southern Province of the


T

he islands are rich in flora and fauna. In the olden days, agriculture was widely practiced, thanks to the fertile soil and availability of land. Corn, taro, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and other fruit trees were abundant. In-house gardens are a common sight and the pink rose used to be a common flower, until the British introduced the red rose. However, livelihood agricultural activities have waned over time as inhabitants dispersed looking for other opportunities. What used to be Addu Atoll, the vibrant hub of the south, slowed down for a short period, as many people moved to the captial Male’ and to jobs in resorts. Nevertheless, development has once again fueled the economic machine that makes the Atoll boast of what it has become today. The main islands of Addu comprise of Hithadhoo, Maradhoo, Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Feydhoo, Gan, Villingili, Herethere, Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo. A feature unique to this atoll is the connecting islands on the eastern side (Gan, Feydhoo, MaradhooFeydhoo, Maradhoo & Hitahdhoo) by causeways. This forms the longest paved road in the Maldives (17km), popularly known as the link road. It is a major feature of the City, a strip of modernity blending in with the island environment, which today has become the pride of its inhabitants. The long and winding road forms the inner border of

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DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2012 ISSUE

the islands on the western side of the atoll. City with a rich history Addu City’s past marks an important chapter in the history of Maldives. A separatist movement, in what was to become the United Suvadive Republic, originated here. Although short lived and ousted by the government, the separation of Addu Atoll from the rest of Maldives, would have been an ambitious plan. The “Addu rebellion”

reached its peak accumulating from several discontentments; the government imposing tax, controlling seafaring trade with neighboring countries and finally a row involving the lease of Gan for a 100 years. The newly declared state, though for a brief moment, backed by the British, was headed by Abdulla Afeef Didi. Inspired by the economical and social advantages enjoyed by the people of Addu Atoll, Fuvahmulah and Huvadhu Atoll also joined to form the new


Destinations

Republic. However, the Sultan’s government quelled the rebellion putting an end to the separated state. With the help of the British, Afeef Didi was escorted to Seychelles where he spent the rest of his life until his death. Addu City was known for its craftsmanship. However fisheries did not flourish on a commercial scale until the mechanization of local fishing boats. During the British times, the locals also gained training in various fields and their presence has contributed to infrastructure developments. The locals also benefited by way of getting familiar with the English language while at the same time masonry, carpentry and even embroidery were skills already practiced. Even more defining is the individuality and pride, the people of Addu holds within them. This can be attributed to them having lived and witnessed many events that make Addu Atoll, the thriving “island-city”. Eminent people, education and direct external trade are just a few factors that owes to what lies behind strong characteristics of Addu City. They speak a special dialect of Dhivehi language, which must have evolved over time with influences from regional countries. Curiously, traces of older forms of Dhivehi can be found on gravestones indicating the existence of the oldest form of Dhivehi

script. Eveyla Akuru, as it is known, is believed to have (to be quoted ) descended from Elu, an ancient form of Singhalese language. Linguistic traits and an educated group within society all have contributed to a rich society in the Addu of the past. Not only there were learned men but also there were very enterprising group of people highly active in business with the neighboring countries. Addu is believed to have a fleet of boats that navigated out of the Maldives,

With the SAARC 2011 summit, Addu City can now boast about having the largest building (newly built convention centre) in the Maldives. Meedhoo island is believed to be the place where the oldest Muslim settlement in Maldives is found. The British Loyalty found in the heart of the atoll lagoon is the largest wreck in the Maldives and the only boat wrecked during the WWII. The longest paved road (Addu link road) is in Addu City.

directly dealing with India and Sri Lanka without passing through Male’. The traders of the epoch are well known people in the society and are behind the major names in the local traders list. Although access to Addu City used to be only by boat, it is now common for most

....................................................................................... 1. Gan island is characterised by greenery and an abundance of pine trees. ....................................................................................... 2. Harvesting taro in Hithadhoo. Some farmers work here on a daily basis. ....................................................................................... 3. Bicycle ride along the link road road is very pleasant when its cooler. ....................................................................................... 4. Relaxing in the house compound. Girl on a swing made from an iron wheel. ....................................................................................... 5. Taro is still the staple food of many people. Many taro fields still exist in these islands, but their numbers are declining. ....................................................................................... 6. Cargo ship moored alongside Maradhoo-Feydhoo harbour. These boats used to carry passenger and cargo before aviation began operations. .......................................................................................

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Hot Tip for Travellers The western stretch of the islands can be explored by bike! Don’t miss out a dive to British Loyalty!

people to fly to Gan Airport, which came into existence during the British RAF times. Unlike the other islands in the Atoll, Gan is well planned for the settlement of RAF and its original inhabitants were moved to the nearby Feydhoo island. Today a war memorial, old canons, abandoned swimming pools and other structures of the British times can be seen either abandoned or renovated. Neatly paved roads bordered by pine trees and trimmed grass differentiate the island from the rest. Gan is connected to the next island Feydhoo by a causeway marking the beginning of the Addu link road. This would probably be the best feature for the visitor; being able to freely move around to other islands. For those staying at the Equator Village in Gan, bicycles can be hired to move around and visit the other islands and up to Hithadhoo protected area. Today the Equator Village in Gan caters for the average tourists and the experience is exhilarating. It is not just the Equator Village that makes the visit worthwhile, but rather the extra opportunities like hiring a bike and visiting nearby villages, diving and snorkelling that also makes Gan a very special place. Next to Gan is Feydhoo, the southernmost

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01

inhabited island of the Maldives. The people of Gan Island were moved here at the time of leasing the island for the RAF. Not quite the domino effect, but in the same sequence, the residents of Feydhoo were moved to the eastern side of the next island, Maradhoo. Typical island life can be seen here as the inhabitants stroll along at a leisurely pace. Tourists are not new to them and a hello is

always welcome. This is island hospitality. At first they may seem to be timid, but soon become friendly as you show friendly gestures to them. Maradhoo-Feydhoo comes next. The name of the island is a combined word from the two islands. During the population relocation at the time of the British RAF settlement,


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the people of Feydhoo were moved to Maradhoo Island and the newly moved population claimed their own territory within the Maradhoo Island, calling it MaradhooFeydhoo. Moving north along the western chain of islands of the atoll, Maradhoo island features one of the most important infrastructure development projects of the RAF times. The site consists of a marine maintenance base and a slipway. The facility is still in use by a local private company. Unique geography As you leave Maradhoo on bike, the road ahead will lead your leisurely stroll upto the largest island in the western chain. This is Hithadhoo. The journey takes about 20 minutes and wearing a helmet is compulsory when driving a motorcycle (between Maradhoo and Hithadhoo). Coconut palms and other vegetation borders the road and local picnickers can often be seen enjoying the many picnic spots found on both sides along this stretch of land that leads to Hithadhoo.

Hithadhoo is comprised of a vast land area and to its extreme north, is the Hithadhoo protected area, covering a large fresh water pond, mangroves, a large shallow enclosed lagoon and its surrounding reefs. Nature at its best, this site is home to many species of birds and fresh water fish. A walking trail in this area paves the way for nature lovers ready to explore a very special ecosystem that differs much from the standard postcard of the Maldivian environment. Hithadhoo protected area is considered one of the most unique environments in the Maldives. Moving away from the western chain of islands and separated by the lagoon is yet another string of islands situated on the eastern chain of reefs. These islands are Meedhoo, Hulhudhoo, Herathera and Villingili, the latter are now tourist resorts. Meedhoo is known to be the oldest inhabited island in Addu Atoll with human settlement of Indo Aryan origin, dating back to 500 BC to 1000 BC. It is also believed that the first mosque of the Maldives was built here with the arrival of an Arab traveler who converted the inhabitants to Islam. Beginning from a religious schooling, a system of education would have originated from within the mosque, which is the reason for the many notable erudites who were born here and many who have filled important posts in the island. Consequently, Meedhoo also had a class system at the time, which has gradually disappeared. Meedhoo and its neighbouring Hulhudhoo used to be one island called Hulhumeedhoo. However, today both Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo are separated by their own administrative offices.

....................................................................................... 7. The many courseways along the link road are also fun spots for the youth. ....................................................................................... 8. The patio of a traditional house built with corals. ....................................................................................... 9. Ancient Dhivehi script found on the grave stone in one of the oldest cemeteries in Maldives. ....................................................................................... 10. The white tern can easily be seen in many parts of Addu City. ....................................................................................... 11. The end of an octopus hunt. A popular activity for locals. ....................................................................................... 12. Water melon harvest in one of the water melon fields in Hithadhoo. .......................................................................................

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As tourism, though slow to start, finally reached Addu City, the island of Herathera became Herathera Island Resort and Spa and Villingili became Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives. New to tourism in this region, these islands had the privilege of offering unspoilt nature spots. Diving became more and more popular in the area with the highlight being the famous “British Loyalty” wreck sunken in the Addu lagoon when it was first torpedoed by Japanese and then later by the German U boat during the second world war. Lying at a depth of 30m, this has become one of the highlights of Addu City diving.

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For the first time visitor to Addu City, these chain of islands would reveal contrasting landscapes to those in many other parts of Maldives and it is indeed a place worth visiting for its character, people, history and finally for what it has transformed to today. The scale of the City combined with its specificities and historical anecdotes provides for an unparalleled discovery of Maldives deep down.

....................................................................................... 13. A group of friends stroll along the main road, Hithadhoo. ....................................................................................... 14. This sun dial is believed to have been used in this mosque in Gan a very long time ago. ....................................................................................... 15. Fishermen busy at the port, unloading the day’s catch. .......................................................................................


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Low aerial shot of Kurumba Maldives. Photo Courtesy of Universal Resorts.


Text: Ahmed (Andhu)

Kurumba, (means coconut in local language Dhivehi), a fruit so well engraved in the heart of the Maldivian culture also penetrates deep into the country’s tourism industry. Its fruit bearing palms are emblematic of this tropical haven in Maldives. Kurumba, as we know today, is one of the pioneers of the local tourism industry. Kurumba Village was established as the first tourist resort in early 1970’s. Today it is a popular luxury five-star holiday destination.


The island has transformed into a gourmet haven with its several food outlets serving a myriad of international cuisine. There are also more laid back options for an occasional pass time. The sand bar, and the Kurumba café counts among these where one would most probably spend long hours lounging in its comfort to the background music. The latter especially gives you an all day dining option à la carte which includes many international favourites for a quick bite or a meal. The Kurumba Café menu is also available at poolside tables, and on Raha Beach at poolside, where you can dine with your feet in the sand under a palm tree, gazing over the ocean. And finally the beach bar is where one would most probably look forward to spending the rest of the evening where every night comes with a different entertainment activity with live music, Duo, Jazz, Dj night, and Traditional performance “ Boduberu “ Kurumba is also a first choice for many

Whenever I stepped in during meal times I thought to myself, “this is where my meals are going to be”. But then, that does not end here, it’s the same anywhere I went!! The service is wonderful as friendly waiters attend to your requests, displaying their

“ For those looking for an extra

speciality, the champagne breakfast has proven to be a favourite of many clients ” private functions from international companies, government and local corporate sectors. Undoubtedly the quality of service for such events together with catering, creates an all-in-one solution for event organisers. I spent two days in Kurumba strolling between one restaurant and another. A constant factor that I noticed in all these places is the warm and welcoming ambience.

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professional skills. Just the right combination to win the heart of the client, I said to myself. And it’s a team effort that makes Kurumba’s gourmet side to be placed so well above its competitors. Under the scrupulous supervision of its Executive Chef, Mr. David Minten and with 20 years experience behind him, I could not have expected any less. And it’s no chance happening that, as Mr. Minten added, “many clients also choose Kurumba because of its restaurants.”

Eight restaurants and three bars on one island, already a considerable number for a Maldivian resort, is simply what attracted me. Vihamana Restaurant, named after the island’s original name, is the main restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The ultimate indulgence in variety. Food presentation is sumptuous and the deco simple and inviting. Dinners come in themes: Maldivian Night, Tastes of Asia, Senses & Spices, South American, International, Pan Asian and Mediterranean. I began my culinary escapade at the main restaurant. After the friendly welcome at the entrance, I marked my table and headed directly to the food counter. My sweet tooth was longing to taste the desserts, richly presented at one end of the buffet counter. Main course first, though! With little time on hand, I composed my salad of green leaves and other vegetables neatly arranged in vibrant colours, mixed them in French vinaigrette and admired my dish.


Destinations The first mouthful woke up my taste buds, an explosion of saveurs within my mouth. I could feel my appetite building up gradually. Approaching the buffet, I decided to be disciplined, but then ended up serving beef and roasted potatoes together with a mix of rice and a huge piece of

theme. The interior does indeed give a transformation to what the other restaurants in the island offer. Tucked inside the island and led by a path to a private spot, I entered with much excitement. At the entrance, the chef and a waiter awaited to receive guests and I could sense they were ready to delight the diners. It could have been anything from grilled meats, kebabs, mezze and dips. One could see that every necessary step was taken to bring out the Arabic touch, from the menus to the decorative objects all within a palatial décor. On the table was laid out an array of Arabian food prepared by the restaurant’s skilled personnel. The atmosphere was pleasantly filled with a mix of mild spices and herbal aromas and it was obviously going to make me spend a long time here. One can tell the effort put in setting up the place to meet the theme of Al Qasr. The chef passed by

............................................................................................ 1. . Aerial view of Kurumba. ............................................................................................ 2. Lazing around on the beach and watching the day pass by. ............................................................................................ 3. A ceremonial wedding, local style. ............................................................................................ 4. Dolphin watching trip. ............................................................................................ 5. Wake up to your own rhythm and treat yourself to the champagne breakfast. ............................................................................................ 6. Beach bar at dusk in a very comfortable dinner setting. ............................................................................................ Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Universal Resorts.

The resort is only 10 minutes by speed boat from the airport. The original name of the island is “Vihamanaafushi”. Is among the first resorts to open in Maldives.

chicken covered in a delightful creamy sauce. Every mouthful was like a new experience! To complete my dinner, I impatiently scanned the desserts and helped myself to the chocolate mousse. Forgetting I had just consumed a huge main course, I scooped a generous amount and began enjoying it slowly. The consistency was perfectly moist and the milky chocolate taste whirled within my mouth. For those looking for an extra speciality, the champagne breakfast has proven to be a favourite of many clients. The special breakfast comes with a plateau of freshly made pastries and tropical fruits colourfully arranged on a plate. The rest you can choose from the à la carte menu as the champagne bubbles rise within the flute. The setting itself is to be admired, eating al-fresco by the beach or the sun-deck, waves lapping over the shore and the morning sun bathing your skin. Another unique speciality restaurant is Al Qasr, the restaurant with an Arabic

and greeted with undoubtable aplomb. The food he had prepared was attractively laid out. From start to the end of my meal, I was living within the subtle mix of aromas, enjoying every bite and trying to determine my favourite dish for the evening. After a moment of much indecisiveness, I decided to just continue savoring all that were presented on the table. And that’s not all for those looking for elaborate cuisines longing to try out new tastes from different horizons. Kurumba Mahal is just next door to the Chinese and Middle Eastern restaurants. As usual I was there for dinner time. Mildly enchanted by the decoration outside, a garden lit in small drops of festival lights, I opened the door of Kurumba Mahal. There’s no denying to the typical Indian touch with heavy decorative motives and a cozy ambience to dine away a whole evening. As usual, the food that came matched the expectation. The rich spicy Indian dishes were rather loyal to its

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renowned cuisine and my gourmet senses bore witness to this fact. Meals befitting a royal reception I thought to myself; although what I had were just a few from an extensive list of curries, rice, masalas and Indian breads. The occasion called for indulgence as I began serving myself freshly baked naan with chicken masala accompanied by raita. The meal was heavy on the stomach, yet fullfiling, as I ended with a Kheer (rice pudding). Although a bit sweet for the western palate, this milk based recipe is ideal after the rich and spicy flavours of the Indian cuisine. The menu proposed several others, but those had to wait for a latter day. When it comes to oriental cuisine, the Chinese restaurent would definitely score high in the regional charts. Ming Court at Kurumba is a must to complete a culinary adventure during your holiday. Each restaurant differentiating from the other by their authenticity, food served here also guarantees a very satisfying dining experience especially with a dĂŠcor that blends well within the theme. Ming court has a modern touch adorned with Chinese decorative

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elements and offers renowned traditional dishes from the Canton and Schezuan regions. When the chef appeared, I thought to myself, where else but in the hands of a Chinese chef would the best Chinese food come from? Sitting by a table for six, I gazed at what was presented on the table. The larger oval plates were on the turntable for easy reach by individual diners. A delightfully decorated mouth watering set of Chinese dishes including a lobster all served in generous portions! Added to this, a sizzling beef dish, straight out of the wok occupied its deserving table space. After an initial few minutes of wide-eyed curiosity I helped myself to the spread of dishes and went on guessing to myself about the ingredients that created these tasteful dishes. The Sounds of the Sea dining is organised at the beach as a special dining experience for couples. This is the best anyone can get in the tropics, listening to the sounds of the waves dining against a backdrop of the sunset, transforming the colours along the horizon. A butler at your service, dining al-fresco at

...................................................................................................................... 7. Sounds of the sea dinner is especially recommenced for a very private and cozy experience. ...................................................................................................................... 8. Chef prepares a menu item. ...................................................................................................................... 9. Evenings at Kurumba are best shared around a dining experience with your loved one. ...................................................................................................................... 10. Middle Eastern cuisine is presented in an ambience worthy of its name. ...................................................................................................................... 11. The Chinese restaurant is a delight for those looking for well presented food. ...................................................................................................................... 12. All that aroma of spices fill the Indian restaurant during meal times. ...................................................................................................................... 13. Pizza lovers can opt for their choice anywhere by the pool or by the beach. ...................................................................................................................... 14. For a fine pallet, the Italian restaurant proposes many delightful desserts. ...................................................................................................................... Photo Credits: Photo 7,8,10 &13, courtesy of Universal Resorts. Photo 9,11,12,14 by Riya.


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At a glance this special spot is becoming a sought after activity. It’s a five-course meal accompanied with good wine. But, by far the most adventurous gastronomical experience would be the “All inclusive dine-around” option recently introduced in Kurumba. Although several options are available, I would most certainly opt for this for a very good reason. It’s like opening a huge gate into the pleasures in life. Different cuisines at a food outlet of your choice. A food lover would not hesitate to plan well, or just walk in doing rounds of the available options before finally getting settled for a meal. As for me, I would most certainly spend a good amount of time doing rounds at different restaurants at different meal times. The “All inclusive dine-around” option is in addition to the “All inclusive” food option. Those who have a flair for the Asian tastes, Ocean Grill is worth exploring. The décor itself is not very exaggerated but overlooking the lagoon, offers romantic dinners beneath the stars on the deck outside. The food here is mostly inspired by Maldivian and Indian Cuisine and creative fusion of Asian cuisine presenting hearty happy hours. The best part is the grill area where the masters of culinary art are at the centre of the preparations counter. Every now and then a whiff of smoke and fire makes a show as meat is grilled from time to time. The dishes are colourfully garnished and neatly presented. It’s an overall pleasant dining experience here, but do see that you get a table outside on the deck. And the list goes on. For a curious palate, no culinary wind up is complete without Japanese food. Mild in taste and aesthetically colourful, Japanese cuisine is served at the Hamekaze. The Sushi Bar and the Teppenyaki counter serves lots of sea food

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with the chef displaying his awe-inspiring culinary skills. I enjoyed watching the counter layout as the chef prepared some menus. The presentation is inviting. As the Ocean Grill is just a step away, one might just even stopover at this counter and decide to proceed no further. Such spoils however are normal in a place where dining options are abundantly around you. But if one is looking for a dramatic twist of flavour away from the Asian spices and Mediterranean aromas, La Cucina is highly recommendable. Inspired by the regional cuisines of Tuscany, Lombardy, Sardinia and Sicily, dining in this restaurant is a very intimate affair, all in a very quiet and elegant setting. The desserts are equally rich in taste and in presentation. My sweet tooth judged the richness of the two desserts I just had to taste. Zabaglione al lemonella and Cannelloni tillail with Valrhona chocolate served with berries. The name itself sounded rich! Initially, I hesitated in destroying the exquisite arrangements on the plate but soon ended up greedily digging into it and agreeing to what it was going to prove; delightfully rich and best after a hearty meal. For wine connoisseurs, the menu also offers a wide choice of brands to create the best combination. The talk of Italian cuisine is obviously incomplete without the mention of

Getting there: Just in less than 10 minutes speed boat ride from the international airport. Accommodation: Set within a lush vegetation, Kurumba offers eight categories of accommodation ranging from Superior to Royal Residence. Activities: A wide array of fun filled water sports, diving, snorkeling, dolphin and sunset cruises, sports fishing, glass bottom boat, a tour of the capital island and many other recreational sports. Further info: www.kurumba.com and for reservations: reservations@ kurumba.com

Kurumba’s much ordered Pizza. And indeed, the Piazza Pizza located on the side of the pool is where the pizzas come from. This would not be the equivalent to a Pizzeria in Italy, yet this small Pizza counter is where it all happens, the chef preparing your pizza right under your eyes before you. Sip a cocktail and order yours as you laze by the pool in the late afternoon. So much to choose from and so much to taste! Kurumba, renowned both for its pioneering efforts in the local hospitality industry and for its emblematic value in the Maldives, has exceeded the former two with a third attribute, that is, “a haven for all gastronomes.”

........................................................................................ 15. The kitchen brigade and the smiles behind the wonderful culinary experience at Kurumba. ........................................................................................ 16. Arrival jetty, just before sunset. ........................................................................................ Photo Credits: Photo 16 courtesy of Universal Resorts. Photo 15 by Riya.


Text: Ahmed (Andhu), Photos by Riya

Men getting ready to board their small Bokkuraa’s besides the newly reclaimed land.


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joined a mapping team to Kulhudhuffushi, hoping to capture some photos and cultural anecdotes that I grew up with. Most of what I used to hear was based on the special humoristic character of its people. As we approached the island, I could feel the vastness of the land, coconut palms lining along its length from left to right. The port, in its proper term, looked typically simple, created out of a dredged lagoon. Local boats of all sizes were moored inside the harbour and I could already see a few activities. As I stepped on the island, a warm greeting by a local - a pre-arranged welcome of which I had no idea - took place on the very spot. A very good feeling for me: We are being taken care of! An island indeed, but the mere size of it makes it barely humanly possible to walk as much as we wanted. Scooters were made available for us, and we set off to our accommodation. Hey wait! I failed to mention about the moment my eyes almost popped out; as we stepped onto the harbour, I saw an expanse of white desert to the right. We were told that this was the newly reclaimed land, an enormous stretch of white sand, bigger than the already existing port area. “The power of machinery,” I sighed! In no time we were on our way, riding along the old shoreline that blended with the newly reclaimed area. My initial impression: development has touched here a long time ago. It seems that there’s no denying to the fact that the people on the island have almost everything they require to lead their modern lifestyles. Shops that sell everything and anything, lined along the road. On the opposite side there were a few indispensable “Haruge”. To give a simple explanation for a visitor, a Haruge is a simple structure like

At a glance Getting there: Just twenty minutes speed boat ride from Hanimaadhoo airport. Accommodation: There are several guest houses and rooms available for rent. Home stay is also possible, provided prior arrangements are made. Activities you can see: Rope making, cadjan weaving, lacquer work, blacksmith’s workshop, fishermen returning at the end of the day and road celebrations during festivals. Further info: +960 3306693

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painful acts such as piercing the tongue and the face during the ceremony. The ceremony is uniquely associated with the culture in Kulhudhuffushi since a long time ago. Although no longer practiced, I could see that Mohamed Ali was a passionate partaker of this special event. He spoke with enthusiasm and did not intend to hide any facts. I felt privileged as he began explaining the intricate details. “The feeling is awesome and I feel no pain. At worst, it may seem like that of a mosquito bite” he added. What I perceived in my mind was that of an African

Hot Tip for TRAVELLERS

ritual, something that does not normally happen in our society. Yet, this long existed tradition used to be undetachable from Kulhudhuffushi and for the people of the island, it’s perfectly normal.

Kulhudhufushi has a beautiful lake or Kulhi which is a wetland ecosystem with numerous birds.

a hut, its base made of huge logs, elevated from the ground. The roof structure rests on four posts, leaving all four sides open. They continue to provide a place for island people to laze around and have informal discussions. Kulhudhuffushi is a point of convergence! The “Haa Dhaal Regional Hospital”, “Kulhudhuffushi Regional Port” and a “Regional Police Service” make the island the Atoll capital of the Haa Dhaal island chain and neighboring islands depend on it for many social services and commerce. A large island by local standards, it is also the point of departure to the capital, being a hub for loads of passengers and cargo. A fleet of new age Dhonis (local boats) along with a scheduled transport system originating from Kulhudhuffushi, adds to its important portfolio. We approached our guesthouse. My first reaction: Ample space and well kept! A rush of contentment for me! The rest was definitely going to be ok. After a few minutes

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of settling in, it was time to explore the island, although the day was coming to an end. I had already pre-set appointments to collect information for my travel diary and these were to reveal many facts on the myths and mysteries that I had so long anticipated finding out. I called my “correspondent” and

“The ceremony begins following the afternoon prayers”, he says. “Preliminaries include identifying the site of the event, a large area to accommodate all the participants and the spectators. A long white flag with toothed edges is hoisted at a lower level enough for a person to touch its lower tip, (the significance of which I presume, lies it its austerity.) The music begins and a man chanting verses

“Kulhudhuffushi is a point of convergence within the, region with many important services rendered to nearby islands.” fixed a rendezvous. I walked, as instructed, along the main road and half way along we met and proceeded to our first point of information, a local house. This was where Mohamed Ali lived, one of the few remaining people who passionately followed the tradition of “vajiduvun,” a grand ceremony held on special occasions which involved tambourine music, chantings, dance and most importantly, smearing blood from a sharp object. I recall gruesome stories on extremely

in Arabic continues as the tambourines are played to a rather slow pace. People gather as the event gains its rhythm. Short breaks are taken for prayer times and spectators return to witness the ultimate “blood spill”. Everything revolves around chants and music. The protagonist will try to cut his forehead once or twice and once the blood is spilt, the recitation of verses will act upon healing the wound.” Speaking to the hero of the show, I realized that far from the common notion


Destinations

music. Drinks and short eats are offered after the ceremony. Few people who actively participated in these events still exist. As in the islands, from word to mouth, I traced Ibrahim Moosa, a tambourine player for such ceremonies. He recounted the times when the ceremonies were gloriously held. He showed me the instrument he used, still preserved in a good state.

of severing tissues and piercing the face, tongue and other parts of the body, the aim is to pour blood just enough to show few drops . Mohamed Ali explained that the sharp object they used resembled a small jackknife. He showed me a similar knife, not longer than the palm of his hand. I presumed there were other sharp objects used during the act but then the mere thought of slitting one’s skin with a sharp object sounded painful. Nevertheless, this becomes the peak of the event after which everything slows down with tambourine

......................................................................................... 1. Main road of Kulhudhufushi that bisects the island from east to west. ......................................................................................... 2. Happy smiles we encountered while capturing snap shots. ......................................................................................... 3. A typical view from the main road. Notice the clay roofs of a traditional kitchen. ......................................................................................... 4. Amanzingly narrow maize-like pathways are found in some areas. ......................................................................................... 5. “Holhuashi� is where men gather, discuss, talk and laze around. ......................................................................................... 6. A man proudly showed us his tamborine which he used during special ceremonies such as that described in this article. ......................................................................................... 7. Choir rope making gives some women extra income. ......................................................................................... 8. Coconut leaves are collected for weaving thatch especially to be sold to tourist resorts. .........................................................................................

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The next in my list of discovery was the traditional “Haalu folhi”, a very thin crêpe made out of rice - so thin that it’s almost transparent. They are best when soaked in coconut milk with some sugar added. On the first night of arrival I met Aishath Ibrahim for an initial discussion and fixed a time to observe the process. She welcomed us with a smile, the true warmth of island hospitality. I was made to understand that these fine crêpes were made on a daily basis except on holidays and Fridays. For the past 14 years, she has been in this side business and despite its special nature, the product is very much in demand and sells almost every day. If Aishath earns extra income today, that is thanks to a sick relative who stayed at her place a long time ago and taught her the process, she says. She has been making these Haalu folhi ever since. A typical day for her begins early in the morning, so that her crêpes would be ready to be dried out in the sun around noon. I had no notion of time on the island but when she said to come at seven in the morning, I was mildly shocked! “That early?” But then, procedures are to be followed. I shall not miss out on this one, something I longed to see. Me and our photographer, Riyaz, arrived promptly at 7.00 a.m. in front of her door. Aishath proudly welcomed us and showed us the ingredients she was about to use: homemade rice flour, kept overnight, 5 eggs and some sugar. She mixed them all in a container and made a paste out of it. The kitchen was built for the purpose, a traditional stove dug in the ground. The utensils were equally simple. A wok, a wooden spatula and a piece of cloth to coat a layer of oil. It is however time consuming. The paste is poured like a thin film and spread around in the pre-heated wok. Once dried, it is removed from the

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wooden spatula and left to dry before laying out in the sun. As Aminath continued making the crêpes, blowing the fire, inhaling the smoke and making crêpe by crêpe, I admired her patience and courage. I kept on asking many questions for which she continued to respond, unaffected by the smoky ambience. “We do this every day, but I suppose we cannot go on like this forever right?” she grinned. This was part of her daily life, just one of the ladies in the island engaged in a local specialty. I heard there are a few others in the village. At the end of one hour, I placed my order with her and left her with her work. Now I had to find out where the people of Kulhudhuffushi make other local delicacies. I heard about the “Masbondi”, exclusively prepared in the island for special occasions. The name is derived from its form: a mixture of fish (mas) and spices wrapped in banana leaf, baked in a local pan. Fortunately, my

stay coincided with a public holiday to mark Prophet Mohamed’s birthday. The lady who prepared it called for us to see her work. There was a festive ambience in the house. The lady was preparing her mixture and the Masbondis were to be sold to neighbours. This spiced fish wrap gives a local Maldivian taste and is not too spicy. She offered me one, free of charge, which I tasted sparingly. It was delicious, a unique local delight! Kulhudhuffushi has yet another area of specialty, equally artisanal in nature. I discovered it while being accompanied by a local guide. A family of blacksmiths has been in business for a very long time. “Kanburuge”, literally meaning blacksmith’s home, is the house name (every house in Maldives has a name). The family says they have been in business for 35 years, molding mainly anchors for boats. The work set-up is simple and established within their home compound. I observed as they skillfully heated and bended the iron bars. The fuel utilized for this looks rather eco-friendly, collected from


Destinations Kulhudhuffushi is a regional hub with its Regional Hospital, the MNDF (Defence force) and many cargo and passenger boats departing for the capital Male’. The island of Kulhudhuffushi is famous for “haalufolhi” (rice crepes).

wide road bisecting the land from east to west. Standing at one end I could imagine the road packed with crowds during “kandhaa maali.” This popular event takes place on the last day of the Eid celebrations and is specific to Kulhudhuffushi. Maali, in this ceremony refers to a person disguised as a scary apparition that moves around the island to beat of drums, accompanied by an enthusiastic crowds. It is said that many artisanal works are displayed all throughout the event. Although there is a creepy connotation to Maali, in reality the name has gained its popularity associated with celebrations.

the woods such as dry branches and coconut shells. Periodically, petrol has to be sprinkled to fuel up the fire. Few anchors were kept aside, some of them were already polished and ready to be handed over. Their products do not end here, but reach shops in Male’ as well. A similar structure works under the brand HKKG (simply: Haa Dhaal Kulhudhufushi Kunfunige), where manufacturing takes place within the large compound of a typical home. The owner of the place told me, “I inherited the place. Initially, we were only involved in sharpening knives, but then the business gradually expanded to include anchors, knives and other tools that are used both in boats and homes”. Kulhudhufushi is divided into two by a long,

On this main road, only a small number of vehicles drive around, such as scooters and a few taxis, the most common sight are the bicycles. They come in all sorts of colours. In fact I did not expect to see so many bicycles with men, women and children alike riding them. A green initiative though, the people of the island seem to have adopted this form of personal transport in a more fashionable way. We drove to the eastern end of the island, where our local guide pointed out a huge brackish water lake with mangroves around. Now this is a sight for photography, provided one arrives at the right time of the day. It is vast and beautiful, although for the average inhabitant, unfortunately, the sight goes unnoticed. This is a special landscape within Maldives and can be compared with the protected wetland areas in Addu City (the southernmost Atoll of the Maldives), only less cared for! However, people learned to make use of this place, by soaking coconut husks for many days which are later spun into choir

ropes. There were demarcated patches where coconut husks were buried for soaking. To an amateur, it may seem an unpleasant sight, but to get a picture of why this step has to be followed, one would probably understand that it is literally a “down-to-earth” process in using nature’s resources. Only women practice this profession, which is an age old home industry in Kulhudhuffushi. So much of special traits are attached to this island which makes up for the lack of some historical tell tales. And it is true - during my several encounters with the locals, I did find them rather friendly and warm especially when I captured their typical intonation as they spoke.

....................................................... 9. Crepes are first placed over spatulas in the kitchen before they are dried in the sun. ....................................................... 10. The “masbon’di” is a local speciality made out of smoked fish, during marked holidays. ....................................................... 11. A blacksmith working on his iron bars to make anchors. “A rather good income,” he says. ....................................................... 12. One of the surviving performers during the ceremonial “self-infliction of pain.” It is no longer practiced in the island. ....................................................... 13. Although not very common, lacquer work is still made by some individuals. .......................................................

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2004

2010

09th December - DISCOVERY

20th - 22nd February - EXCAVATION

A dead whale drifts onto the reef of the local island of Molhadhoo in Haa Alifu Atoll, the northernmost Atoll in the Maldives. During high tide, the fishermen succeed in bringing the huge whale body from the reef to the beach. The blubber (fats) and meat of the 36 feet long carcass are removed. Then the remainder of the whale’s body is dissected into three parts. Workers dig a 40 feet long pit in the sandy beach above the high-water level and deposit the whale carefully into its temporary grave. It will rest there for about five years.

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A team from Kuramathi makes a journey to the whale skeleton on Molhadhoo. The local fishermen clear the whale’s grave of vegetation and start digging. At a depth of around one meter, the first bones appear, perfectly clean and in good condition. As soon as the huge skull becomes visible, the species can be identified: it is a sperm whale. The position of every single bone is photographically documented. After that, the bones are cleaned, numbered and stored in wooden boxes. Along the beach and through dense jungle the boxes are carried to a jetty for shipping. They arrive on Kuramathi on the 22nd February 2010.

04th May – 03rd June PREPARATION

The renowned whale specialist Guenther Behrmann from Bremerhaven, Germany, is invited to Kuramathi for preparing the skeleton for later installation. A building is constructed, where the following preparation works are done: - every single bone is thoroughly cleaned (using a brush and compressed air). - all the bones are repeatedly degreased with a detergent (100kg Persil). - after drying, the damaged bones and broken ribs are repaired. - the skull is stabilized using stainless steel poles. - some missing phalanges (fingers) are replaced with wood. - the bones are hardened by painting them with a mixture of water and lime.


Nature

Text and photos: R. Kikinger

It was an afternoon in December 2004, when I received an unusual telephone call. It was my boss, Universal Director Mr. Ali Nordeen (Andeen), and he asked me: “Do you want a whale?” At that time I worked as a resident marine biologist on the Island Resort Kuramathi in Ari Atoll. I was responsible for the operation of the island’s Bio Station, which started in 1999. The offer of a whale was tempting, although I had little information about the details. All I knew was: a dead “Bodumas” (Dhivehi name for “big fish”) was washed onto a beach in one of the northernmost atolls of the Maldives.

2011

The fishermen were asked to strip the skeleton from fat and meat and to bury the skeleton behind the sandy beach. The plan was that we would come later and bring the - meanwhile cleaned - bones to Kuramathi. It took five years until we had the opportunity to visit this remote island, to meet the fishermen, and to get first hand information from them on what had happened in December 2004.

SUMMARY: Our whale was a fully grown female sperm whale aged between 20 and 25 years. She was beached two weeks before the 2004 Tsunami; therefore this natural disaster was not involved in her death. The cause of her early death can only be speculated. A collision with a ship would be a probable explanation. She was found in the northernmost part of the Maldives, not far from the nine degree channel. This is a shipping route for super tankers between the Arabian Gulf, China and Japan.

04th January – 01st March INSTALLATION

Mr. Behrmann returns to Kuramathi and, together with Maldivian assistants, installs the whale skeleton in the Eco Centre. All the vertebrae are fixed to a stainless steel tube, which is attached to the heavy skull. The intervertebral discs are replaced with polyester discs of the original size. The ribs and flippers are attached, and the teeth are cemented into the lower jaws. A bone-colored paint is applied to the whole skeleton, and finally the skeleton is enclosed in a glass cabinet.

However, this was a rare opportunity to get hold of a whale or whale shark carcass and so I answered the question with “Yes please, I want the whale”.

The heavy head is lifted into position with a pulley

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The whole “whale project” only succeeded due to the help of a number of people. The Kuramathi team thanks the fishermen of Molhadhoo. They had the hardest task of moving a dead whale of approximately twenty tons onto the beach; as well as the excavation and transport of the heavy skeleton. All of these tasks were executed perfectly. Special thanks go to Mr. Behrmann for his invaluable help. With his skill as an expert taxidermist he has produced a masterpiece, which will provide a most interesting attraction for our guests for many years.

The local young generation want to learn about the whale skeleton

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SPERM WHALE FACTSHEET Latin name: Synonym:

Physeter macrocephalus, Linne 1758 Physeter catodon (old name) Sperm whale (English), Pottwal (German), Cachalot (French), Cachalote (Spanish), Capidoglio (Italian), Phisitiras (Greek), Favibo (Dhivehi)

Size and weight: Males up to 22 meters, females 10 to 12 meters. Adult males weigh up to 57.000 kg. The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale. Appearance: The very large head is

typically about one-third of the animal’s length, with a single blowhole located close to the left front side of the head. The spray is bushy and forward-angled. It is usually less than two metres high, but can reach five metres. The whale’s fluke is triangular, thick, and lifted high out of the water as it begins a dive. Instead of a dorsal fin it has a series of ridges on the caudal part of the back. The skin is normally a uniform grey color.

Jaws and teeth: There are 20 to 26 teeth on each side of its lower jaw. The teeth are cone-shaped and in adult males a big tooth can weigh up to one kilogram. In the upper jaw only rudimentary teeth are present. The teeth do not appear to be necessary for catching and eating squid.

Respiration and diving: Sperm whales are one of the deepest diving mammals. Typical dives are around 400 metres deep and 35 minutes in duration. But it is believed

that they are able to reach 3,000 meters and remain submerged for 90 minutes. The metabolic rate can be lowered to conserve oxygen, and high levels of myoglobin in the muscle tissue enable them to store vast amounts of oxygen. In addition, the blood contains high levels of oxygen carrying haemoglobin due to the high density of red blood cells. Between dives, the sperm whale surfaces to breathe for about eight minutes before diving again.

Spermaceti: Originally mistaken for the

whale’s sperm (hence the name), spermaceti is created in the spermaceti organ inside the whale’s head. Spermaceti is a semi-liquid, waxy substance, which was used for making a range of industrial and pharmaceutical products. Currently there is no agreement on the biological purpose of spermaceti. It may help adjust the whale’s buoyancy, since the density of spermaceti alters with temperature.

Distribution: The sperm whale is one of

the most cosmopolitan species. It prefers ice-free water over 1000 metres deep. Although both sexes range through temperate and tropical oceans and seas, only adult males populate higher latitudes. Sperm whales are found in all oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea. Usually they prefer deep off-shore waters, but may be seen closer to shore in areas where the continental shelf drops quickly to great depths. Coastal areas with significant sperm whale populations include the Azores and the Caribbean island of Dominica.

Reproduction: Sperm whales can probably live to 70 years or more. Their reproductive strategy is K-selected with a low birth rate, significant parental aid to the offspring, slow maturation and high longevity. Gestation requires 14 to 16 months, producing a single calf. Calves can suckle from females for 19-42 months. The females generally have birth intervals ...................................................................................................... 1. The excavated whale skeleton is cleaned and all bones are numbered. ....................................................................................................... 2. Finally the massive skull is completely unearthed. ....................................................................................................... 3. Fishermen are carrying the heavy head and all the other bones along the beach to a jetty. ....................................................................................................... 4. With great care this precious head is lifted out of its temporal grave. ....................................................................................................... 5. The skull is hovering on a crane above a big bath tub. One hundred kg of washing powder were necessary for degreasing the whole whale skeleton. .......................................................................................................

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Nature BRAIN & SENSES The brain of the sperm whale is the largest known of any modern or extinct animal. Its average weight is about eight kilograms. Like other toothed whales, sperm whales use echolocation to find food. The whale emits a focused beam of high-frequency clicks. The bulbous forehead (melon), the skull, and various air sacs in the whale’s head all play important roles in forming and focusing the beam of sound. The reflected and received sounds are transmitted to the inner ear.

of three to six years. Females reach sexual maturity at between 7 and 13 years, and males from about 18 years of age. Males reach their full size at about age 50.

Social behavior: Females stay in groups of around a dozen individuals with their young. Males leave these “nursery pods” at somewhere between 4 and 21 years of age and join a “bachelor pod” with other males of similar size and age. As the males grow older, they tend to disperse into smaller groups, with the oldest males typically living solitary lives. The most common non-human attacker of sperm whales is the Orca, or Killer Whale. Orcas target groups of females that have young, usually trying to extract and kill a calf. Female sperm whales repel these attacks by encircling their calves. Early whalers exploited this behavior, attracting a whole pod by injuring one of its members. Feeding: Sperm whales usually dive to between 300 and 800 metres, and sometimes one to two kilometers deep in search of food. Such dives can last for more than an hour. They feed on different species of squid including the giant squid, on octopuses and diverse fish like demersal rays. The sharp www.escalemaldives.com 45


Cultural importance: Rope-mounted teeth are important cultural objects throughout the Pacific. Whale ivory and bone have traditionally been taken from beached whales for carving decorative objects. Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is based on a true story about a sperm whale that attacked the whale ship Essex. Melville associated the sperm whale with the Bible’s Leviathan. The fearsome reputation perpetuated by Melville was based on bull whales’ ability to fiercely defend themselves from attacks by early whalers, occasionally resulting in the destruction of the whaling ships. Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea mentions cachalots (perhaps incorrectly) as preying on fellow whales.

beaks of consumed squid that become lodged in the whale’s intestine may lead to the production of ambergis.

Taxonomy: The sperm whale belongs

to the order Cetacea, the order containing all whales and dolphins. It is a member of the suborder Odontoceti, which includes all the toothed whales and dolphins. The sperm whale is one of the species originally described by Linnaeus in 1758 in his work Systema Naturae. In the family Physeteridae he recognized four species in the genus Physeter, but experts soon realized that there was only one such species. Most recent authors now accept Physeter macrocephalus as the valid name.

Historical hunting: Spermaceti, obtained primarily from the spermaceti organ, and sperm oil , obtained primarily from the blubber in the body, were much sought after by 16th to 20th century whalers . These substances found a variety of commercial applications, such as in the production of candles, soap, cosmetics, machine oil, other specialized lubricants, lamp oil, pencils, crayons, leather waterproofing, rustproofing materials and many pharmaceutical compounds. Ambergris, a solid, waxy, flammable substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, was also sought as a fixative in perfumery. After populations declined significantly, the International Whaling Commission gave the species full protection in 1985.

Current conservation status: The

number of sperm whales throughout the world is unknown, but it is thought to be between 0.9 and 1.5 million. The conservation outlook is brighter than for many other whales. The IUCN regards the sperm whale as being vulnerable. Currently, entanglement in fishing nets and collisions

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with ships represent the greatest threats to the sperm whale population. Other current threats include ingestion of marine debris, ocean noise, and chemical pollution.

Strandings: Every year a number of

animals beach themselves. Beached whales often die due to dehydration, the body collapsing under its own weight, or drowning when high tide covers the blowhole. Strandings can be grouped into several types with the most obvious distinction being between single and multiple strandings. Whales have beached throughout human history, therefore many strandings can be attributed to natural and environmental factors, such as rough weather, weakness due to old age or infection, difficulty giving birth, hunting too close to shore and navigation errors. A single stranded animal can prompt an entire pod to respond to its distress signals and strand alongside it. There is also evidence that active sonar leads to beaching, such as when whales have become stranded following the use of military sonar.

Watching sperm whales: Sperm whales are not the easiest of whales to watch, due to their long dive times and ability to travel long distances underwater. Sperm whale watchers often use hydrophones to listen to the clicks of the whales to locate them before they surface. Popular locations for sperm whale watching include picturesque Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island, where the continental shelf is so narrow that whales can be observed from the shore, Andenes and Tromsø in Arctic Norway, and in the Azores where they can be seen throughout the year. Dominica is believed to be the only Caribbean island with a yearround residential pod of females and calves.

......................................................................................... 6. The shape of the chest is completed by connecting all the ribs. ......................................................................................... 7. Final dental care at the lower jaw. ......................................................................................... 8. G. Behrmann is drilling holes in all bones of the spinal column for later installation. .........................................................................................


Dramatic transformation of the island of Hinnavaru in Lhaviyani Atoll seen from above.


Text and photos: Amooo

The islands of Maldives continuously undergo changes on a daily basis. Natural factors alter the island geography, but they are generally slow. Human-induced factors, on the other hand, change the geography of islands almost overnight - something that can be often seen in Maldives today. As developments kick off at full speed, the islands respond rapidly and some of them are currently undergoing rapid and massive geographical overhauls.


M

ale’, the capital of Maldives, is an interesting place. Perhaps it deserves the title of the “smallest capital” and the “most densely populated capital” in the world. The high density of Male’ could not have been accounted if this small island had not undergone so many geographical transformations over the past 90 years - so much that today it is a completely different island than it used to be. Historical records obtained in 1922 from the works undertaken by the famous historian H.C.P. Bell indicate that the size of the capital city Male’ was about 60% of what it is now. The present generation will never know what Male’ was like some 20 or even 30 years ago. Why has this tiny

island undergone so many geographical transformations over the years? Let’s go back to the basics first. The islands of Maldives are naturally designed to change their shape to suit the surrounding environmental conditions. Once an island is formed, it undergoes change almost on a daily basis. The forces of nature, most notably wind, tide and other weather phenomena and the geography of their reefs affect the islands in every way possible. The shoreline reacts to the changing environment, altering the shape of islands. This natural phenomenon is well known and such causes are rather slow and take time. Each island has a unique shape that is suited to its environment. The Number one natural cause

parts of the island away, accretion has the opposite effect: it accumulates sand in some parts of the island. Nevertheless, not even severe erosion and accretion would cause an island to change its shape to the extent of what Male’ has gone through. Male’ is a victim of reclamation. Before the reclamation of Male’, a small islet known as Kuda Male’ (which literally means small Male’), was situated in the same lagoon as Male’. Driven by the need to increase space for the ever increasing population, Kuda Male’ lost ground for today’s buildings that lay in rows where this tiny islet once was. Similar stories are common throughout the Maldives as the islands underwent and are continuously

“Strangely enough, these geographical alterations of islands have left very odd-shaped islands” that alters the shape of an island is seasonal erosion and accretion, caused by winds, waves and currents in combination with several other environmental factors. Erosion affects a given island differently. Chronic erosion will transform the geography of islands slowly, whereas severe weatherrelated erosion would bring more abrupt geographical changes. While erosion carries

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undergoing a geographical metamorphosis. If you get the opportunity to fly over the islands, you will come across many beautiful natural islands, reefs and sand banks. Depending on your flight route, you will also see a “new breed” of islands from above. Islands that are clearly distinguishable from natural islands by their odd shapes. For example, islands that used to be covered


Nature

1. Male’, the capital has taken a whole new shape just in fourty years. ........................................................................................ 2 & 3. Island harbours are a necessity, hence dredging the lagoon alters the natural shape of the island. ........................................................................................ 4. What used to be the seashore is now pushed to a few hundred meters in Kulhudhufushi. ........................................................................................ 5. One and only Reethi Rah has undergone a complete metamorphosis during its development as a resort. ........................................................................................

One and only Reethi Rah has undergone the most dramatic transformation in terms of shape and size. The shape of Male’ has been continuously changing during the last fourty years.

Did you know ? Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on Hulhule’ island used to be two separate islands; a small island called Gaadhoo Koli, located on the south of Hulhule’ island, was joined with Hulhule’ via reclamation to develop the first international airport of the country. Gaamaadhoo and Himmafushi were previously two islands. Today, Himmafushi is just one big island and it is home to one of the famous surf breaks in North Male’ Atoll. Villingili island in Gaafu Alif Atoll is now adjoined with the nearby island. Thinadhoo island in Gaafu Dhaalu was exapanded through reclamation and adjoined with the small island on the north. At present, Hinnavaru and Naifaru island are both nearly twice their original size, expanded through reclamation. Kulhudhufushi has been transformed from a kidney bean to an oval shape island. With the construction of the harbour, every island undergoes a change of shape.

in green vegetation may have a huge white area adjoined, creating a larger landmass. Sometimes, two islands that were separated by a lagoon may be joined by a mass of white sand, while small islands are suddenly made large. Some islands have even disappeared completely from the map, not because of sea level rise, but they are combined either with another island or many islands. Strangely enough, these geographical alterations of islands have left very odd-shaped islands. A sudden geographical change is brought about by what is known as reclamation. When entirely new islands are created in the lagoon, they become artificial islands. But when natural islands are expanded through reclamation, they become hybrids between natural and artificial islands. Reclamation is not a new term or concept; it has been undertaken for many years regardless of its infamous bad reputation. It has caused a boom in the tourism industry and a revolution to island geography by altering the shape, size and the potential of the islands forever. However, the economic and social advantages come at a price. For an ordinary person or a tourist visiting Maldives, reclamation may sound awkward or ridiculous. Why would a country with more than 1200 odd islands reclaim land for space? For environmental activists

and others alike, reclamation destroys the environment; most notably it affects the marine environment to a greater extent than any other development activities in the Maldives. In fact, reclamation is among the most environmentally damaging activities undertaken in Maldives. Even some unnecessary reclamation has been undertaken under the pretext of creating more space. Some of the very big islands have been reclaimed when there was ample space available - a direct effect of poor planning. However, despite all its negative impacts, Maldives would not be at the present level of development without reclamation. It has been undertaken in many parts of Maldives for various necessities: the development of harbours, industries, housing and population consolidation, just to mention a few. Sometimes, reclamation also happens as a spinoff effect from other projects. A good example is when harbours are created in inhabited islands. Harbour development is perhaps one of the most important infrastructures for an island because it is the bridge between the island and development. During harbour development projects, large volumes of sand are extracted from the sea bed and the excess sand is used to reclaim part of the lagoon, consequently transforming the geography of the island within as short as three to six months.

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Nature

Two or more islands becomes a single island For island lovers, this is a disaster as the natural beauty of islands is completely destroyed. This trend is most commonly seen in inhabited islands where demand for space drives the need to reclaim land and in desperate situations to join with the adjacent island. But it’s only possible when there is another island or islands close by. A few examples are Fares and Maathodaa island in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll, Male’ and Kuda Male’ in North Male’ Atoll, Gaamaadhoo and Himmafushi in North Male’ Atoll and Hulhule island and Gaadhoo Koli. Most recently, the island of Villingili in Gaafu Alif Atoll has been expanded and is now part of its nearby island. Some of these hybrid islands were created recently, whereas others date back many years. The recent ones still bear their marks and can be clearly visible today such as Fares and Maathodaa island where the reclaimed land in between the two islands is clearly visible. On the other hand, the combination of Male’ and Kuda Male’ occurred in the 70’s and it is impossible to see any remains of this change. Industrial Development Sometimes, industrial development requires more land space, making is necessary for even larger islands to go through a geographical change. A good example is Hithadhoo island in Seenu Atoll. It has been

connected with its neighbouring islands up to Gan, a former British naval and air base, via an asphalt road, which was the first in the Maldives. Facilities in the atoll capital now include a secondary school, a regional hospital, and fish processing industry, garment factories and a regional port to cater to the ocean going vessels. Hithadhoo also boasts good telecommunication facilities. Geographically altered islands do not necessarily have to be ugly or look unnatural. Soon after reclamation, landscaping can quickly hide their artificial marks with proper planning and timing. Some of the famous resorts in Maldives have undergone such geographical change and to the untrained eye, it is difficult to notice this because measures have been taken to blend in with the natural environment. So next time you step on one of the islands, keep in mind that it could be an island that may have undergone a major geographical metamorphosis.

.......................................................................................................... 6. In Kumburudhoo island, North Alif Atoll, two men relax under a solitary palm tree. This area was once the lagoon, but the development of a harbour changed the island’s coastline by adding more land. .......................................................................................................... 7. The tranformation of the natural island shore at Khulhudhuffushi in Haa Dhaalu Atoll is amazing as the lagoon was dredged and filled with sand. Notice the sea wall which was the western edge of the island. .......................................................................................................... 8. The old shoreline of Kulhudhufushi after the reclamation. The white sandy area use to be the lagoon. .......................................................................................................... 9. A local from the island of Thimarafushi in Thaa Atoll stop by on the newly reclaimed land, besides the uninhabited island, which can now be reached on foot. ..........................................................................................................

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A typical Maldivan forest. Photo by Amooo.


Nature

Text: Anke Hofmeister

A

s is the case with all oceanic islands, the animal life of the Maldives is not very rich in species. This is mainly due to the country’s distance from any significantly large land mass, from where most island animals originate, and to the islands’ small size, which offers a limited choice in habitat. Most animal species in the Maldives are thought to have their origins on the Indian subcontinent, from where they travelled via the Lakshadweep islands or with the northeast monsoons. Some species, especially those on the southern islands, may also have arrived from Africa with the southwest monsoons. Others were introduced by humans. Both natural and anthropogenic dispersal of land-based animals is a continuous process and still happens today; continental bird or invertebrate species are repeatedly recorded in the Maldives, especially during stormy weather and following the monsoons. The local island fauna has not been exhaustively studied so far; however, surprising species, behaviours or interconnections could still be

discovered in the future. The following paragraphs include some of the most commonly encountered vertebrate species on the islands but also the land crustaceans and arachnids. Insects, centipedes and millipedes are not featured in this article as they have not been studied well yet and hardly any publications on the Maldives’ terrestrial invertebrate life are available. For all animals portrayed, the scientific and common English names, as well as the order in which they are placed in the zoological system, are specified.

Mammals Indian Flying Fox

Bats of the genus Pteropus are the largest in the world. The Indian flying fox is one of two species with the greatest wingspan (up to 1.5 m). Commonly called flying foxes or fruit bats, Pteropus species live in the tropics

and subtropics of Australia, Africa and Asia including remote oceanic islands in both Indian and Pacific Oceans. The animals are both day and night active, becoming more conspicuous at dusk but usually roosting in trees during the midday heat. They have well-developed eyes and noses that enable them to easily locate their main food items: fruits, nectar, flowers and young leaves – a stark contrast to the feeding behaviour of the microbats, which use echolocation to find insects. The favourite fruits of Maldivian flying foxes include those of Banyan, Indian Almond as well as Ochrosia trees. Similar to other fruit bats, they therefore play an important role in the entire island

......................................................................................................... 1. Inquisitive flying fox with caretaker Anke Hofmeister. ......................................................................................................... 2. Juvenile flying fox sleeping, yawning, urinating and ready for exploring his world. ....................................................................................................... Photo Credits: Anke Hofmeister

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ecosystem by pollinating flowers and dispersing plant seeds. Female Indian Flying Foxes give birth to only one pup a year, which they take care of for approximately one year. Flying foxes are long-lived and survive for around 30 years. They are the only native land mammals in the Maldives.

Black Rat, House Mouse

For the sake of mammalian nearcompleteness, these common, yet often unwanted island inhabitants have been added here. Being species that are almost as opportunistic as humans, these rodents feed on a wide range of food and tolerate diverse living conditions. They have therefore been able to successfully inhabit new territories, including the Maldivian archipelago. All three species are good swimmers and climbers (ergo their alternative name Maldivian Tree Squirrels) and have a sharp sense of smell, which has helped them find new homes. Due to their competition with humans for food, their ability to transmit diseases and their generally negative image, rats and mice are unwelcome on most islands and exposed to continuous pest control measures.

Besides the above mentioned mammals, some islands harbour goats, cats, rabbits and shrews. While the latter insectivore is often included in pest control programmes, the former three have deliberately been introduced by humans. When feral they pose a potential threat to the delicate island ecosystem.

Birds Asian Koel

Considered by many to be the alarm clock of the jungle, the Asian Koel is a noisy bird which is more often heard than seen, making persistent and loud ku-oo ku-oo calls as well as other cackles and screams. The male has a

The grey heron is often seen patrolling our beaches for an easy feed on the tiny silversides or other fish that swim in dense schools in shallow lagoon waters. 56

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black plumage, a yellow-green bill and red eyes, while the female’s plumage is brownish above, whitish below and heavily striped and spotted. The Asian Koel belongs to the cuckoo order of birds. It is a brood parasite and lays its single egg into the nests of various birds, especially into those of house crows in the Maldives. Their diet mostly consists of fruits, but also insects.

Indian House Crow

The Indian House Crow has a widespread distribution in southern Asia and is associated with human settlements in all of its range. Being an omnivorous scavenger (as well as being a clever bird) has enabled it to


Nature Grey Heron Hot tip for TRAVELLERS

Always apply a good mosquito repellent when exploring an island.

The Grey Heron is the most common and apparent of the twelve heron, bittern and egret species recorded in the Maldives and easily identified by its grey plumage, large size and long neck. It is often seen patrolling our beaches for an easy feed on the tiny silversides or other fish that swim in dense schools in shallow lagoon waters. When approached too closely, it will move away; some herons, however, are already accustomed to busy beach life and tolerate respectful visitors. Its flight is slow, and the long neck is retracted into an ‘S’ shape. This bird breeds in colonies in trees and builds a bulky stick nest, which can sometimes be seen when looking down from higher platforms or trees. The call is a loud croaking chraik. Besides these commonly observed birds, more than 160 other species, mainly sea and shore birds, have been recorded in the Maldives. Not all of them are nesting on the islands; many are migratory or infrequent visitors; however, the keen bird-watcher can still tick off a good number of oceanic species on his/her to-see list, especially when out on a dhoni passing uninhabited islands and sandbanks. Some examples: White-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus) with their two remarkably long tail feathers; Lesser and Great Frigatebirds (Fregata ariel and F. minor) with their forked tails flying high up in the sky in localised areas; Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) often visiting inhabited islands at night; Black-naped terns

multiply and thrive in various environments from small villages to large cities. It mainly feeds on human scraps, but also on small reptiles, insects, eggs, grains and fruits. The nests of these birds are often parasitised by the Asian Koel. The plumage of the Indian House Crow is generally glossy black, with only the neck and breast being a lighter greybrown in colour. The voice is a harsh caaa caaa.

White-breasted Waterhen

The secretive White-breasted Waterhen is usually heard before it is seen. It is a noisy bird, especially at dawn and dusk, with a loud ruak ruak call. This rail species can

often be observed out in the open; when disturbed, though, it will quickly run into the dense undergrowth of the jungle for protection. It does not fly very much and prefers habitats with thick vegetation near water. The waterhen feeds primarily on aquatic or marine insects and weeds and tends to become very active during the rainy weather. Its large feet enable it to walk in swamps, on aquatic plants and through mud. Its other distinguishing features are the white breast and reddish-brown tail feathers, the dark back and the yellow bill and legs. The chicks are black and fluffy and follow the mother hen for a few weeks before they are independent.

...................................................................................... 3. A White-tailed tropicbird raises a chick in the undergrowth of an undisturbed forest. ...................................................................................... 4. The beautiful coloration of this male variable lizard indicates its readiness to compete or mate. ...................................................................................... 5. This type of habitat mainly composed of coconut palms is also where many life forms dwell. ...................................................................................... 6. Brown noddies commonly roost on sandbanks. ...................................................................................... 7. Perfect foraging ground for a Grey Heron: the reef flat at low tide. ...................................................................................... 8.Picking pretty shells from beaches often means that land hermit crabs have difficulties finding suitable and big enough homes. It is therefore a bad practice. ...................................................................................... Photo Credits: Anke Hofmeister except photo no. 5 by Amooo.

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(Sterna sumatrana), Greater Crested Terns (Thalasseus bergii) and Brown Noddies (Anous stolidus) resting on many sandbanks; Common Sandpipers (Actitis hypoleucos) busily foraging along beaches; as well as domesticated chicken, which provide meat and eggs to islanders. Exotic species such as budgerigars, cockatoos and parakeets imported as pets are a growing cause for concern as some escape and establish wild populations, especially around Male’, potentially displacing native ones.

Reptiles and Amphibians Variable Lizard, Common Garden Lizard, Crested Tree Lizard

This agamid lizard with numerous common English names occurs throughout South and Southeast Asia, including many Maldivian islands, and is regularly found among the undergrowth in open habitats as well as highly urban areas. It is normally dull brown or grey with speckles and bands, but can also be seen in other colours, depending on their gender and mood. Males become highly territorial when in breeding season and try to discourage competitors with reddened heads and push-ups, while at the same time

“The waterhen feeds primarily on aquatic or marine insects and weeds and tends to become very active during the rainy weather”

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attracting females. As opposed to other lizards, this species does not drop its long tail when in danger. It mainly feeds on insects and small vertebrates and serves as prey itself for snakes and birds.

Common House Gecko

The common house gecko is native to southeastern Asia and northern Africa but has been introduced to tropical and subtropical regions all over the world. It is active at twilight and at night and can be seen climbing the walls of houses and other buildings in search of insects attracted to porch lights. Having a gecko inside one’s home is a great help in reducing unwanted insects such as mosquitoes and flies. The gecko’s skin colour is variable, but most often appears mottled dark brown to pale brown and sometimes even transparent. The tail possesses tiny spikes on either side and detaches easily when the animal is in danger. This reptile species is very vocal and makes loud chuck-chuck-chuck calls to mark its territory and communicate with other individuals.

Common Wolf Snake

This small, non-venomous snake catches its prey (lizards and mice) by ambushing and overpowering it. It is usually nocturnal, hiding in burrows or amidst the jungle vegetation during the day. The colouration of the common wolf snake is variable, but most animals are brownish-grey with white cross bars on the back. The species belongs to the most common snakes in Southern Asia.

Snake Skink, Dotted Garden Skink, Spotted Supple Skink

In areas with dense leaf cover or decaying vegetation, with luck this small, swift skink can be detected. Juveniles have a pinkcoloured tail that provides protection as it easily gains the attention of a predator and detaches. Adults are dark and have a more spotty appearance. Additional reptiles and amphibians recorded for the Maldives include another snake species (Ramphotyphlops braminus) as well as the toad Bufo melanostictus. The presence of the frog Rana breviceps mentioned in some documents on the internet could not yet be verified.


Nature Arachnids Common House Scorpion, Lesser Brown Scorpion

So far only this one species of scorpions has been found on Maldivian islands. It is cosmopolitan and belongs to a family that contains poisonous species, which can be dangerous to humans. However, the flat brown house scorpion is very secretive and avoids confrontations, and a sting is said to be similar to a bee’s sting. Males are larger than females; juveniles are carried around on the female’s back.

Huntsman Spider, Giant Spider Crab

The Huntsman Spider is found in many tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Although rather large and fearsome in appearance (with a diameter of up to 12 cm), it is very easily alarmed by the approach of humans and will rapidly flee. The spider is a nocturnal hunter with exceptional agility and speed; it is not dangerous, however, and does not spin webs. Other spiders recorded in the Maldives

are the signature spider argiope anasuja, a beautiful orb-weaving spider that produces four stabilising zig-zag stripes in its web, as well as Tetragnatha foveata, which is common in southern Asia, amongst possibly many other smaller species.

Malacostracans: Land Hermit Crab

All land hermit crabs found along our beaches or amongst rich vegetation have adapted to a life outside the sea. As opposed to their close relatives in the reef, they do not breathe through gills but through wrinkled, thin skin at the tip of their soft hind body. This adaptation, however, prevents them from surviving in seawater; only the females return to the sea during the reproductive season to release their larvae. Because of the risk of dehydration, terrestrial hermit crabs inhabit only humid, tropical regions, are mostly night-active and cover their abdomen with a snail shell. The latter is also an adaptation to reduce predation. As hermit crabs grow, they must exchange their shell for a larger one. Since shells are not an unlimited resource, there is frequently strong

“The common House Gecko is native to southeastern Asia”

...................................................................................... 9. White terns especially common in Addu Atoll. ...................................................................................... 10. The crow is an indespensible animanl among the natural fauna of Maldives. ...................................................................................... 11. These birds live among colonies and are often sighted at sandbanks in large numbers. ...................................................................................... 12 A common wolf snake has found a shelter in a Banyan Tree stump. ...................................................................................... Photo Credits: Anke Hofmeister except photo nos. 9, 10, by Amooo.

A Short Account of Flying Fox Adoptions After reaching sexual maturity at two years of age and a rather long gestation period of at least six months, Indian flying foxes give birth to single pups from May to July. Parturition seems to coincide with the average onset of the rainy season in the Maldives. The little youngsters tightly hold on to their mums, as the latter search for food in the trees, and get carried around until they become too heavy, at about one month of age. From that time onwards the females start leaving their offspring in the roosts for increasingly longer time periods but regularly return to feed the pups with milk, to toilet and to caress them. Over time I have noticed that juveniles, which sometimes hang motherless in the trees, often get harassed by crows that peck at them and scare them so much that the little bats eventually let go of their secure grip and fall off the tree. This indeed could be one of the main reasons, along with stormy weather and careless play, why so many flying fox pups get separated from their mothers and why little “orphaned” bats were regularly found on the resort island I worked on in past summers. In the 2010 season alone I rescued four juveniles and reunited them with their mums by giving them a little milk boost for the night and by hanging them back up on higher branches. However, not all “grounded” babies could easily and immediately be handed back to Mother Nature. Some of them needed some assistance – and this has resulted in very interesting adoptions! Almost every summer I had a bat to care for, which was a wonderful learning experience each time. In Australia, rehabilitation centres for injured and orphaned flying foxes have gathered much experience in raising young bats, as every year they are found in the hundreds. Through my contact with their staff, I learned a lot about how to handle the little ones and how to provide for them. Just like other mammalian babies, what they mainly need is warmth, milk and

tender care. Unless they can fly, which they only start at an age of three to four months, flying foxes have no access to fruits (their regular diet during adult life) and only their mother’s milk available. I had to make do with full cow’s milk, which I later on diluted with a bit of mango or guava juice to make it tastier for the choosy fruit-eaters. I fed the little ones with a syringe every three to four hours and increased the rations every day. In between they received soft pieces of banana, papaya or melon, which they chewed on to extract the juice. The pulp was spat out. When the second set of sharp teeth became stronger, they also liked scraping off pieces of apple and seriously working through chunks of other fruits. I always stimulated good digestion by rubbing the animals’ belly and was eventually treated with a bat that turned upside down, hanging on its thumbs, to urinate and defecate on the ground. During the day my little flying foxes had their quiet times when I could just hang them from my shoulder or onto some branches to sleep; however, they could also put on a real show when completely content, scurrying about, flapping their wings to train their flight muscles, exploring their world a little bit more every day, and patiently allowing me to explain bat biology and anatomy to inquisitive guests, for who these little flying foxes were a true highlight of their vacation. I usually took my furry little friends as curious “co-pilots” with me on my bicycle; they slept on my shoulder while I was sitting on the computer, and when I was busy with other things, I left them hanging on some branches. A “pet” very easy to handle! During the night the little foxes slept on a coat hanger or towel in my bathroom, nicely wrapped up in their wings with their heads tucked under. As they grew older, however, I kept them outside more regularly, so that they could become more independent and familiar with real jungle life, including all its smells and sounds and shadows.

The reddish tail in this swift juvenile snake skink is an adaptation to avoid predation.

The re-introduction into the wild, however, has never been an easy process, especially for bats raised without the company of others, and requires the caretaker’s full attention. When my last three bats were about 4 months old, they had already learned to confidently fly, spent the night on their own and kept coming back to my room for food in the morning. The intervals when they showed up, however, grew longer, and one day they just didn’t return anymore and seemed to have disappeared. I hoped that they had somehow learned to find food, shelter and warmth on their own but unfortunately could never find out for certain. Nonetheless, I have provided as good a start into a (literally) fruitful flying fox life as possible and look forward to hearing about your experiences with “orphaned” bats!

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Iruvai hudhu (Cattle Egret), Photo by Riya.

competition for available shells. Land hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers and feed on all types of dead organic matter. The two most common species on our beaches are C. rugosus and C. perlatus. Coconut crabs (Birgus latro), the largest hermit crabs and even terrestrial arthropods in the world, are also native in the Maldives but nowadays are only found on few islands of the archipelago.

Ghost Crab

These crabs are called “ghosts� because of their ability to rapidly disappear from sight when disturbed, scuttling at high speeds along the beach making sharp directional changes. Ghost crabs live in deep, cool and moist burrows during the day to avoid both heat and predation. At night, they can be seen

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feeding on animal and plant debris such as plankton and carrion washed ashore by the tides. The most conspicuous species found is O. ceratophthalma with its stalked eyes. It is the largest of all tropical ghost crabs, which can also be easily identified by their squareshaped carapace.

Swift-footed Rock Crab

This crab species inhabits beach rock, rock walls, boat ramps and jetties across the IndoPacific region but is not easily approachable. Its identification, however, is made easy due to the multitude of colours and the fine, greenish lines on the carapace. Male rock crabs usually have much larger claws than females, but both sexes can re-grow them once lost. The species feeds on algae and

detritus in the intertidal zone but also preys on small invertebrates.

Purple Rock Crab

The Purple Rock Crab can easily be identified by its rather large size and the black patch on its carapace. Like other terrestrial crabs, it is sensitive to heat and drought. In order to avoid evaporation and dehydration it seeks shelter in deep burrows or under rocks and roots and is mostly night-active. It can be found inland on sandy soil and is very common in the Indo-Pacific region. The diet of this carnivorous species consists of other invertebrates but also carrion.


Y our drea m wedding at Maldives.

www.facebook.com/ElMomentoMaldives www.twitter.com/elmomentoinfo Ma.Rangiri Rahdhebai Magu Tel: +960 3008996 . Hotline: +960 7632091 email: info@elmomento.biz www.elmomento.biz


Text and photos: Anke Hofmeister

H

alf an hour after sunset, when a soft orange belt above the horizon is all that remains of the day’s tropical colours, the formerly turquoise sea stretches out before us like a smooth dark blanket. The waves’ ripple on the beach and the bats’ chatter in the trees are the only sounds to be heard. Another day on a Maldivian island slowly draws to a close and prepares for the night – for us, though, the perfect time to start an adventure: Exploring the coral reef’s nightlife! Naturally, the thought of entering rather unknown terrain, especially in the dark, causes slight discomfort in most. Equipped with strong underwater torches, safetybriefed and reassured that no monsters will emerge from the depths, however, our small group of snorkelers more or less confidently slips into the warm water and makes its way from the shallows to the reef drop-off. Once accustomed to the light conditions, we see a whole new world! Bright-orange coral polyps stretch out their tentacles in search of food; large red hermit crabs scurry about trying to avoid being seen; sleepy surgeon- and parrotfish have already found their shelter

and hide in cre-vices, while moray eels of rarely-seen species start their nocturnal hunt; even two cuttlefish flirting with each other, as well as a black stingray munching on snails, appear in the beam of our torches. One of the most unusual experiences for us, however, is the sheer abundance and variety of creatures drifting past us in the open water: plankton. Many are jelly-like and transparent; some are reddish and sting; millions are tiny and can glow; others are worm-like and get stuck between our swimsuit layers. They are as strange as they are fascinating – yet what actually are planktonic organisms, and why are there so many at night? The pelagic (open-sea) environment supports two basic types of marine organisms. As opposed to the nekton - animals that freely swim in the water regardless of the current direction (e.g. squid, fish, whales) - planktonic organisms are passive drifters. Their transport is largely determined by the currents, although many of them have appendages that enable them to move around on a small scale (e.g. jellies, copepods, invertebrate larvae).


Plankton can be classified in several ways. Depending upon whether a planktonic organism is a plant, an animal or a bacterium, a distinction is made between phytoplankton, zooplankton and bacterioplankton. As life origi-nated in the sea, it is not surprising that most animal phyla are represented in the plankton, at least during parts of their life. Temporary residents of the plankton community are termed meroplankton and include fish eggs and fry as well as the larval stages of bottom-dwelling invertebrates such as corals, barnacles, clams and sea stars. A wide distribution of sessile or less mobile animals is thereby guaranteed. Organisms belonging to the holoplankton, on the other hand, spend their entire life cycles in the open sea. It is also often convenient to characterise planktonic creatures according to their size; femtoplankton, for example, encompasses viruses and bacteria, microplankton tiny algae and unicellular animals, and megaplankton large drifters such as colonial jellies. Although many planktonic species are of microscopic dimensions, the term is not synonymous with small size, as some of the zooplankton includes jellies of several metres in diameter! All members of the plankton fulfil significant roles in marine food webs. Phytoplankton is the dominant primary producer of the pelagic realm and converts large amounts of carbon dioxide and nutrients into organic compounds by the process of photosynthesis. This biomass is readily available for herbivorous zooplankton, but also for fish and once settled on the sea floor, for benthic animals. Zooplankton also comprises primary and secondary carnivores as well as omnivores, which consume both plant and animal matter. Predator-prey relationships and, consequently, elaborate adaptations to avoid being eaten have evolved amongst planktonic organisms. Detritus feeders in the water column close the food cycle by converting dead organic material into freely available nutrients. Plankton, however, is not disconnected from other marine ecosystems but plays an important role in marine nutrient and energy flows. Especially the most numerous of all zooplankton creatures, millimetre sized copepods belonging to the crustaceans, are the main food source for filter-feeding animals such as jellies, clams, manta rays and baleen whales but also for commercially important fish species.


Organisms of many species move towards the surface at night and descend to deeper and darker waters during the day most probably as a strategy to secure abundant food at night and to avoid visual predators at daytime. This is the reason why we often encounter so much plankton during our night snorkels and dives and subsequently so many plankton feeding species including coral and anemone polyps, feather stars and squids, which are more active at night than during the day!

One of the most characteristic behavioural patterns of plankton is a vertical migration that occurs within a 24-hour cycle.

Our nocturnal observations reveal other typical traits of planktonic organisms. Considering that the large open sea provides hardly any hiding opportunities, transparency seems to offer the best protection from predation. Beautiful glossy jellyfish, comb jellies and colonial salps drift past us and stretch out their tentacles in search of small food items. Moving through deeper water, we notice thousands of bright sparks, which belong to tiny bioluminescent crustaceans that have found another way of avoiding predators (see box). At a large old coral block, we get literally swamped by an

Bioluminescence: Communication amongst Marine Organisms During many nights of the year, bright-blue spots can be seen on Maldivian beaches, lighting up when the waves hit the sand and fading after a few seconds. Sometimes entire beach sections are aglow with millions of tiny lights that seem to brighten up even more when touched or walked on, leaving people to wonder what causes this magical phenomenon. The bluish light that we notice is called bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is common in marine vertebrates (e.g. anglerfish and flashlight fish) and invertebrates, as well as in microorganisms (e.g. causing “milky seas�) and terrestrial animals (e.g. fireflies and glow worms). Symbiotic bacteria carried within larger organisms are also known to bioluminesce. It can be expected anytime and in any region or depth in the sea but is most common in the deep ocean and amongst plankton. Bioluminescence occurs when energy is released by a chemical reaction in the form of cold light. The chemical reaction is stimulated through oxygen (or mechanical movement) and a certain enzyme, luciferase. Most marine light emission belongs in the blue and green light spectrum, the wavelengths that can transmit through seawater most easily. Most bioluminescent animals produce the light on their own; however, there are also many animals such as deep sea fish that carry light-producing bacteria in special light organs. The bioluminescence on Maldivian beaches is mainly caused by microscopic benthic crustaceans, Ostracoda or mussel shrimps. They are about 1 mm in length, flattened from side to side and protected by a bivalve-like cal-careous shell. At night, the ostracods rise from the sandy sea floor, where they spend the day, and feed on plank-tonic algae. When the animals get disturbed, either through predators or the movement of waves, a light-emitting substance is ejected that deters predators. It is this light that makes our beaches glow.

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uncountable number of bright-red polychaete worms that have gathered near the surface to reproduce and now confuse our lights with the moon! Nonetheless, they seem prepared for the struggle for survival: Their red colour is quickly absorbed by the water and makes the worms appear grey, and their sheer number overwhelms not only us but also potential predators. Furthermore, all species of plankton have been forced to develop structural adaptations to be able to float in the water column. These adaptations include flat bodies (e.g. isopods), long antennae and other projections (e.g. copepods), oil droplets and gel like substances (e.g. jellyfish and comb jellies), as well as floats filled with gas (e.g. hydrozoans at the surface). One hour and fascinating encounters with marine night-crawlers later, we are ready for a hot shower and leave the reef. As we find our way back to the shore, there seem to be as many stars on the beach as there are in the sky – bioluminescent plankton lights up our footprints in the sand. Simple pleasures are sometimes so easy to find!


Nature

There are five main accepted theories for the evolution of bioluminescent traits: 1) Repulsion: Certain squid and small crustaceans (such as our ostracods) use bioluminescent chemical mixtures or bioluminescent bacterial slurries in the same way as many squid use ink. A cloud of luminescence is expelled, confusing or repelling a potential predator while the squid or crustacean escapes to safety. 2) Communication; 3) Illumination; 4) Counter-illumination to avoid predators; 5) Attraction of prey or mates.

................................................................................................ 1, 2 & 4. In late 2010, millions of pink jellies were found on beaches and reef areas. These aggregations are most probably a result of reproductive bursts mixed with currents that carry them from the pelagic realm to inshore waters. ................................................................................................ 3. An enlarged photo of single biolumnescent animal. ................................................................................................ 5. During several days a year, particularly striking wash-ups of bioluminescent animals occur on Maldivian beaches. In this case, millimetre-sized ostracods illuminate the sand when moved by the water or touched by amazed people. ................................................................................................

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Text: Ahmed Jameel (AJ)

Blue sky and a hot day in Maafushi Island, North Male’ Atoll. Photo by Amooo.


Nature For those of you who are from countries experiencing winter, summer, spring and autumn, the title of this article will definitely be intriguing. Whether you believe it or not, Maldives has four seasons, yes FOUR SEASONS. Hot Tip for TRAVELLERS

The best time for aerial photography is between April to December.

Children fishing on a sunny day.

B

ut don’t despair, because if you have come to Maldives for a tropical holiday, one thing for sure is that winter is the last thing you will experience in Maldives. The four seasons of the Maldives are very different from winter, spring, summer and autumn, the most commonly known seasons most people are familiar with. In the Maldives, there is no official classification of weather into seasons. However, we have two distinct periods throughout the year, which we call seasons. Traditionally most people classify the Maldivian weather as northeast monsoon (Iruvai), southwest monsoon (Hulhagu) and the two periods between these two monsoons. Hence Maldives has no exceptions. Four different seasons defines life in these islands. Out of the four seasons, two are distinct in terms of direction of the wind and other two

with variable direction of the wind. The first is the Northeast monsoon which extends from January to March. This is the dry period of the year. Some refer to this period as the Maldivian Summer. Coincidently, this period being the winter in Europe is also the peak tourist season in Maldives for Europeans. Then there is the hot season, which is from April to May where the seasons are in transition from northeast monsoon to southwest monsoon. The reason why it is referred as “The hot season” is that this is the time when the temperatures are highest in comparison from January to March. As we move towards June, it’s time for the season to change. June marks the beginning of the southwest monsoon and the period between June to October is the wettest period of the year which brings light rain. Hence, the Southwest monsoon is between June to

October. The period which follows the south west monsoon is the transition period which is from November to December.

The mostly sunny weather of Maldives is ideal to indulge in water sports.

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The Maldivian summer Locally known as Iruvai Moosun, it is similar to summer in every corner of the world. The Maldivian Summer brings joy to people’s heart. This is a period of clear skies, low humidity, very little rain and a lot of sun. This is the most preferred time to visit the Maldives to enjoy the sea, beach and sun. The light breeze which blows from the east makes the weather cooler, conjuring up the perfect tropical weather. The summer runs from January to March when the direction of the wind blows from the east. It is not possible to define the exact date of the arrival of the summer or the north east monsoon and different people use different indicators to mark its beginning. For fisherman, the change in wind direction to east marks the beginning of the summer, for the children it’s the arrival of the dragonflies and for the photographer its simply colourful sunsets every day. Seasonal changes influence everything and everybody including our beautiful islands. It affects daily life, recreational activities, farming, fishing and the environment among many other things. One of the most dramatic effects of the seasonal change is how it influences nature. The white sandy beaches around the islands are shaped by the seasons and with the arrival of Maldivian summer, the beach starts to move. In general, during Iruvai Moosun (Maldivian Summer), the

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Nature

island would have the beach on the western side of the island. Interestingly, if the island has a sand pit (thudi), then it would be pointing towards the west in the direction of the sun set. Notice this next time you are on an island. Another seasonal dependence occurs during the annual school holidays where families travel to other islands. But then around fourty years ago, the mode of travel was by sail dhonis. The direction of the wind was important and consequently their lives were planned around the seasons. Easterly winds allowed them to travel from north to south, especially to Huvadhu Atoll and Addu City, the southernmost atolls in the archipelagic chain. Tuna fisheries in Maldives is the second largest income generating activity which is also seasonal. Little has changed in the methods except with the mechanization of dhonis. It is based on dolphin friendly methods using pole and line fishing. Before

the fishermen go out to open sea, they catch bait fish from the shallow reefs. Schools of tuna are mostly seen in the waters of Maldives during north east monsoon or Iruvai Moosun when the sea surface temperature and other conditions are optimum for them and the sight of birds concentrating over one area of the sea is a sign of fish around. Judging by these, the fisherman take off on their fishing journeys. This has been the practice for centuries.

................................................................................................ 1. The rainy season brings usually less heavier showers than real monsoons.

................................................................................................ 2. Sea birds are often sighted in colonies on sandbanks.

................................................................................................ 3. The visibitliy of the reef is very high during most part of the year.

................................................................................................ 4. Mango is also a seasonal fruit in Maldives. Many like it green as well.

................................................................................................ Photo Credits: All photos by Amooo except Photo 4, Photo 4 by Riya.

As summer is associated with sun, sea and beach, it also has a dramatic effect on recreational diving. From November, the currents flow from the northeast bringing lots of action in the channels and shallow reefs on the eastern side of the atolls. Currents tend to be stronger in January and then ease as we move into February. From February, the waters calm down and the surface of the sea is undisturbed by any major wind or wave action. The visibility of water increases creating ideal diving conditions. Throughout the Maldivian Summer, pelagic species such

Hanifaru bay in Baa Atoll is the most famous area for watching Whalesharks and Mantas, the best time being the south west monsoon. Papaya is widely grown in home backyards throughout the Maldives.

Quick TIPS / Things you didnt know about seasons in Maldives ! MALDIVIAN SEASONS

Northeast (Iruvai) monsoon

Hot period

Southwest (Hulhangu) Monsoon

Transition period

SEASONAL MONTHS

January to March

April to May

June to October

November to December

J

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

F

Summer

M

A

M

Autumn

J

J

A

Winter

S

O

N

D

Spring

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as shark and jacks are found in the channels, mostly on the eastern side of the atoll. Manta rays and whale sharks, however, will only be found on the west side during the northeast season. Most divers rely heavily on the season to take advantage of their holidays to Maldives and some will plan their diving holidays based on what they want to see by matching the best time of the year to do so. The list of things and activities that are dependent on seasons are endless. One notable aspect is how locals grow fruits in their backyards, which are seasonal. Hence, the fruits you find in the markets follow seasonal patterns. For example Maldivian Mango is a seasonal fruit. Maldivian mango season arrives twice a year and flourishes at the end of the Maldivian summer months, around March. Mango is not only a delicious fruit, but it is also a cash fruit. The Hot Season As Maldivian summer draws to an end, the direction of wind changes from east to west. The amount of rainfall decreases. This creates ideal tropical conditions to enjoy the beach and the outdoors. This is the time of the year that photographers wait to take aerial photos of the islands. The blue skies at this time of the year give vivid blue colours. Most of the island’s aerial photos that you may find in travel brochures are mostly taken in this period of the year. During this period, due to the change in the direction of the wind, the beaches of the islands would be starting to shift from western side to eastern side. Maldivian Winter or Hulhagu Moosun (southwest monsoon) The Maldivian winter arrives with the change of wind from the west, bringing some rain. This is the period with the highest average monthly rainfall. Some call this period the wet season, while others call it the south west monsoon. But it is not like a real monsoon with endless days of rain that continue from

The beaches move with the season. Around April and November, their movement is most dynamic as these are the transition period. During most part of the Maldivian summer, you will find beaches on the western side, facing the sunset.

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May until October. It’s more likely to be 30 minutes one day, a couple of hours on another day and at worst on and off rain for a couple of days. What’s even better is that even then, the sun will break the rainy clouds bringing in sunny periods for few hours. This is also a peak season to dive in the Maldives and this could be a getaway from the cold winter period. While during the wet season, despite the rain and tropical storms and choppy seas at times, diving can be done on both sides of the atoll. The diving on the west side of the atolls in the southwest season is said to be spectacular. Large schools of pelagic fish like sharks, eagle rays and tuna can be easily seen during this period. Divers would encounter grey reef sharks and hammerheads in larger numbers and in shallower water at this time of year. This is the season to see manta rays and whale sharks on eastern side of atoll. Hanifaru reef in Baa Atoll, is one of the best places to see manta rays and whale sharks, especially during the south west monsoon. The peak season is from July to September but June should also provide some good manta sightings.


Nature One of the most commonly asked question by a lot of honeymooners, divers, snorkelers and visitors to Maldives is “what’s the best time to visit”? DM: Throughout the year. Whenever you feel is the best time to visit Maldives, go for it and enjoy your holiday, after all, warm tropical rain in the Maldives is not the same as cold hard rains in big cities.

The visibility drops in this season but diving becomes interesting due to huge plankton feeders in these seasons.

of Male’ and elsewhere are flooded with papayas during this time.

Similarly, the Maldivian surfing season is from April to October. A great variety of reef breaks exist ranging in intensity from quite mellow shreddable walls to gnarlier hollow pits. There is something for everyone. Bigger swells are likely to occur in June-September. During these months, the conditions are predominantly off-shore all day due to the winds from west and the swell generated from the south. During the south west monsoon, surfers from all over the world come to Maldives to experience the many reef breaks that consistently provide ideal surf waves for the ultimate thrill seeker.

Transition Period

While the Maldivian winter is good news for divers and surfers, it is not so good for the fisheries industry. This period, being the low fishing season, the fish catch is lowest during end of May to July. But for tropical fruit lovers, papayas are in their peak season from June until September. They are usually harvested while still green and are left to ripen within one to two weeks. The markets

The shift from the wet southwest monsoon to the dry northeast monsoon in Maldives occurs during November. This transition period is characterised by light and variable winds with the presence of land and sea breezes. The northeast winds contribute to the formation of the northeast monsoon. A major change occurs in the islands during this period, responding to the shift in winds from west to east. The beach on the eastern side of the islands begins to move towards its western side and once again the delightfully flavoured mangoes become abundant in the market in this period as this gives a second mango season in the Maldives. The four seasons of Maldives are closely woven into the livelihood of the locals and define their lifestyles throughout the year. Indeed, one may wonder what more could there be apart from either rain or the sun in

this tropical island chain. The picture of the four seasons only comes into life through these interwoven rainy and sunny periods during which the country thrives throughout the year.

................................................................................................ 5. Colours of sunrise on a clear weather. ................................................................................................ 6. Beach beds on a resort island. The sunny weather is especially enjoyed by visitors from the Northern hemisphere during their winter. ................................................................................................ 7. Windsurfing is a sport found in almost all the resorts. ................................................................................................ 8. The shifting of beach is strongly linked to the weather pattern as wind and waves change during seasons. ................................................................................................ 9. Welll water is still used in some islands but the quality of it largely depends on the seasonal rainfall. ................................................................................................ 10. Large rainwater collection tanks provide water reserves for many months. ................................................................................................ Photo Credits: All photos by Amooo except Photo 7&8, Photo 7&8 by Riya.

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Maldivian Laid Back Music A decade ago, a band named Out of Doors came to be. Their vision was to embody a unique, relaxing style of music to better represent the aura of the Maldive Islands. The band consisted of an acoustic guitarist, Ahmed Ashraf Rasheed(Akke), a bongo player, Abdul Rasheed Ali (Abcy) and an electric bassist Ali Hisan (Ayya). The band believed that this combination of instruments will be more effective in accentuating the Maldive experience. All members of the band sang in addition to playing their instrument. This led to the band offering a wide range of music in their repertoire. The band was the first in the country to play music with a bongo in the front line. The lead artist of their band: Abdul Rasheed Ali better known as 'Lavakiyaa Abcy' with a singing experience of a solid two decades, wished to make this type of music appeal to young aspiring musicians as he firmly believed that the future of Maldivian music was in the hands of these young Maldivians.

Out of Doors' first regular gig in Male' was at the Saturday night buffet at Trends; Nasandhura. The band played several Dhivehi cover songs with minor modifications in order to suit the band's idea of a relaxing style of music. Initially, the band's music did not appeal to most locals. However over time, people started to take an interest in these modified Dhivehi songs and the local audience started to understand the concept of music they were implementing. The band's aim was to include

Out of Doors

as many Dhivehi songs in their repertoire as possible. As a result by the year 2003, Out of Doors was much

Out of Doors

in demand for local weddings and functions proving that a Maldivian audience does not expect Western

M a l d i v e s

Ayya

music as was previously believed

Abcy

Akke


The band also started to perform in various resorts infrequently with the hope that one day, this style of music would prevail among tourists as well. With the encouragement of resort executives, Out of Doors started playing more Maldivian songs, when performing in the resorts. As was later apparent, this type of local relaxing music was what most tourists expect from a local band when visiting the Maldives. With in a few years, Out of Doors was able to transform their entire resort shows to comprise wholly of local songs. In the year 2004, Out of Doors started to compile an album as the tourists who listened to their music, kept requesting for a musical memento to remember the Maldives by. The process was slow and challenging, yet after six years the album was ready to be released under the name Eyzamaanaa. Abcy's mission was to finish the album with the ideas of the fresh, young talents; Akke and Ayya. The afore mentioned album title Eyzamaanaa is the name of one of the ten classic remakes that make up this album. Due to popular demand, an English version of Eyzamaanaa (translated as Bittersweet memories) as well as a remix titled 'Beach Beat' (mixed by DJ Vfaq) was included in the album as bonus tracks. Track 10 played by Abcy, Ishaaq and Abdhulla (Dhebo),Tracks 2 and 5, were sung by Abcy's kids, Luba and Lujy respectively with the remaining songs by Abcy himself.

Luji

Luba

Out of Doors M a l d i v e s

On June 23rd 2010, Eyzamaanaa the album was officially released. Available at duty free shops in Male' International Airport, the album remains a unique and popular souvenir. It is also available on iTunes under the name, 'Out of Doors, Maldives'. Out of Doors celebrates it's tenth year on December 22nd 2011.

Now Available on iTunes


Text and photos: Amooo

A fisherman takes a break on one of the cages. Seen below is a freshly arrived grouper taking time to acclimatize to her new environment.

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Features For centuries, Maldivians relied on livebait tuna pole and line fishing for food and for employment. Over the years, Maldivian fishermen have evolved from tuna fishing to reef fisheries using various methods and today reef fisheries are widely practiced. Grouper fisheries are a type of reef fisheries that began not so long ago. It is not only big business for the fisherman, but it has transformed their daily life dramatically. Someone dining in a restaurant will never know the origin of their meal, where it came from and its journey. But this new breed of fisherman goes to great lengths in order to bring their product to the dinner table. For them, it’s not only a business, but a way of life.

The centre of operations. The system of floating cages with the living quarters.

F

or regular tuna fisherman, their daily life revolves around the schools of tuna in the open sea for which they embark on a daily mission on a traditional fishing vessel. Tuna fishing is a tough job and fisherman sometimes spent several days on the ocean before returning home to their families. This lengthy stay at sea however came only recently with the introduction of large fishing vessels with cold storage capabilities. Until then, fisherman went to sea to catch fish and return on a daily basis. In recent years, as the economy expanded, fishing practices expanded and locals started exploiting other fishing resources. As Maldives got exposed to the outside world, so did the fisheries industry and the need to expand fishing practices were realized. Today,

some fisherman have given up tuna fishing and reverted to other types of fisheries and the grouper fishery is one area where people have started to explore and invest in. Although reef fishing was practiced in the Maldives, commercially it was not practiced until the mid 1990’s. Targeted fishing for groupers in the Maldives started in 1994 and peaked in 1997. But the commercial scale grouper fishery is more than just catching fish and selling them to the local market. Most grouper fisherman mainly target their product to the international market and hence it involves a myriad of other resources such as infrastructure, good coordination and team work to ensure that when you order your next meal, it is always available. Grouper is one of the most expensive fish in the market

today and is valued because of its texture and taste as well as its great potential in the aquaculture market. Today the grouper fishery is an extremely important economic activity for many people in Maldives, not just for the local supply, but it has had enormous potential for export. While the success of this business depends on many things, the most important influence it has had is on the fisherman and their daily life. These fishermen endure a different kind of life than most traditional fisherman and it is an interesting way of life for these sea warriors. For people consuming this tasty fish, they will most likely never know its journey from the ocean to their dinner tables. They will not be aware of the daily lives of

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the people who work day and night to make sure that this vital economic product gets to the target market. Today the grouper fishery is a practice that affects the lives of many Maldivians and will continue to do so. To understand the daily lives of these fisherman, one must experience it firsthand. Discover Maldives traveled to Thinadhoo Island in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll to explore the daily lives of a group of fisherman and experienced what it is like to be a grouper fisherman. Soon after arriving on the island, we were informed that the centre of the action takes place on the eastern lagoon of Thinadhoo. About 300 meters east of the island, a group of fisherman has established their grouper fishery control centre. Yes, a control centre in the middle of the lagoon at an area about 4 meters deep. As grouper fisheries require catching and keeping them alive, the centre of operation is developed in the sea, on a system of floating cages that houses most of the infrastructure including

witness the daily lives of these people. Locally, these floating cages are called “Faana Koshi”, meaning Grouper Cages. On a commercial scale, this business requires not just one cage, but a system of cages and other facilities. Looking towards the ocean, this place looks like a shanty hut drifting on the ocean. Perhaps, it can be described as more resemblance to an oil rig. However, the picture is very different once you get there. Although this floating cage doesn’t look extraordinary, it is the heart of grouper fishery. Our entire perception about these fishermen changed from the moment we stepped our foot on their territory. It is not just a floating cage, but a system in itself. A system designed to manage the catch and ensure that they reach the indented customers and in the best of condition. The journey of groupers begins from their home, the ocean from where they are caught

“Life on these cages goes normally on a daily basis regardless of the weather and the environment. Whether its rains or under hot sun or in stormy conditions, these fisherman are continuously working” cages, cleaning stations, storage space and most importantly sleeping and cooking quarters for the workers. Being on the sea, the team had to travel on a small boat to

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and brought alive to these cages. One of the most important aspects of any kind of fishing is ensuring that the catch is kept as fresh as possible for the consumers. Unfortunately

this is also the most difficult part for these men. For these fishermen, they are always on the job. Building their fish stock depends on their ability to catch them as well as relying on outside sources. Although these fisherman embark daily to the nearby reefs to catch fish, large numbers of groupers are caught by other fisherman either on a contract basis or are bought from freelance fisherman as and when they are available. This way, the supply chain is maintained and the business kept alive without shortages. Fishing is carried out mainly in Dhonis using hand-lines. Fishing is also carried out with the aid of snorkeling gear. Boats come from different areas of the atoll with fresh live fish where they are


Features

Groupers have a delicious hard flesh and have a very high commercial value?

transferred to temporary cages. The activity that goes on here is amazing. While some transfer the fish to the cages, others get busy sorting the fish and so many other things happen at the same time. The weaker ones are kept separately from the healthy ones. Life on these cages goes on a daily basis regardless of the weather and the environment. Whether in rains or under hot sun or in stormy conditions, these fisherman are continuously working. They keep an eye on their live catch and ensure that they are safe and well looked after until they are purchased by a buyer. From the time they arrive, the fisherman kicks into action. Although these floating platforms are designed to accommodate people, usually only one or two caretakers will spend the night. This is simply because of the proximity of these floating cages to the island where it is easily accessible. Most fisherman stay on the island and come on and off as and when required. The cages are made from strong nylon nets kept in position by floats. Each cage is connected to the other with wooden rafts so that workers can move freely from one cage to the other. The entire structure is anchored to the seabed using strong ropes. The daily routine of the fisherman is not an easy job, though it is very interesting. From sunrise to sunset, these men focus their attention on keeping and maintaining their live stock and a concoction of chores ensure that the stock is safe and adequate. Feeding, cage maintenance, cleaning, packing are

some of the routine things they do on a daily basis. Feeding is carried out after a period of acclimatization to the new environment. Tuna and other small fish are used to feed the grouper, usually starting on the second day. Daily cleaning of cages is carried out by removing debris and other wastes. Cages have to be inspected on a daily basis for damage and also for cleaning them to free them from algae from time to time. It’s definitely not an easy job. As with any other business, there are ups and downs in this business. The most rewarding factor is that fisherman get to stay close to their families. According to Latheef, one of the fishermen from Thinadhoo, grouper fishery has had a huge impact on his family. He can now do

................................................................................................ 1. A closer inspection of the fish and the net for damages. ................................................................................................ 2.Fisherman towing a floating cage, where healthy stock of fish will be kept for a day or two. The event is driven by two men in the sea and one on the floating cages. ................................................................................................ 3. Fresh fish being transfered to the temporary cage. ................................................................................................ 4. Arrival of fresh fish stock. In order to maintain the stock, the fisherman rely on large fishing vessels to supply live fish. ................................................................................................ 5. Depending on the stock, sometimes hundreds of fish are kept in one cage. This fish population in this cage is a bit high due to limited space and hence, some fish will be moved to other cages with more space. ................................................................................................

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Floating shed where workers cook and sometimes spend the night.


Features

business while being based on the island. He no longer has to spend the whole day in the open sea for fishing. This business is not only good, but the grouper trade keeps plenty of fisherman busy making a living. There are many export companies in the Maldives, but almost all of them source their products from local fisherman, like these in Thinadhoo island. So there is always business and plenty of work to do. The demand of the grouper in the international market is fast growing particularly in South-east Asia and hence, this business is thriving in Maldives. More and more people in Maldives are now in this trade. On the day of the visit, the men have caught a 4 feet monster grouper from the same lagoon and should be selling for a good price. It was kept in one cage alone for acclimatization and fortunately the team got the opportunity to take a snapshot. Although this is a tough job, these men enjoy what they do, not because it is based

closed to their island, but it also gives the opportunity for the men to engage in other economic activities on the island. Due to the nature of the business, the fisherman are busiest when fresh fish arrive and during the time when they are packed in boxes after purchase. Other than this, it’s a matter of keeping an eye on the cages and ensuring that regular feeding and cleaning is undertaken. Hassan who works as a fisherman owns a convenient store in the island and runs the business smoothly while giving his full time to this business. According to him, if he was going for tuna fishing this would not be possible as it required fisherman to be away in the open sea. Many visitors come to Maldives and stay in water villas, often paying more than what they would pay if they were staying in a beach villa. For them, it’s worth the experience of living, sleeping, eating and relaxing on the water. For the brave fishermen, their daily life floats around these cages. Although this is not a luxury life,

the experience is similar. If you ever get the chance to visit an island where grouper fishing is practiced, it is worth it to take a glimpse at how these people live. Who knows - you might even want to experience it it yourself for a day or two?

........................................................................................ 6. Two men towing a cage with freshly arrvived stock, which is held in these temporary cages for few days. ........................................................................................ 7.Feeding the fish is not the only thing these people do here. Here one man cooks a quick meal which is pretty much a routine thing. ........................................................................................ 8. Regular feeding is essential to maintain a healthy stock. ........................................................................................

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Text: Rory Davis & Ahmed (Andhu). Photos: Amooo

Shores with round smooth corals provide the ideal condition for a coral massage.


Features Ever heard of coral massage? Probably not, but if you have been to islands, and especially walked barefoot, chances are that you would have had a coral massage yourself. The only difference is that you just didn’t know about the free massage.

O

ften we tend to overlook things that seem so banal to us, unaware of the virtues and benefits they may bring. It’s simply human habit that we only pay attention to what we know. But what about the other things out there waiting to be discovered? We are not all adventurous but any good thing that comes along in our everyday life is usually appreciated and adopted. One such example may be the feeling you get during a stroll along a beach. Stimulating your feet as you walk along the island shore maybe an everyday affair for some, while for others it’s a luxury. Imagine walking barefoot on the sand, your weight on the beach creating an invigorating and pleasant stimulation under the feet. Stepping on corals for a relaxing time! You might wonder what this is all about or whether it has anything to do with the ageold practice of ‘reflexology’, a therapy which follows the connection between points on the feet and hands and the organs of the body. Well yes, you can benefit from the virtues of reflexology by indulging in a self-therapeutic activity utilizing nature’s gifts. The concept of coral massage may be new to most people, but it is something that can be enjoyed by

people of all ages almost at zero cost. It’s the equivalent of a paid reflexology session. Reflexology is the modern term for a form of natural therapy based on the observation that there are areas on the feet, hands and ears that connect to every part the body including our internal organs, glands and nerves. By applying pressure to these areas, we can relieve tension, increase circulation and improve the natural function of our body. A form of reflex therapy has existed for thousands of years in various cultures. Chinese, Indian, Native American and Egyptians all have a history of using ‘reflexology’. Paintings dated 2400BC were found in the tomb of an Egyptian physician depicting two men working on the hands and feet of another two men. Reflexology provides benefits to people throughout the world. It has been practiced traditionally as well as by modern day healers. In days gone by, humans also naturally stimulated their feet by walking barefoot across the country, stepping on rocks, stones, and the rough earth. We stimulate our hands by climbing, picking up a variety of uneven objects, and swinging from trees like Tarzan.

........................................................................................ 1. Beach rocks along the shores are not always the best to walk on as most of them can be very slippery. However, in some areas, it is possible to walk. But always make sure that it does not have sharp edges and algae. ........................................................................................ 2. Large round and smooth corals are ideal for a soft massage on your feet. ........................................................................................

Many islands have corals along its shores that can give a wonderful massage below the feet. You can also get the same feeling by dipping yourself into ankle deep waters. But remember, do not walk on living corals for the risk of damage to the reef and the chance of getting severe sting.

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In modern times we are much more likely to be wearing shoes all day and only walking on flat or paved surfaces. Our feet and hands simply do not get the same amount of stimulation. We have lost a lot of the physical contact with our environment that gave our bodies’ natural stimulation. Maldivian islands are formed on a reef made up of various types of corals. Even on islands surrounded by fine beach you can’t miss a piece of coral. Depending on where you are, you can utilize these corals to soothe those aching feet and get a good relaxing massage. Many types of corals washed ashore can in fact give you this experience and are surprisingly pleasant. Most of these corals have rounded surfaces that come in different shapes and sizes. Their smooth edges form contours that can apply pressure to the feet ‘reflex zones’ when slowly stepping on them. The theory behind coral massage is to use the body’s weight to induce pressure on your feet. Such simple pleasures are available and abundant on many islands. Of course one has to simply value and indulge in it!

concept, coral massage should also be tried with some precautionary measures in mind. The most important thing is to find suitable corals to walk on. Here are some simple procedures for your next coral massage session. Right foot

Left foot

Brain

Getting a coral massage is easier than one could imagine. No appointments necessary and you can do it anywhere, when you want and for as long as you want. Being a new

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Brain Hypothalamus Pituitary Pineal Occipital

Sinuses

Neck Parathyroids

Eye

Upper Chest

A

Thymus Ear

Shoulder

Oesophagus Trachea Heart

Lung

Venous circulation

Sinuses

Eye Ear Lung

Liver

Duodenum

Shoulder

Apex of heart

Solar plexus Diaphragm

Gallbladder

Traditionally, Maldivians have been practicing coral massage for many years and it’s a common sight to see people walking on these corals. Maybe in the olden days, people didn’t know about reflexology, but were simply practicing for that wonderful feeling. Whatever the case, coral massage is a concept that will eventually be accepted as a natural healing method.

Not all coral are suitable for coral massage. Corals submerged in water are likely to be sharp and may cut your feet. These corals may also be alive so avoid stepping on them. Corals suitable for your massage are those that have been tossed up onto the shore and tumbled until the sharp edges have been

Arterial circulation

Stomach

Spleen

Pancreas Adrenals

Transverse colon

Kidneys Ureter Asanding colon

Intestines

Intestines Bladder

Ileocaecal valve Appendix

Rectum Lower pelvic Foot reflex

Sciatic nerve

Descending colon Sigmoid colon


Features

worn down. To avoid cutting your feet, place your feet gently and carefully. Most of the smooth surfaced corals washed on the shore get their shape through the constant erosion of rubbing against surfaces while being carried along by the waves. The form of the coral gives exactly the soothing effect on the feet as varying intensities of bumps push against the muscles beneath the feet. Begin slowly by placing the feet over any smooth surfaced coral letting your weight control your movement. As the round edge of the coral comes into contact with the feet, it kneads the muscles as you move. It’s a simple movement that gives you relief when you least expected it. Balance your body and keep treading on corals of similar forms irrespective of the sizes. Some islands are blessed with stretches of coral beaches, so clean and tempting. Many islands are profusely scattered with ‘massage corals’. Not only are these good for massage but they are also quite useful in cleaning and exfoliating the feet.

Another Maldivian cultural practice related to coral massage is rubbing the feet and heels before entering the mosque. Primarily built with ‘hirigaa’, (massive corals), every mosque comes with the indispensable area for ablutions. The area specifically built for the purpose has a well at the centre surrounded by blocks of coral slabs evenly arranged to form a platform. Scrubbing feet against the floor is part of the cleaning process during ablution and the same can be done while on the beach.

“Stimulating your feet as you walk along the island shore maybe an everyday affair for some while for others it’s a luxury”

So there you have it folks – Coral Massage! Give it a try next time you walk along one of our beaches. Or for romantic types, try doing it in pairs while holding hands. There’s a chance you might love each other even more by the end! In any case it’s a great way to get an invigorating and free massage that you won’t forget.

........................................................................................ 3. A young girl treating her feet on a rocky coast. Its all free! ........................................................................................ 4. Coral with algae are very slippery, so walking on these should be avoided. ........................................................................................ 5.The best form of coral to apply pressure to your feet. ........................................................................................ 6&7. A group of young girls treating their feet for a relaxing time at Raalhugandu, Male’. This area has many good corals to walk on. ........................................................................................ 8. Artificially laid corals along a beach to protect the beach. ........................................................................................

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Text and photos: Amooo

An artificial island created in the lagoon of a luxury resort. The island was created to enhance the experience for guests staying at the water villas.


Features This by-product of development is definitely not why travelers come to Maldives, but some of them will no doubt capture their minds. Despite their artificial nature, some of the artificial islands cannot be distinguished from natural islands. They have influenced the geography of every Atoll in the Maldives and are now emerging as a new breed of islands which are not only important to the tourism industry, but to many others as well.

Hot Tip for TRAVELLERS

When passing through a man made entrance channel, always look out for an artificial island.

Birth of an island, artificially created as a result of developing a navigational path for boats along the edge of this beautiful reef in Alif Atoll.

T

he hot sun was killing me and although we were surrounded by the sea, there was no hope of easing the heat. The sea breeze wasn’t good enough either. Not even a tree nearby and like in a desert, the heat was encroaching on us. To make things worse, the reflection from the white sand made it very difficult without sunglasses. I was on an assignment to undertake some groundwater investigations of a large island with my colleagues. Yes, a very large island indeed. I was working in Hulhumale’, the largest artificial island and the biggest such project ever undertaken in Maldives. Hulhumale was entirely created by dredging sand from the lagoon at an estimated cost of 32 million dollars. Today, this huge artificial island is one of the fastest growing urban and industrial centers in the country. Although

Hulhumale was a massive project, not many artificial islands in Maldives are as large as this. It is also very unlikely that such huge artificial islands will ever be created in the Maldives again - be it for financial or environmental reasons. However, one thing for sure is that many smaller artificial islands will be created in future for various reasons. Artificial islands have been created in the Maldives for more than 40 years. Their creation is a direct result of development and ever since development started, some way or the other, they have been created. It is only now that it has become very common due to rapid development throughout the Maldives. Land is a very scarce resource in Maldives and although our islands are stretched 860 km from North to South in the Indian Ocean, the total land area of Maldives is less than 300 sq kilometers. Land in

Maldives is expensive, hard to find and is in high demand. It is therefore no wonder why artificial islands have been created and more will come despite the number of islands. Although the main reason for their creation is for the provision of land, not all artificial islands are created for that purpose. These islands can do wonders. It can transform a small island into an economic hub. Artificial islands provide land and thus development opportunities multiply. Artificial islands in Maldives can be categorized into two types. The first is when they are made for a specific purpose. This could be for industrial, commercial or for residential development. Secondly and more commonly they are left as a byproduct of some other project. A lot of small artificial islands in Maldives are byproducts

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of development although this happens unintentionally. The islands of Maldives, being small and surrounded by sea, pose many challenges. Almost all the development projects have some kind of association with the sea. Any such project involving dredging of the reef often results in the creation of an artificial island. The necessity to dredge may arise due to various factors. It could be due to the geography of the atolls and reefs. The most common unintentional artificial islands are created when access channels are dredged. The geography of an island and the atoll sometimes makes it difficult or almost impossible for navigation because they are surrounded by shallow reefs. The only way for accessing these islands is through the creation of what is known as an “access channel” or an “entrance channel” by removing sand from shallow waters and making a pathway for boats. Access channels are very common throughout the Maldives. The sand that is dredged from the sea bed

has to be disposed somewhere and almost always, it ends up nearby, somewhere in the lagoon. It is an absolute necessity for the island whereby it brings potential for rapid development through economic activities. Consequently it creates artificial islands which gradually begin their journey into maturity. Sometimes people may plant a few trees, whereas almost always, trees and shrubs start growing on their own. This is an interesting development phase and although they are created unintentionally, some of them become very useful after a few years. Depending on their size and location, they can provide various opportunities for nearby communities and for a country with shortage

“Artificial islands have been created in the Maldives for more than 40 years”

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of land, even a square meter of dry land could be worth thousands of Rufiya. The development of these islands is not always easy and many factors determine their survival. Artificial islands are continuously exposed to the surrounding sea and because they are young, they are always in a constant

battle against nature for survival. They never remain the same way they were created. Some of them will continue to grow, while others will erode in one season and build up in the next season. The ability for these islands to survive primarily depends on many factors, such as the size of the island, the location, growth and exposure to the open sea. Artificial islands created for a specific purpose, brings along with it a plan of activities including measures to sustain the environment for the future. As a result, a lot of money is made available for such projects to ensure that they remain the way they were intended to and these projects will often be mixed with coastal protection measures that help to keep the island from disappearing due to the effects of the weather. Millions of dollars are spent on planned artificial islands and they are almost always coupled with some kind of coastal protection. The most well-known example is Hulhumale’ in North Male’ Atoll. On the contrary, when artificial islands are created as a byproduct of some other development project, coastal protection is not at all taken into consideration. Strangely, though some artificial islands emerge as a byproduct, they have become economically useful.


Features activities like drying fish, boat repair, slipways, processing fish etc. We now realize that although these byproducts of development may seem a total waste, they have enormous economic potential if communities can utilize them in a beneficial way. The two most important artificial islands in the Maldives will definitely have to be Hulhumale and Thilafushi. Hulhumale was intentionally created with years of careful planning and with the purpose of easing out the overcrowding of the capital Male’. Thilafushi, on the other hand, began its journey unintentionally. It only used to be a reef until the early 1990’s. With the growing population of Male’, it became increasingly difficult to manage the solid waste in the capital. The result was to create a lagoon-fill at Thilafushi by dumping waste. The project took off without any planning, but today, after 15 years, Thilafushi has become one of the most highly developed industrial zones in the country. Even without proper planning, Thilafushi is proving to be indispensable to the country’s development. The island generates income to the government and it could become one of the most economically thriving artificial island in the Maldives. As opposed to Thilafushi, Hulhumale has residential as well as industrial zones, carefully planned with adequate infrastructure. Hulhumale is still undergoing rapid development and will continue to be one of the economic hubs. Today, both these Artificial islands have proven to be very resourceful to Maldives. Whether it is the tourism or the fisheries sector, this new type of resource has made a big impact on our lives. Their potential is fully utilized by the tourism industry compared to any other sector. For a resort, to have even a small artificial island nearby is a huge asset and many have been created deliberately to enhance the resort’s surroundings. Whatever the cause, artificial islands provide the opportunity for a resort to diversify its tourism product. Be it a barbeque, a private dinner, a special massage pavilion or a totally isolated spa or restaurant - their potential is unlimited. Most resorts will generate extra revenue from these islands in ways that we cannot even imagine. Fine examples of such artificial islands used by resorts can be seen throughout the Maldives. Fortunately, it is not a common trend to create them in the resort’s vicinity, unless absolutely necessary. Creation of artificial islands is also strictly regulated and controlled by the government of Maldives.

Thilafushi is among the largest artificial islands in Maldives and has become an industrial zone. Some artificial islands in fact cannot be distinguished from its original look after many years of transformation.

........................................................................................ 1. An artificial island created as a result of developing a navigational path for boats in a resort in Male’ Atoll.

........................................................................................ 2. Hulhumale, the largest artificial island ever created in the Maldives.

........................................................................................ 3. A small artificial island on the mouth of the entrance channel at Hulhumale.

........................................................................................ 4. This island created east of Hithadhoo, Addu City is a by product of the harbour, has now become a popular spot for picnics.

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Apart from resorts, local communities use these islands for small-scale industrial

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Where can you see these artificial islands? 01

02 Haa Alif Atoll

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Haa Dhaalu Atoll Shaviyani Atoll

Noonu Atoll Raa Atoll Lhaviyani Atoll Baa Atoll

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05 07

Kaafu Atoll

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North Ari Atoll

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10 01 06

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South Ari Atoll An artificial island (foreground) created as a byproduct of developing the entrance channel to the island (background). Photo by Amooo

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MALE’

Vaavu Atoll

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Faafu Atoll Meemu Atoll

Dhaalu Atoll

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Thaa Atoll

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5. An artificial island created near a resort in order to gain acces to the island.

Laamu Atoll

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6.Two artificial islands created on the same lagoon of a resort in North Male’ Atoll as a by product of developing a mooring basin for the boats. Over time, these islands will mature and will blend in with the environment. In few years, it will be hard for someone to distiniguish them from a natural island.

........................................................................................ 7. Birth of a new artificial island. This photo shows the latest artificial island created in “Gulhee Falhu”, the second reef west of the capital Male’ just few days after the island was created. It was created to develop as an industrial area.

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8. An artificial island created as a result of creating a mooring basin for a resort, connected by a long jetty. The growth of trees and vegetation not only creates a natural environment, but protects the boats from strong winds. Photo Credits: Photo 8 by Ahmed Zahid.

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Gaafu Alif Atoll

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04

Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

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Gnaviyani Atoll 11

Seenu Atoll

Hulhumale’, just north-east of Hulhule island in North Male Atoll. Thilafushi – West of Villingili in North Male’ Atoll. North of Bodumohoraa island in Vaavu Atoll is a small artificial island that was created as a by-product of an entrance channel in order to access the island of Bodumohoraa. Today this artificial island cannot be differentiated from a natural island. East of Thinadhoo island in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll lies a small artificial island which is a byproduct of harbor dredging activities. Today, locals use this island to pass time, do fishing and other leisure activities. North of Kaashidhoo island in North Male’ Atoll there is a stretch of artificial islands have been created after dredging a channel. West of Hulhumale’ are two small artificial islets on their way to maturity. Despite their exposure to the harsh south-west monsoon, they have managed to survive until today. South-West of Gaafaru, an artificial island was created as a by-product of the access channel. Constance Halaveli resort in North Alif Atoll created an artificial island to bring an extra flavor of luxury and tropical feeling along its water villa jetties, which is amongst the longest set of water villas in the Maldives. To the East of Hirilandhoo, an artificial island lies, which is the result of dredging the entrance channel. The island is presently on its way to maturity. Gaagandu west of Furana island is a small industrial island, which is entirely artificial. Reethi Rah Resort – an island that has been artificially increased eight-fold in size for tourism.


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artificial islands are not only popular; they are the backbones for many development projects that are currently being undertaken in the Maldives. The strategic location of these two islands makes them ever increasingly popular and economically significant. Hulhumale was created with the plan to further increase the size of the island in different phases. Thilafushi will continue to grow and as more development projects materialize, the demand for land in Thilafushi and Hulhumale will arise. At present, even without a proper infrastructure, the demand for land in Thilafushi is so high that the island is unable to cater for more industries. The creation of these islands has its negative impacts and their potential and economic benefits come at a price. As always, it is the fragile environment that gets impacted the most. Suffice to say that size does matter, even the smallest artificial island can have unmatchable negative consequences. Larger islands will no doubt have greater impacts. The government of Maldives realized this many years ago and in 1993, the ‘Environmental Protection and Preservation Act’ was formulated and enforced. Today, the act regulates many development projects including keeping a balance on how and where artificial islands are created. Once created the artificial island goes through a test of time, as their fate gets determined by humans and nature. Some of these islands cannot be differentiated from a natural island, as with time they would have adopted features of a natural island. Trees overgrow them; the shoreline takes a natural shape and the combination of all these create ideal conditions for the island to develop. At present, numerous artificial islands are there in Maldives that cannot be differentiated from natural islands. The number of artificial islands is likely to increase as Maldives continue its path into further development. Whether they are intentionally created or emerge as byproducts of another development process, there is a cost involved in creating them, both financially and environmentally. The sacrifice of these two should be compensated by taking the maximum economic advantage into account. These islands, despite their artificial nature, can compete with natural islands with respect to beauty, especially when the islands mature after a few years.

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Text: Ahmed (Andhu) & Amooo; Photos: Amooo

Have you imagined Maldivian women playing water polo? To calm your curiosity, all you have to do is join a Maldivian picnic, because it is one occasion where you will most likely get to see this. Maldivians have a unique way of enjoying their weekends, all associated with beach and islands, packed with energy.

Playing a game of water polo in Kuda Bandos, North Male’ Atoll.


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et’s admit to one thing, we all need a break once in a while and we are often inclined to resort to the easiest and most practical form of relaxation around us. We all come from different cultural backgrounds and when it comes to picnics “à la maldivienne”, there is no dissociation from the islands and their beaches. If you think that picnics are all about tents, barbeques, relaxing in a green park, then in Maldives, the concept is very different not only because of culture, but because of the geography and social setup. Simple as it seems, the Maldivian picnics are enjoyed by everyone of all ages and comes with the thrill of being away from the usual home environment. As a rule, picknickers living in Male’, wake up at sunrise and get busy with logistics. The planning normally ends the previous evening, way past midnight. Often a group of individuals would get together for the planning and make sure that no details are left out. This is the standard for a weekend picnic and it applies especially for those living in the capital Male’. It is also common for young people to stay up late into the night. Nevertheless, resting is the last thing on their mind. It all begins by deciding on a picnic island followed by organizing food and transportation options. The menu absorbs a considerable amount of time! For people living in the greater Male’ region, the island of Kuda Bandos is especially a favourite, since it is designated for the purpose, on Fridays to be precise. This is cost effective as regular ferries operate during weekends and transportation is very affordable. Sometimes, more adventure oriented people will organize picnics on other uninhabited islands nearby Male’ and if this is the case, there is more planning involved as prior permission needs to be obtained from the land owners and private boat charters need to be fixed. Once all set, everyone looks forward to Friday, the first day of the weekend. It’s a time when friends and families finally enjoy a whole day together away from home and often the groups are not small, sometimes as high as 30 – 40 in number. So much the better! Large groups assign tasks among the group: carrying food, utensils, child minding, cooking, cleaning and transporting heavy materials. The group will ensure that this division of labour is well defined, and in the excitement, everyone will be ready to participate in their own way. The trip begins as dawn breaks. The boat ride to the picnic island itself is filled with fun and excitement; even a minute is not spared for boredom. On the boat heading to the island, some like to sing and dance, until they reach the destination. Men, women and children


You only have to pay a small entrance fee to Kuda Bandos and in return you get to use the island facilities like toilets, shower, bbq tables and picnic space for free.

participate in the Boduberu (local drum dance). The ambience would definitely be loud as picnickers let go of their usual organized lifestyles. On arrival the first instinct would be locating a good spot on the island, spreading everything around and then plan the breakfast - local flavours of course. Some groups bring readymade breakfast while others take up the task of preparing food the minute they find their spot. Soon after breakfast, activities begin. There is no age barrier and everyone from children to adults will take part. Dodge ball is the most popular game because the young and the old can take part and enjoy this game. It is a trademark of Maldivian picnics. The game is about eliminating members of the opposite group by hitting them with a ball. Two groups are formed, taking positions either within or outside a rectangle drawn on the ground. Those who stay outside will try to eliminate the team inside by throwing the ball at them. The ball touching anywhere on the body would mean the person has to come out of the rectangle, unless it is caught, in which case, it’s a point gained. This gives a chance to the team inside, to re-introduce their eliminated member. Once the last person is eliminated, the teams change sides.

“The boat ride to the picnic island itself is filled with fun.. Between breakfast and lunch, the time would be filled with activities and games. After a round of dodge ball, there would be either soccer or volleyball where women also take

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part. The round of games will be wrapped up just before lunch when it’s time to get busy with lunch preparations. Often women will be in charge of lunch, but not necessarily. Very often, men also take part in preparing the meals. A quick dip in the sea precedes the lunch to cool off. Nothing less than an elaborate meal, “Masbaiy” (literally “Fish rice”) takes up the main menu during lunch. Masbaiy is a must with Maldivian picnics, a Maldivian equivalent of Pilaf, although Chinese noodles have become popular for quick preparation process. Masbaiy is accompanied by Rihaakuru (fish paste fried with onions, chillies garlic and curry leaves). It is profoundly Maldivian, yellow in colour and tastes absolutely wonderful! Its real flavor comes out when mixed and eaten by hands. Yes! No spoons or forks. For the mild palatted foreigner, rice only would suffice. The meal is cooked over a makeshift stove and firewood is drawn from around. Little

groups set off in the trees to collect whatever that will help make a fire; coconut palms lying on the ground, dried coconuts, twigs, leaves and dried branches. Despite the common notion of relaxing under the trees and lazing on the beach, picnickers pass the entire day in a rather active manner. Activities continue after lunch. Today, volleyball and water polo have become popular during picnics, with the latter engaging almost all the age groups. The ambience transforms into a cacophony of screams as the two teams splash around water, trying to defend the ball and the directing team members take position. The game is played in shallow lagoon so that even children can take part. Another popular activity is snorkelling. It has been a past time dating back centuries. Different age groups are increasingly engaged in the activity.


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scraped coconut and lime is mixed just before eating. The day usually ends around 5:30 pm when everyone begins their journey back to Male’. Once again, the fun doesn’t end here; it’s fun, music and dancing even on the return journey. For the people living in the greater Male’ region, picnics have been pretty much restricted to Kuda Bandos island, but more and more people are now exploring other venues within Male’ Atoll. Although one third of the population lives in the greater Male’ region, the rest of the population also has their way with picnics. As the afternoon fades, men, women and children take turns, activity after activity until tea time. This is the last meal of the day. Although as a new trend many opt for packed biscuits and snacks, “kulhi faaroshi” dominates the afternoon tea time. This savoury dish, a combination of ground rusks, rihaakuru (fish paste), chillies, onions, salt,

Locals from other inhabited islands living in close proximity to small islets and sandbanks scattered around, are more fortunate. For them, sandbanks are the picnic spots itself; no shade of course, only a patch of white sand and the blue sea around. Similarly, islets provide the same, except with more options. I have witnessed the daredevils of many islands, small groups of young

people skilfully manoeuvring small boats to reach these sand banks and islands. A common sight in some areas are organized

.................................................................................... 1. Father and children working on a sand castle. .................................................................................... 2. Euphoric! A group of youth pass by a sea plan docked near their picnic island. .................................................................................... 3. Green mango dipped in a mix of chilli & salt is a must during picnics. .................................................................................... 4. Lunch time with children. .................................................................................... 5. “Masbaiy”, literally fish-rice is especially eaten during mid-day. Its full of flavours. .................................................................................... 6. A mother enjoying her lunch break with Masbaiy, the most popular meal among picnickers. ....................................................................................

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“fish hunts” using harpoons and diving for octopus. As for me, I only enjoy eating them once cooked, not the act of catching them! And then there are ideal hideaway spots on larger islands. Lucky for its inhabitants, these areas can sometimes be easily reached by foot or more commonly these days, on a pickup (truck). The idea is to change the scenery, but then one might wonder what change this would bring when you leave one spot in the island to another, a bit further. This is irrelevant once the mood sets in. Families, friends, they all look forward to one thing. Fun fun fun!! Larger families are well organized and usually carry a lot of household items to comfortably work even in the middle of the vegetation whereas smaller groups will only carry the bare necessities, the rest all arranged on the spot; large leaves are used instead of plates, rocks from the beach gathered to create a stove, and the most convenient to cook, the Chinese noodles, as the main meal, all have set standards to follow a casual outing. Addu Atoll is a good example where groups of families congregate to designated spots in an isolated area of the island for picnics.

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There is also a unique type of picnic where people go to uninhabited islands, not on a boat, but by foot. This may sound unusual, but quite a number of small islands throughout the Maldives are located close to inhabited islands and on the same lagoon, easily accessible by foot. When the tide is low, the lagoon in some areas is completely dry making it easy to cross. As picnics are always associated with isolation and being away from regular life, these isolated islands and beach spots are highly valued. They are nature’s gifts with nothing but vegetation and beach. During weekends, families and large groups cross the lagoon to these islands. It’s the perfect picnic plan, because it is cheap and easily reachable. The only obstacle between people and these islands is the regular rise of water level within the lagoon and in most places, they are as shallow as half a meter at mean tide or completely dry. Life in the islands is spontaneous and relaxing. Sometimes you may wonder that there are no schedules to follow, no deadlines to meet and no hurry to do anything. However, once parents attend to their children and the children have completed their schooling for the day or adults have done their task for the day, the rest of the

time is left to let life pass by. Hence, picnics are also organized on the spot mostly to these types of islands. Few friends get together, leave home for an outing, and there is no need for a boat to cross the lagoon - a perfect getaway to kill the afternoon boredom.

Kuda Bandos at a glance Getting there: About 45 minutes boat ride from the capital Male’. Accommodation: Day rooms are available for a reasonable price. However, overnight stay is possible with prior arrangments only. Activities: A wide array of fun filled water sports activities are offered by the water sports centre on the island including jet ski, kayaking, snorkeling, sail boat riding, bannana boat and water ski. Further info: Call +960 3325529


Features

Then there are also women who plan occasional escapades. Walking to the woods or to a remote beach area with the young ones is a regular activity in some rural islands. The idea is not just to escape from the routines, but also to enjoy time with the kids. In the presence of children, the picnics are more organized, for utmost care should be taken to ensure they are fed and looked after. With the entire beach and the water around them, the young ones never get tired of rolling in the sand and soaking in the sea. We don’t normally keep to the tradition of making sand castles but the beach is admired; children make a small water pocket and put a fish in it while parents keep an eye on them. I grew up in the Maldives, yet I have been fortunate to see mountainous and green landscapes, while that of ours come in bands of blues. Refreshing to the senses and soothing to the eye, for me these sceneries represent huge backdrops of paintings to muse over. However, the child in me fizzes in excitement as soon as my bare feet touch the water. It’s unavoidable! The beach and the sea are the two main ingredients required for my Maldivian picnic all packed with fun filled activities!

......................................................................................... 6. Kudabandos is the official picnic island that existed until new ones came up during the past few years. ......................................................................................... 7. Girls playing football is one of many activities enjoyed on a picnic. ......................................................................................... 8. Locals from Feydhoo island in Addu City crossing the shallow lagoon to the nearby virgin island which is used as a picnic spot. During low tide, most of the lagoon is exposed and dry. ......................................................................................... 9. Families from Male’ arrive in Kuda Bandos. ......................................................................................... 10. Men also participate in the cooking and with much enthusiasm. ......................................................................................... 11. Snorkeling is a common activity among adventurous picnickers. ......................................................................................... 12. Kids at a picnic. Passing time in the shallow lagoon can go on for the whole day for these kids. .........................................................................................

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Hot Tip for TRAVELLERS

From Male’, you can go to the airport for only Mrf 10 or just for only 1 US$.

Text: Ahmed (Andhu).

O

ur islands are dispersed over a surface area of what may seem impossible to reach. Yet again the rhythm of life seems to have well adapted to the challenges, if not difficulties this presents. Just like in any community, local transportation has taken many forms over time. The locals transformed the common perception of “impossible” into an everyday affair in the area of transportation. Firstly, dhonis and boats of various shapes and sizes appear. Some of them were passing by Maldives, others were shipwrecked and then there were those that belonged to the natives themselves. Living in close proximity to the sea, the indispensable dhoni gave

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an impetus to the boat building industry in various parts of the country. A very important vessel indeed, it serves to nourish the population by providing the basics of local food, the tuna. Navigation depended on the sun and stars until modern day gadgets appeared. The dhoni is ubiquitous and resists well in all weather conditions. The amazing time-tested dhoni is entirely handmade and its structure remained rather uniform throughout the ages. Although today its primary use is for fishing, passengers and cargo often end up on these boats, space and time permitting. What’s really striking is that, during the time of sail boats, some journeys could take more than three to four

days, sometimes even a month. Yet, the dhoni with its well built structure, out of wood from coconut palm, has resisted some perilous inter atoll transport. A makeshift shelter and stove are the necessities required for these journeys. The present-day obligatory life jackets used to be unspoken of and God forbid, incidents of misfortune are rather rare. Then there is the “Batheli”, a more bulky version of the dhoni having a small shelter for accommodation on board. The boat is conceived from wood and is designed for long journeys within Maldives. Bathelis are now becoming a thing of the past as modern mechanized vessels are now dominating making life simpler.


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owner. The schedule is communicated through a network of closely connected people belonging to the same Atoll. Travelling usually takes two days to the furthest Atoll with a night stopover close to a shallow lagoon or anchored at the harbour of another island. The journey will resume at day break. Ferry approaching Male’ harbour. Photo by Amooo

A seafaring nation by character, the Maldives has seen major evolutions in its dominant maritime sector. A very common appellation is “Addu Boat,” or “Huvadhu Boat”, the adjective simply refers to the origin of the boat and the notion of the large size comes with the name. Their journeys end at hubs where travelers from the region converge and diverge. These passenger and cargo vessels are built for long distances and to carry heavy loads. The ambience inside is complex. Space is assigned for travelers’ sleeping and meals are served on board. In the absence of a pre-determined time table, these boats arrive and depart mostly depending on commercial activities; the timings remain at the discretion of the boat

However, things have now changed to a remarkable level. With an increasing population and demand, reaching the furthest Atoll especially in the south has become less of a worry for the locals. One such example is “Bahaadharu” boat. Huge in size with a capacity of 225 passengers, it serves between Male’ and Kulhudhuffushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll. These mega vessels operate on regular schedules and conform to state enforced safety standards. People in this region are now able to organize their business and other visits to the capital more conveniently thanks to a printed time table available to all. This is the local version of a passenger liner, the tariff includes sleeping and cargo space plus meals no less than the menu of a medium range restaurant. Inside the vessel, the ambience is familiar with people from the same region and families and friends exchange notes. The long journeys

........................................................................ 1. A Maldivan Air Taxi sea plane approaches the runway of a luxury resort. ........................................................................ 2. Helmets are obligatory when riding on motocycle between Hithadhoo and Maradhoo in Addu city. ......................................................................... Photo Credits: Photo 1 by Amooo, 2 by Riya

Getting from one point to another point in Male’ in a taxi will cost you a fixed price of Mrf 20. Additional Mrf 5 will be charged per each luggage. At present, a new bus service operates within Male’ as par of a pilot project. You can carry your bikes and motorbikes on the shuttle ferry between Male’ and Hulhumale. Regular ferries operate from Male’ to nearby and outer islands on a regular basis. Locals from some rural islands still use “Bokkuraa” (small rowing boats) to visit close by islands.

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that used to take days have been cut short in the comfort and safety of these newly built “mega vessels�, that are made here in the Maldives. The Bokkuraa is much smaller and of a very personal size. This small boat operates entirely manually and have many uses; travelling from one island to a nearby island, reaching a larger boat within the harbour, carrying goods to another area or boat, bringing people ashore from a larger boat etc. It is practical and easy to maintain. Handled by both adults and children, these little vessels are dotted around harbours in almost all the inhabited islands. Sometimes children use it for fun to move within the lagoon, catching fish and collecting shells. Bokkuraas come in many sizes. They are maneuvered using a very long bamboo pushed against the lagoon floor and with oars in deeper areas. Today, some have opted to install a small outboard motor; hence more distances are covered to reach nearby islands within one atoll or looking out for bait further beyond the usual grounds.

Local transportation began taking new forms with the advent of the tourism industry in the 1970s. Island hotels, although concentrated around the capital, sprang up beyond Male’ Atoll creating a need for more efficient means of transport. Speed boats increased giving rise to an efficient mechanism of reaching other islands. While primarily this service was reserved for tourists, a benevolent system of carrying passengers to islands close to resorts. It was a new way of reaching home for those who live in the vicinity of an island hotel; people enjoyed an option of hopping on a speed boat heading to their atoll. Although this depended heavily on the availability of empty seats and the discretion of the island hotel, the life of some islanders became much simpler. An occasional visitor, however, must not look for something equivalent of a bus or a train schedule to move around. Hiring a

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speed boat is definitely more logistically complicated than hailing for a taxi! Speed boat services depend heavily on the tourism industry although individuals in some Atolls now offer faster transportation within the atoll or to another, nearby. A relief for those requiring quick services such as medical emergencies! With changing lifestyles these trends are replacing the age old dhonis in certain sectors. Remarkably, this option is appreciated more and more, sometimes irrespective of income brackets. We all need efficient services! Cars and motorbikes are not made for these sandy island roads. However, these self imposed machines for some are beginning to become a necessity. In bigger islands, cars and motorcycles are increasing. The pedestrian chooses to save time, and the slightest sign of affordability becomes an inspiration to own one. Hence, motorcycles,


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rather scooters, more appropriately put, have taken over the unpaved roads around the country. In what may seem an unstoppable trend, importers are quick to react and meet the demands, making a scooter a “must have” - a spoil for the energetic youth. These scooters have become the best friend of the Maldivian youth especially in the capital city Male’ and it seems to be the most practical form of transport. Small in size and easy to handle, scooters of different colours and sizes have turned out to be a necessity and an object of fascination. A visitor might wonder whether these outnumber the inhabitants in the capital. They are everywhere! Scooters have replaced the bicycle, which existed since the 1950s, when it first appeared with the Sultan of that time. The British-made Raleigh made in to the streets initially but slowly faded away with time as cheaper and new models of bicycles became more popular and affordable, during

............................................................................................... 3. A modern ferry travalling to outer Atolls, arriving in Male’ Harbour. ............................................................................................... 4. Passengers getting ready to board a ferry, which in fact is a dhoni built for carrying cargo. ............................................................................................... 5. These dhonis are served as ferries operating betwen Male’ and the airport nearby. ............................................................................................... 6. Motobikes getting organised before leaving to Hulhumale’, North Male’ Atoll. ............................................................................................... 7. Public bus operating in Addu City. ............................................................................................... 8. Bokkuraas are small locally made rowing boats that are handy to travel to nearby islands. ............................................................................................... Photo Credits: All photos by Amoo excpet photo 3&8. Photo 3&8 by Riya.

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A small dhoni leave the harbour.


Features

Maldives has the largest sea plane operations in the world. Sea planes are the most favoured and popular method of transporting tourists to the resorts.

late eighties. With a booming bicycle trend, both men, women and children longed to own one. An occasional alien model might be sighted but the popular “mountain bikes” did indeed bring about a revolution, which continue to some extent today. And a revolution indeed that has become so well engrained in the society! Honda and Yamaha scooters have created a craze in local transportation. Not just a utility vehicle, they have become a companion to pass time and an object of fetish for some, to the extent that care and money are invested to keep them polished and roadworthy. Some bigger varieties are not uncommon to the level that a few Harley Davidsons and oversized racing models can be sighted. They are seen around all the time, from morning till past midnight, creating a fury of traffic flow criss-crossing the streets of Male’ at certain hours. Then comes the taxis, comfortably air-conditioned, serving from point to point with a fixed fare. Charges in bigger Atolls like Laamu and Addu City, vary with distance. Bus transportation is uncommon, although there exists a network in Addu City, Laamu Atoll, Hulhumale’ and recently in Male’. School buses briefly operated in Male’ in the late Seventies.

But then an eye-popping experience would be to see racing cars, BMW’s or a Ferrari unexpectedly zooming by. It takes up road space, grabs attention and makes one wonder about these well cared-for vehicles which somehow make up for some form of leisure. Although not encouraged, their passionate owners keep them purely for personal satisfaction and occasional display. An unusual vehicle parade circulates round the periphery of Male’, especially during Ramadan season, passing time until the sun goes down. Taking off the ground, the Maldivian fleet has cut down travelling time and changed the habits of many locals. Although large boats depart from Male’ to faraway islands, these planes take a considerable amount of local passengers to different zones of the country. Everyone needs convenience and good service. Thanks to the regional airports operated by Island Aviation, more flights are available today, spoiling the habits of traditional boat travelers. Additionally, the biggest sea plane fleet in the world is operating in the Maldives. Fourty five Twin-Otter sea planes link many islands to their nearby resorts today. These mini–planes fly exclusively to almost all resorts. Nevertheless, it’s comforting to

have more options although sometimes seat availability depends on factors such as tourist movements and international flights. Travelling within this small island nation has evolved amazingly from their traditional sea faring ways to mechanised boats and twin otter sea planes. Locals have indeed become used to almost all available modes of transport, swiftly adapting themselves to benefit from every innovative opportunity.

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9. The sea plane operation at a resort viewed from above. The operation involves a multitude of transport vechicles. Seen here is a parked sea plane inside a reef. Dhoni’s or local boats wait nearby to pickup incoming passengers and drop off outgoing passengers who take the short journey from the resort’s jetty (on the left) to the sea plane. Sometimes, boats from other nearby islands and resorts will also pickup and drop off passengers who travel on these boats and sometimes on speed boats.

.................................................................................................... 10. “Maldivian” is the local airline flying to the regional airports within the country.

.................................................................................................... 11. A traditional cargo and passenger boat made for long distance travels within Atolls.

.................................................................................................... 12. Speed boats were initially serving mostly to tourist resorts. But today they are available to almost anywhere within Maldives. However this may be a bit pricey depending on the destination.

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Stingrays have a venomous barb at the base of their tail fin, but are not aggressive and attack only when being molested or stepped on. Photo: Verena Wiesebauer-Ali


Part 2 Text by: Verena Wiesbauer-Ali

In the Snorkeler’s Guide to Reef Fishes Part 1 (Discover Maldives 2011), you read about the Top Ten fish families that are likely to be encountered on a snorkelling or diving trip through the pristine Maldivian waters. In this Part 2 we are presenting you fish that are mostly encountered in groups or big schools, as well as famous potentially dangerous marine fish that are found in the Maldives that anyone could come in contact with.


Schooling fish Schooling of fish has very little to do with their education. It does have much to do with their ability to survive and reproduce in sufficient numbers. Schools are composed of many fish of the same species moving in more or less harmonious patterns throughout the oceans. A very prevalent behaviour, schooling is exhibited by almost 80 percent of the more than 20,000 known fish species during some phase of their life cycle. Many of the world’s fishing industries rely on this behaviour pattern to increase their catch size, especially for species such as cods, tunas or mackerels.

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Did you know How schooling fish swim so close without colliding ? A complex combination of senses allows fish to achieve those smooth schooling movements we marvel at. At one time it was believed a leader in the school directed their movements. However, it is now known that each fish responds to the movements and stimuli (such as pheromones) of the other fish. Eye placement on the sides of the head allows the fish to readily see what is next to them and move accordingly. However, sight is not the only factor used in schooling. Fish are able to establish their placement and direction in a school by using hearing, their lateral line and even the sense of smell.

But why do fish swim in SCHOOLS at all? First and foremost, schools protect fish from enemies. Staying in a group means that there is safety in numbers. Predators find it easier to chase down and gobble up a fish swimming all alone, than trying to cut out a single fish from a huge group. The same holds true in reverse. Fish can better defend their territory in a group. Predators will think twice about facing an angry school of fifty fish. It is also believed that swimming close together reduces friction and allows fish to conserve energy when swimming. When dinner time comes, food is easier to find as a group. Having fifty sets of eyes and noses gives the school a better chance of finding food. Last but not least, when fish spawn, a school ensures that at least some eggs will elude predators due to the sheer numbers produced in a large group.


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‘Venomous’ refers to animals that deliver (often inject) venom into their prey when hunting, or as a defense mechanism. A venom is typically produced in specialized organs. In contrast, ‘poisonous’ describes plants or animals that are harmful when consumed or touched. A poison tends to be distributed over a large part of the body of the organism that produces it.

Don’t touch, don’t eat! The general rule “Look, but don’t touch” could mean the difference between life and death underwater. Unsurprisingly, just like their terrestrial cousins, many marine animals have developed powerful venoms that aid them during predation, or prevent them from becoming prey. Fish have evolved spines, spikes, sharp teeth, barbs, venomous fangs or glands to defend themselves or to attack. Generally, a snorkeler or diver does not have much to fear underwater since most fish are defensive and attack only when being molested or threatened. However, accidently stepping on a venomous stonefish that injects a potent neurotoxin from its glands at the base of the spines requires first aid treatment and sometimes even an antivenin that is only available in Australia and in the USA. lionfish, which belong to the same family as the stonefish, are inquisitive fish and often hover in free water near to the ground. They

may sting divers in defence when approached too aggressively. Puffer fish, porcupine fish , and the ocean sunfish (Mola mola) are absolutely harmless reef fish and great photo objects. However, they contain the powerful nerve poison Tetrodotoxin which leads to serious and often lethal food poisoning. Whereas the flesh of the fish is generally edible, its liver, gonads, intestine and skin contain the serious poison. Only highly trained ‘Fugu’ cooks are able to prepare the fish for consumption. Maldivians have grown up near the sea and know which fish are edible and which are not. There is no danger in any of the tourist resorts to be served any of the poisonous fish species. However, accidents with venomous fish can occur when they are molested, threatened or stepped on, so care should be taken whenever using the sea.

......................................................................................................... 1. Lionfish are curious, yet venomous fish that come out at dawn for hunting prey ......................................................................................................... 2. Blue-green Chromis damsels swimming over a table coral, while a chevron butterflyfish and a coral grouper seek shelter underneath. ......................................................................................................... 3. The scorpionfish’s body resembles the surrounding coral reef; appendages on the lower jaw imitate algae or coral polyps. ......................................................................................................... 4. Though resembling Damsels, the Anthias belong to the same family as the groupers and cods. Here orange anthias in front of a tubastrea coral. ......................................................................................................... 5. Batfishes can be solitary or in groups; Juveniles form small groups and often settle in harbours under jetties. ......................................................................................................... 6. Pufferfish are named for their ability to inflate themselves into balloon-like shapes. It poses danger only when being eaten. ......................................................................................................... All photos courtesy of Jerry (Alidhoo Island)

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Wading carefully into the shallow water where stingrays often rest buried under the sand can prevent painful and swelling stings. Never touch the reef or any of its inhabitants and hover over the reef while snorkelling. When stung by a venomous fish, clean and disinfect the wound and immerse the punctured extremity into very warm water for 90 minutes, which could destroy the venom. Pain therapy should start as soon as possible and make sure that your tetanus immunization is up-to-date. Interested in more? The concise booklet ‘Dangerous Marine Animals’ was published by Atoll Images in 2009 and teaches about the biology and injuries inflicted by dangerous marine animals, as well as first aid treatment to be applied in case of emergency. It is available in the Maldives and shipped world-wide (contact: info@atoll-images. com).

..................................................................................................................... 7. Schools of soldierfish under an overhang, and neon fusilier swarm (left) ..................................................................................................................... 8. School of kashmir snappers. One of the many advantages of schooling is safety against predators. ..................................................................................................................... 9. The stonefish (Family: Scorpaenidae) - One of the most venomous fish in the sea and almost invisible while laying on a rocky underground. ..................................................................................................................... 10. Slender sweepers are found in hundreds while diving along a steep reef slope. Foreground: female moon wrasse. .....................................................................................................................

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Hot Tip for TRAVELLERS Currents are never very strong at British Loyalty, which makes diving easy.

The bow of the ship. The wreck has a rich growth of hard and soft corals.

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Text and Photos by:Amooo

The largest shipwreck in the Maldives lies in Addu City. A lot of history surrounds this famous ship, yet only a very limited number of Maldivian divers get to enjoy it. Exploring this wreck requires more than just diving. Discover Maldives got the opportunity to explore The British Loyalty on a recent expedition to uncover this hidden beauty and bring her story to our readers.

A diver illuminates the huge propeller of the ship.

F

or divers who come to Maldives or live in the Maldives, this dive is one of the top ten of wreck dives. Its “sheer size”, the “massive propeller” and the “torpedoed holes” are things that divers always talk about. Indeed, the British Loyalty could be nominated as the most famous wreck in Maldives. However, it is not because it is the largest one in the Maldives. First of all, as opposed to most of the wrecks in Maldives, it lies in the southern hemisphere. Secondly, its history is not only associated with the Second World War, but also to the British occupation in Addu Atoll. In Maldives, most shipwrecks are either cargo or fishing

vessels, whereas unlike in the Pacific Ocean, warships or ships used in the Second World War are almost nonexistent. Lastly, people tell interesting stories on how this ship was destroyed.

Brief history The British Loyalty, built in 1928, was a motor tanker of the “British Advocate” class of vessels and was owned by the “British Tanker Co. Ltd.” which was based in Llandarcy, South Wales. At the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939,

it was enlisted as a transport vessel by the Ministry of War. It was one in a whole group of motor and steam tankers registered under the British flag that transported fuel to ships and ports throughout the world to support the war effort. Soon after its enlistment, the British Loyalty was involved in an incident with the enemy. This was the first attack on it and occurred on the 3rd February 1940. The next attack occurred while it was at the port of Diego Suarez, Madagascar, on the 29th of May 1942. The facilities at Diego Suarez were used for servicing allied vessels. It was here where the Japanese submarines

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torpedoed the tanker and sunk it to the bottom of the harbour in around 67 feet with only part of its funnel visible above the surface. The stern was firmly embedded in the harbour mud. After the attack, the ship was salvaged and brought to the surface. It is not clear how it reached the Maldives, but it was transported. most likely towed, to Addu Atoll. In Addu Atoll, the British Loyalty was docked west of the island Villingilli inside the atoll lagoon. The Germans and the Japanese were unaware of the British air force base in Addu, until submarines discovered it. Addu Atoll has only four channels (openings) to the atoll lagoon. The British had established anti-submarine nets through these channels in an effort to prevent any torpedo attacks. Nevertheless, the German submarine U-183 torpedoed the British Loyalty in March 1944 from outside the atoll through a gap in the anti-torpedo nets. Although it had been previously torpedoed and damaged, the tanker did not sink. It was not fully repaired but kept as an oil transport and fuel storage vessel. After the incident, there was significant oil pollution and British personnel had to clean the lagoon. On 5th of January 1946, the British Loyalty was scuttled southeast of Hithadhoo Island in the Atoll lagoon. Since then, it has become a popular dive location, visited by hundreds of divers every year. Even after almost 66 years on the sea floor, oil leaks are still a daily occurrence. Today, some locals have initiated the process of educating and informing the broader community about setting a possible end to the oil leak.

How to access Lying in the middle of the Addu Atoll lagoon, access to this wreck is only possible from a boat. On a clear day, spotting the wreck from the surface is not a difficult task when the visibility is good. However, since the lagoon is protected from strong currents, the water is often murky which makes it difficult to locate the wreck from the surface. All dive boat captains and guides can pinpoint this wreck through a number of ways, either via GPS or because of a thin film of oil floating on the surface just above the wreck caused by leaking oil from the tanker. Dive guides will tie a descent line to the ship, or to the buoy which is fixed to the centre of the wreck by a rope. Usually, the buoy is kept at 3 meters below the surface, so dive guides can easily locate it while at the same time, it is concealed from fishermen

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and others passing by. While you descend holding the rope, you will notice the huge size of the wreck which gets clearer and bigger as you go deeper. The ship, which is 134 metres long with a beam of 17.4 metres, now lies with its starboard side resting at approximately 32 meters deep. Its bow faces almost directly to the north. The port side lies on the top at 18 meters, making it possible for open water divers to explore at least the top of this wreck. Depending on the currents, you may either move from bow to stern or vice versa.


ScubaDiving What to see Due to a high amount of plankton in the water, one has to dive close to the wreck in order to see it clearly. The ship is heavily overgrown with both hard and soft corals. The railings are encrusted by large balls of hard coral. The amount and diversity of fishes, most notably the schools of batfishes that hover above the wreck varies from day to day. Many fish have made their home in the wreck and large turtles swim around its deck. For lucky divers, sharks and mantas can also be sighted as well. The propeller is at 23 metres and covered in big bushy black corals. There are several passages and spaces through which you can dive. If you are an advanced diver and have enough air, dare to explore the torpedo holes and other

Watch the wreck online easily accessible confined passageways, but be careful to always keep an eye on your dive computer and air supply. In front of the engine room are two large holes, one on the deck and the other in the keel. These holes are big enough for divers to enter the ship’s interior. The British Loyalty is a wreck worth exploring and every year, hundreds of wreck lovers from all over the world come to the Maldives to explore it. The ship has been resting in Addu many years, and has since become a piece of history and part of the Maldivian heritage.

Visit www.atoll-images.com to see a documentary video of the wreck filmed and produced by the above dive team from Addu City.

..................................................................................................................... 1. The spare propeller of the ship with its four blades rests at about 32 meters on the sea floor. It is heavily covered with algae. Seen here on the foreground is a red starfish which managed to make this her home. ..................................................................................................................... 2. The hole believed to be created by the torpedo attack. Divers can easily pass through this hole and come out from the other side. ..................................................................................................................... 3. Before getting on the boat, the diveguide made sure that we were well briefed about the dive. Dive briefing is given by Marusoom, at Equator Village. ..................................................................................................................... 4. Divers approaching the descent line after the dive. ..................................................................................................................... 5. One of the larger holes to enter the wreck. ..................................................................................................................... 6. On the deck side, Marusoom inspects the ship with his powerful torch light. On the foreground is a bat fish which managed to swim away from the school to pose for the camera. .....................................................................................................................

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}} My personal experience exploring the wreck The diving expedition for Escale Maldives was lead by Mufeed, a SCUBA Diving instructor and base leader at Herathera resort, and Marusoom, a Dive Instructor working at Equator Village in Gan island. We were briefed at Equator Village from where we headed straight to the dive dhoni. The friendly crew had already filled our tanks and prepared snacks and drinks. My mission was to explore the wreck from stern to bow and take photos of key areas like the propeller, the stern covered in black corals, the bow, the spare propeller that lies at 30 meters, the engine room and the huge holes created by the torpedo attack. I knew that the wreck was too big to explore on a single dive without decompression, so we planned two dives. We descended along the guidance rope to 18 metres to the top of the wreck where huge table corals have grown. The ship’s size impressed me most. Due to poor visibility, I could not see more than 10 meters. From there, we headed straight towards the stern and descended further to my favourite area. The huge steel blades of the propeller, estimated about 6 feet tall, made Marusoom look like a tiny person. The entire propeller is covered with hard corals and soft corals, most notably big bushy black corals. We used an underwater torch – a “must have” for such a dive - to explore the area. According to some, the propeller

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originally had four blades, but I could only see three of them. We then took a turn from the stern, where more black corals occupy the wreck, and moved towards the bow with the deck on our left side. Approximately 60 meters from the stern are two large holes, one on the deck, and the other on the keel. Their edges are sharp, most likely caused by the torpedo attack. Between these holes and the stern, I encountered numerous batfish and while I passed below the railing, they accompanied me. On reaching the hole on the deck side, we decided to pass through. It was completely dark and so huge that we felt like we were in a cave. As I was racing against the clock to avoid decompression, I could not explore the inside of the wreck, so we came out from the other side. From here, we headed straight to the descent line and ended our first dive. Although I was able to take a number of photos, the poor visibility was creating too much back scatter and so I decided to shoot without flash. After our surface interval, we jumped in again for our second dive and went straight ahead to the spare propeller which was on the seafloor at about 32 meters. This huge chunk of steel with four blades was covered in a good array of colourful algae and a starfish on it. Resting on the seafloor, even the tiniest movement of my fins disturbed the sand and reduced visibility instantly.

We then moved towards the bow. On reaching the bow, I wanted to photograph the entire wreck, so I moved further north to fill the frame. Visibility decreased the further I reached, but I managed to capture the whole ship on a single frame. To my surprise, our dive guide showed us a leaf fish on the deck side which, according to him, has been living around the wreck for many years. My mission was finally accomplished and we ended the dive from there. The two dives were just enough to explore this huge wreck quickly, just like skimming through a novel. To really explore the wreck and its beauty, divers must make several dives. To me, the stern section alone needs one dive, the holes in front of the engine room another dive and so on.

Mufeed, second from left, was leading the dive expedition. On his right is Ahmed from Escale Maldives and on the left is Marusoom and his assistant. Mufeed is among the most experienced dive instructors in Addu City. He now works for Jumeirah Dhevanafushi in Gaafu Alif Atoll Meradhoo.


Eight pinnate tentacles of an Octocorallia


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GUIDE TO COMMON CORALS PART 1 Text and photos: Verena Weisebauer Ali

Guide to Common Corals: PART 1 Coral taxonomy – the practice and science of classification – is not only confusing to the layman; there is even dispute among specialists. Underwater coral identification slates for snorkelers are available on the market, often sold in combination with Fish-ID slates. While fish are often quite easy to identify based on their shape, fins, size or colouration, coral identification is a completely different story. Neither is their colour, nor their shape a definite indication of a species, or even a genus or family. Laymen often classify corals according to their growth form: the massive “brain coral” (photo no.1), the finger-like “branching coral ” (photo no. 3), or the plate-like “table coral ” (photo no.5), just to name a few examples. In fact, none of these groups point out to a specific taxonomic class. We need to understand that corals are adaptable; depending on the position in the reef, one and the same coral may grow delicate branches in a sheltered area, but exhibit a more massive, less vulnerable shape in more exposed reef areas. With some exceptions, the majority of corals can only be identified from their bare skeleton under a magnifying glass or a microscope. What is more important to the layman and useful for conservation is the common understanding about corals, their importance for small island nations like the Maldives, and the classification into the two basic groups: the reef-building and the non-reef building corals.

Coral structure Corals are animals, made up of tiny organisms known as polyps. A polyp looks very similar to a jelly fish turned upside down. If you take a close look at a coral, you will see that each one is made up of hundreds or even thousands of such polyps combined, making up a colony (there are exceptions like the Mushroom coral Fungia, for example, as on photo no. 2). Polyps live in cavities similar to a cup in the corals’ limestone (calcium carbonate) skeleton, which it produces itself by biological secretion. An individual polyp consists of a fleshy sac topped with a ring of tentacles around a central mouth opening. Corals feed with their tentacles; however, the reefbuilding corals need them only at night and switch to another food source during the day. This second method is so important for coral reefs like the Maldives that it is worth mentioning here. Reef-building corals have within their structure a special type of algae called zooxanthellae (a single-celled plant) – we’ll call them ‘zoox’ in short. These use sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce energy, oxygen and other nutrients just like terrestrial green plants do via photosynthesis. The relationship between the coral polyp and zoox is a symbiotic relationship, meaning that both parties mutually benefit from the association. The polyp provides shelter to the alga, while obtaining up to 90% of its food synthesized by zoox. These algae also assist with waste removal and stimulate calcification indirectly, which was necessary for the Maldivian Atolls to develop. Stressed corals expel their zooxanthellae and become pale white, exposing their bare white skeleton – a phenomenon called ‘coral bleaching’. Zoox-bearing corals are commonly called “stony corals” due to their hard skeleton .

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(the Greek prefix ‘hexa-’ means ‘six’) and Octocorallia (the Greek prefix ‘octo-‘ means ‘eight’). Hexacorallia – mostly but not always “hard corals” - possess six or a multiple of six (i.e. 6, 12, 24, 48 etc.) tentacles, whereas Octocorallia – mostly but not always “soft corals” - possess always eight pinnate tentacles (see main photo on the article opening page) around their polyp’s mouths. This is a fool proof way even laymen can tell true “hard” and “soft” corals apart, provided that they can see the tentacles during the day with a magnifying glass. Let’s take the so-called “Blue coral ” (Heliopora coerulea, see photo no. 15) as an example: it possesses a beautiful blue skeleton under its brown tissue and by touching it you will feel that it is hard. But is it really a “hard coral”? When inspecting the tiny polyps which it may show occasionally during the day, you will detect eight pinnate tentacles, thus, Heliopora is classified as an Octocorallia, and even a reef-building one! An obvious hard in structure, and reefbuilding “soft coral”, doesn’t really sound reasonable, does it? Such examples justify the use of sometimes hard-to-pronounce scientific terms. Admittedly, Heliopora is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

Reef-building or not? Now we can understand the two basic groups better: the reef-building and non-reef building corals. Reef-building corals are mainly those that produce a hard limestone skeleton with the help of zoox in their tissue – at least in tropical regions (exceptions of the rule are so-called “cold water corals” or “deep water corals”). Non-reef building corals do not always harbour zoox and are unable to produce a hard skeleton. They are commonly called “soft corals”, which include the seafans and leather corals, for example.

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Soft corals, hard corals, hard soft corals and soft hard corals? “Hard coral” and “soft coral” are, again, layman terms. They start becoming confusing if you dive and see the wonderful fleshy Goniopora coral (photo no.8) swaying its exposed tentacles with the water current during the day. You could swear it’s a “soft coral” and will vainly try to find it on your underwater coral identification chart. But Goniopora is a hard coral that extends its long fleshy polyps during the day, unlike most of its cousins. The best way to get out of the dilemma is to learn a few terms scientists use for coral classification: Hexacorallia


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The use of taxonomy to classify all organisms originated in the 1730’s when the Swedish biologist, Carolus Linnaeus, developed the system of binomial nomenclature for naming species. This naming system utilizes two words for each species name; the first word is the genus (e.g. Homo) and the second word is the specific epithet (e.g. sapiens). All organisms are grouped into seven primary taxonomic ranks: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. There are often other subdivisions of these ranks.

............................................................................................ 1. Commonly called “Brain coral” due to its maeanders and shape; Family Faviidae, Hexacorallia. ............................................................................................ 2. A solitary Mushroom coral (1 polyp). Fungiidae, Hexacorallia, yet not reef-building. ............................................................................................ 3. The genus Acropora is easily recognized by the axial polyp at the end of each branch, which is different from the radial polyps. ............................................................................................ 4. “Table coral” Acropora fallen on its side; new tables grow horizontally to catch sunlight ............................................................................................ 5. “Table coral”, Genus Acropora, Hexacorallia. ............................................................................................ 6. Polyps with living tissue; mouth can be seen, tentacles inverted. The exposed skeleton (low left corner) is overgrown with green algae. Diploastrea, Faviidae, Hexacorallia. Photo credit: Csaba Tokolyi, Marine Photobank. ............................................................................................ 7. Bare white skeleton from a “brain coral”, hard in texture and therefore used for building seawalls and houses in the Maldives ............................................................................................ 8. Goniopora with long soft fleshy polyps, yet a reefbuilding Hexacorallia. ............................................................................................

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CONFUSED? Authors who write books on marine life, whether fish or invertebrates or plants, use scientific taxonomy to structure their books. Surely you will have held in your hands one of the colourful invertebrate or fish identification books if you have travelled to the Maldives and were interested to name what you have seen underwater. Now you will understand why you will find some softlooking corals in the “hard corals” chapter, and vice versa. Don’t feel confused. You learned now that coral taxonomy is tricky, and that it is more important to know whether a coral is reefbuilding and alive than its species name. Armed with the most important terms like ‘polyps’, ‘tentacles’, ‘Hexacorallia’ and ‘Octocorallia’, you are now ready to try yourself in coral identification of some easy taxonomic groups of Maldivian corals.

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................................................................................................ 9. Sea whip, “Black Coral”, Order Antipataria, Hexacorallia. ................................................................................................ 10. Massive coral with medium sized polyps; tentacles inverted. Favia, Faviidae, Hexacorallia ................................................................................................ 11. Sea fan, Octocorallia. ................................................................................................ 12. “Sun coral” Tubastrea with fleshy polyps and extended tentacles, a multiple of 6. Dendrophylliidae, Hexacorallia. ................................................................................................ 13. Bleached dying coral, i.e. expelled zooxanthellae, exposing the bare white skeleton under the tissue. Family Pocilloporidae, Hexacorallia. ................................................................................................ 14. Galaxea coral with spiky skeleton (septae); Family Oculinidae, Hexacorallia ................................................................................................ 15. True “Blue coral” with brown tissue and blue skeleton. Reef-building, yet an Octocorallia with 8 tentables per polyp. Heliopora coerulea. ................................................................................................


Clue: Type the coordinates in Google Earth search bar.


I am sitting on a speed boat racing through the deep blue sea of the Maldive Islands. My skin feels salty and the rocking of the boat is lulling me to sleep. But I’m not dreaming. I am with a group of Maldivian friends on a trip to North Nilandhe Atoll or Faafu Atoll, about a three hour boat ride from Male’. Our plan was to stay in Nilandhoo island and visit all the inhabited islands of Faafu Atoll.

Text by: Michelle Walker, Photos by: Damon Pyke

sunglasses, many zipping around on motorbikes to avoid the heat. The island we approach now is a world away from urbanised Male’. We slip into a turquoise hued harbor and dock; immediately I head for the shade of nearby coconut palms where beyond I can see a quiet village with clean sandy streets. This is Bilehdhoo, the first island on our agenda.

Over the next three days we island hopped in Faafu Atoll and my partner, Damon, and I are exposed to the beauty of the Maldives, the nature of colourful island characters and some of the trickiness of managing human in habitation of the tiny, shifting white sands. Male’, the capital, is a sight for the senses. As you approach from the airport ferry a floating city fills your eyes. The island is jam packed with multi-coloured apartment towers and surrounded by a harbor and tetrapod sea wall that protects its 150,000 or so inhabitants from the forces of the surrounding ocean. Within, the paved streets are alive with well-dressed women, sparkling-eyed children and young men with curly hair and big

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While we wait for the Bilehdhoo Island Council member to join us, I stroll around and quickly learn that a harbour is an essential part of life for those living on village islands. Fishing is one of the main economic activities here and a harbor grants a fisherman a good night’s sleep as he is sure that his boat is safely sheltered from changing winds

and ocean currents. A harbor allows business and trade not only because of the space created for activities like boat building and drying fish, but the ability to easily take goods to and from an island. At Bilehdhoo the harbor is already too small for the 22 local fishing boats, let alone boats from nearby islands that rely on the Bilehdhoo harbour in adverse weather. There are some other issues too: the entrance is too narrow for bigger boats and an open channel into the harbour that helps to flush the water seems to be allowing sand to enter and fill up the harbor floor. I start to understand the difficulties of managing infrastructure in these dynamic, ever changing ocean environments. As I walk on top of the walls of the harbor I can see that they have been made from different materials and parts of it are eroding against ocean forces. My Maldivian friends explain that we can see different ‘generations’ of harbor construction. The first and oldest type has quay walls and breakwaters made from corals. Although mining coral for construction is no longer allowed, in the past coral was one of the few available resources for the Maldivian people. The second ‘generation’ harbour is made from bags that contain a mix of sand


TravelDiary I am sitting on a speed boat racing through the deep blue sea of the Maldive Islands. My skin feels salty and the rocking of the boat is lulling me to sleep. But I’m not dreaming. I am with a group of Maldivian friends on a trip to North Nilandhe Atoll or Faafu Atoll, about a three hour boat ride from Male’. Our plan was to stay in Nilandhoo island and visit all the inhabited islands of Faafu Atoll., Over the next three days we island hopped in Faafu Atoll and my partner, Damon, and I are exposed to the beauty of the Maldives, the nature of colourful island characters and some of the trickiness of managing human in-habitation of the tiny, shifting white sands. Male’, the capital, is a sight for the senses. As you approach from the airport ferry A small dhoni in Bilehdhoo harbour. a floating city fills your eyes. The island is jam

Women engaged in beaching a boat to shore. Photo: Amooo.

and cement, but there is evidence that this type is also not withstanding the force of the ocean. Its smooth, concrete outer surface doesn’t absorb enough wave energy, allowing big waves to splash over, eroding the sand on the other side. The new approach for the third generation of harbours is to use rock boulders imported from India which, with their jagged, uneven edges, are better at absorbing and diffusing wave energy. They are also strong and last for a very long time, unlike corals or sand-cement bags. This is the plan for Bilehdhoo, according to the island councillor with whom we met briefly. Damon and I jump into the water for some snorkeling. The reef is not pristine and we can see the effects of past coral bleaching and perhaps activity from the villagers, but still the reef supports a lot of life and some beautiful corals. Destruction of the reef is one compromise for having a harbour; the other is that a harbour can make erosion worse in other parts of an island as it prevents the natural movement of sand around the island. The Council members take us to the side of the island that is opposite the harbor to show us the erosion that has already occurred. Trees have fallen into the sea, others are still living but their roots are exposed. Village homes are not far from the encroaching shoreline. My mind is spinning to understand the best solution to this, but there is

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A man posing for a photo outside the mosque.

The island has few dhonis that regularly goes for fishing. These are fish being dried under the sun. They can be sold at a good price in the market. only one answer; understanding each island! Every island is different and it is essential to understand the shifting currents and sands before attempting development. After our snorkeling session, we sit down to lunch on a traditional Maldivian meal of fish curry, roshi (flat bread) and mas huni, a dish made of mashed tuna, grated coconut, lemon and red onion, at the only tea shop in the island. So delicious that I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner; this is lucky because that is the Maldivian way! At the next table some village men loudly discuss important issues of the day. We prepare to leave but our visit is only complete after we sample the local coconuts. Damon comments that it’s the sweetest coconut water he’s ever tasted and I have to agree. Back on the blue water we zip to the next island, Magoodhoo. In front of the

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Council office is the island mosque; a man who has finished his prayers shades himself from the sun with a big, brightly coloured umbrella. He’s happy to stop for us to take a photo. A quick walk around this island and we can see that erosion is again a problem, but we can also see how the locals have tried different ways to manage the problem themselves. On one beach, coconut trees have been planted to help to stabilise the beach. In another area, old concrete walls have been placed 20-30m from shore to act as a breakwater and slow down potentially eroding waves. Back on the streets and I’m amazed at

the tranquility of the village. The sandy streets are swept clean; every now and then we pass a little shop or cafe. On a wide beach we come across a game that about 20 young girls are playing. There’s a net strung across the sand with most of the girls standing on one side. On the other side stands a single girl holding a tennis racket. She faces away from the net and the other girls,


TravelDiary The Joali, seem to be an essential part of island life here. Some swing from trees while others are supported on steel structures.

throws up a tennis ball and whacks it behind her. The ball flies towards the bunch of young women, most of who squeal and jump out of the way, the brave ones trying to catch the ball. This is ‘bashi’, a traditional Maldivian game for girls, invented by the first Maldivian President, Mr. Mohamed Amin. In less modern times I’m told the ball was made of coconut leaves woven around a tiny coconut and the batting was done by a whack of the hand. With the new modern touches bashi has an intensity and entertainment value fit for international television! At the nearby jetty some strange sounds attract our group away from the game of bashi. There is a Dhoni (traditional Maldivian fishing boat) beached on the sand and attached to a thick rope which stretches back from the shore. I’m motioned to grab a hold of the rope along with 40 or 50 other men and women. At a man’s call we heave in

unison, back then forth, and slowly the rope seems to move, shifting the huge Dhoni just a little at a time, with the help of a system of pulley tethered to a palm tree. We were lucky to witness this rare event, as community power is more often now replaced by a more efficient but less spectacular winch! Amooo snapped away on his camera happy to be witnessing a timeless occasion that he had been wishing to photograph for years. After all the exertion, I settle into a

“Joali” or Maldivian rope chair, next to a lady dressed in a black head scarf who smiles at me. Our conversation doesn’t get far but I can feel that the locals around me have no concern for my presence; instead they are slightly amused at the foreigner enjoying their rope chairs. The Joali, seem to be an essential part of island life here. Some swing from trees while others are supported on steel structures, 10 in a row, like the ones I’m sitting in. For me it’s a chance to breathe in the clean air and watch the coconut palms sway in the breeze. For the villagers, a group of Joali are a place to spend time with friends and catch up on local island news. Before sunset, we hurried back to our host island, Nilandhoo for the night.

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The next morning we wake refreshed from a long sleep and head out to meet the rest of the team for a breakfast of roshi and fish curry. In Nilandhoo, Island activities are already in swing to make the most of the cool morning. The smell of fish wafts from across the road where smoked tuna fillets are drying on racks in the sun, destined for export to Sri Lanka. On the way to the boat we pass a man weaving palm leaves into thatching that will be sold to resorts for a traditional style of roof covering. The first island we reach today is Dharaboodhoo. Damon heads off to circumnavigate the island while I take a walk on the peaceful, sandy streets. I am introduced to an elderly villager who turns out to be a Maldivian superwoman! At 65, this smiling woman is mother to 18 children. When we meet her she is sitting on the floor weaving palm thatching with a copy of the Qur’an sitting on a wooden block in front her. I’m told that she can recite 90% of the Qur’an, but this is only one of her many amazing skills. She shows me a box of treated coconut husks and the rope that she has already woven from the husk. Both the thatching and rope will be sold to resorts for roofing. We take a walk around her home and meander past pots and pots of chillies planted in old vegetable oil containers; some of the chillies she sells. She proudly explains that she and her daughters know how to make cement and build a house. Inside her house I see the bed where her 18 children were born; a curtain is draped for modesty. We learn that she was married to her husband for 51 years, during which time they barely spent a moment apart. Two of her granddaughters hide around her legs and shyly pose for a photo. I get the feeling that this woman, who has probably never left her island, is very happy and satisfied with the full life she has led. From the quick glance inside this village

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A women smoking tobacco from a locally made pot, known as “Gudu Gudaa”.

house, I learn about another crucial issue for Maldivian islands – getting fresh water. Each house has its own well and traditionally groundwater was the main source of freshwater for the people living on inhabited islands. I’m amazed to consider that these sandy islands hold so much water in-between the sand particles underneath our feet. These days rainwater is used for drinking water, which is a good idea as the Maldives receives plenty of rain, at least 1.8m each year. It is sweeter water but also a replacement for often contaminated groundwater, a legacy of the need to live on top of groundwater resources in the face of limited space. Afterwards I jump at a chance to

dive with dive guide, Rifa. Under the water we’re surrounded by colour and movement, and unparalleled water clarity. Rifa has been managing dives from safari boats in the Maldives for 10 years, but no dive for him is routine. He spies hidden treasures in the reef and we chase a graceful eagle ray from a distance for a better look, one of his favourite sea creatures. Back in the boat I soak up the salty sea spray and the view of endless, sparkling ocean that will only be mine for a short time. The boat docks at another inhabited island, Feeali, and I head off with Riya to go around the island, chatting to him.


Ropen wowen from coconut husk.

TravelDiary TravelDiary

Choir rope making is an enterprising pastime for many island women. Although time consuming, its another income generating activity.

An old lady weaving thatch while reciting Quran at the same time. Photo: Michelle.

After about two hours, we slip away from the last inhabited island and head for the other reality of the Maldives, resort islands! After landing at Filitheyo Island Resort we head to the ‘back of house’ of the resort , to see the water purification plant and drinking water bottling house. Filitheyo turns salt water into drinking water that is more pure than bottled water! The water is bottled in the resort’s own glass bottles which are not only attractive but significantly reduces plastic waste. Filitheyo Island Resort had an impressive vegetable and herb garden, as well as tasty coffee that we quickly enjoyed before a call from the captain hurried us back to the boat. These are poorly chartered waters and it was best we

were settled in the safety of a harbor before night fell, rather than navigate dangerous reefs. Our visit to all inhabited islands and the only resort in Faafu Atoll is complete and we head straight to Nilandhoo.

ou Every h

se has

a well.

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This morning the fish drying process is in full swing with all stages there for us to not only see but smell! The dried fish on racks from yesterday have already been packed into sturdy bags ready for pick-up and export. Smoke billows gently out of one shed as a man and woman spread fish on a long rack that is placed over a small fire. The fish has already been boiled and needs to be smoked for at least 6 hours. Outside another man lays out smoked fillets on a rack to continue drying in the sun; Riya interprets my questions for him and I learn that the smaller fillets take 2-3 days to dry. Nothing is wasted in the process. The water that the fish is originally boiled in is now bubbling away over a fire for 5 to 6 hours to be turned into a thick, brown paste, Rihaakuru. Another Maldivian mealtime favourite! It’s Friday, the start of the weekend for the Maldives; there are people swimming in the turquoise waters of their lagoon and two women enjoy a sheesha under the shade of a coconut palm. At around 9am, we left Nilandhoo and began our journey to Male’, but there is one more island left to stop at, another resort island called Medhufushi in Meemu Atoll. We reached Medhufushi after 2 hours. Damon and I walk with Rifa to observe the treats that this resort has to offer. Every resort island is different and Medufushi offers a spectacular range of accommodation including two bungalows that hover alone over a shallow lagoon, accessed by boat only. Male’ is a long ride away and we have to reach there before dark, so we set off soon after lunch. There is time for a quick stop on a deserted island, little more than a tiny strip of sand that is being held together by trees and shrubs. Huge logs have washed up here after the 2004 tsunami, floating from some distant land. It’s a reminder that it is the ocean that connects this island nation to the rest of the world.

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Its normal to break a coconut and eat it during any time of the day.

This strange looking historical object was unearthed during an excavation. Many questions still remain unanswered about its significance

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TravelDiary I’d arrived in the Maldives expecting to be entranced by beautiful, palmfringed, white sand islands, but what I encountered was a country with so many more faces. Perhaps the Maldives is like a coconut. At its heart is warm, clear water that not only represents the ocean that swirls around its 1200 islands, but also holds the mix of events that have created and molded the Maldives; careful development and rapid change, ritual and modernization, tradition and open-mindedness. The fibre holding the coconut, or the country, together is the people; friendly, generous, happy, fun-loving and open, finding strength in family. I leave with a feeling of much deeper fascination for this unique country… and I simply can’t wait to return!

Beaching

a dhoni re

quires co

mmunal

power.

I leave with a feeling of much deeper fascination for this unique country… and I simply can’t wait to return! www.escalemaldives.com 129


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Through the lens of a photographer Text: Ahmed (Andhu), Photos by Ahmed Zahid

A

day, counting from sunrise to sunset, is merely a few hours in one’s life. One could witness so much happening within this short span of time. The photographer enters into the scene capturing the moments in his camera. Dawn fills the sky with a myriad of colours. Caught through the camera lens, one may sigh at mother nature’s wonders. Such breathtaking moments eternalised through the lens. Complete silence and nothing but colourful emptiness.

to rapher brings An avid photog t colourful ye , ne da un m life the life around the spots of, island elago. While ip Maldivian arch d to island, an isl m fro g in hopp e simple th ed ur pt ca he has in life and es iti tiv ac things and ct in our pa im al re enhanced its raphy og ot ph his lives. Through e an allusion/ ak m y sil ea n one ca y opical symphon imagine to a tr s at gin be y ftl so s as subtle tune in tempo and day break, rise ght; the finale ni e th to in fades composed four lly ra tu of this na ts. en musical movem

The first rays of the sun lights up the horizon, the island wakes up to the sound of a few birds. Everyone hurries to their routines and here it’s worth adding, us humans are so conditioned by routines. Its breakfast time, you could tell it from the smoke seeping from chimneys as the island unfurls with the sunrise. Purplish grey smoke filling the air. Only the woman of the house know what goes on in these kitchens, the preparations and hard work that makes the starting meal of the day. Morning has broken in the island as everyone; each one to their own rhythm, gets ready for the day. The roads seem quiet and peaceful, a photo match to please the eye or perhaps one that would come under still life. The rhythm of life gradually gains in tempo, but to the visitor this may only seem like a mellow tune. But such is life among the island folks, busy yet slow paced days. And there are those engaged in regular work or selfemployed in creative crafts. Many also spend time at the Holhuashi (a sitting and relaxation area at the beach where people gather to socialize. Usually, a simple construction of a platform under a hut.) A converging point for young and the elderly men. Women of these islands are much more modest and so it is not common for women to be mingling among men.

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Women are actively involved in many daily tasks around the island and homes.

La t be e af g t the in. A erno isla loc on is nd al wo “ba usua me shi” lly n. ga whe me n by spor ts

he at t ing en me erm Fish ning ho y, bring as. n r a retu f the d althy tu o e end es of h ch bun

Clicking away the camera, a theme so recurrent in the islands, emerges into the scene. Throughout the day women get busy with housekeeping and child minding. Normal for an average population but these multi-tasking women are admirable. Cooking, cleaning, washing, all these are part of daily life but then did anyone wonder how they manage it? Indeed all work requires planning; even the unplanned tasks become part of the naturally laid out schedule for the day. The beauty of it caught through the camera lens, unfolds the details of the beauty within this whole island environment. Air fills with dust and the rattling of these women are part of the larger background that makes the whole island tapestry a well woven picture.

Afternoon gradually moves in. Nothing but mere emptiness and for most part, the “unhappenings” are everywhere. The heat of the day at its peak is not an encouraging factor to be outdoors. A repetitive tune hums in the air. As the sun lowers and the air becomes cooler, the roads enliven again; what you see is affection for the land. Although a dying tradition, in some islands, road sweeping by the


TravelDiary A change in colour takes over the lagoon as fish blood spreads in the water. The fishermen carries silvery fish against a backdrop of a bloody lagoon to the vibrant daylight colours slowly fading away, revealing the darker shades as the sun disappears into the horizon. Streaks of orange, purple and red takes over the distant sky. It’s a calmer atmosphere, plunging into a meditative state as soon as the sunset call to the prayer fills the air. These folks live within a system that nature has so well planned to fit in their daily lives.

The slow afternoo beginning of th e n is emp ty and calm.

Sweeping pu blic areas by a dedicated gr oup of wom en. This is a regu lar activity for these island folks.

The sun rises wit h the ro call grad oste ually ligh tining up r’s sky in hu the es of ora nge, red and purp , yellow le.

A slow suns et transform s the colours along the ho riz

on.

sudden wave of crescendos fills the main streets taking over the lethargic afternoon.

al The arriv e is th is h T . ermen of the fish people gather by many , be it e er h w sh catch time see the fi y. to it os ch ri a the be st by cu hase or ju for purc

community women is still practised on a daily basis. Dedicated groups come out with their bunch of eekles (local brooms made out of the spine of the coconut leaves) dedicated for a noble task; sweeping the streets. It’s a passionate affair, one might think and yes, this is a time of socialising and updating on the day’s gossip. A

And it goes on late into daylight activities as fishermen returning home draw a most regular crowd by the shore. A surge of activity by the seaside as happy faces welcome their return: family, friends and curious faces. This may vary in different islands but one thing is common among all; unwritten procedures are so well practiced here that every individual in the scene knows exactly what is happening by the very minute. The unloading of fish, washing, cleaning, gutting, bargaining, selling etc. It’s a social gathering that paints a most typical aquarell of island life as fishermen haul ashore bunches of the fish from dhonis.

Gradually the island slows down. The streets, narrow roads and life become as peaceful as humming to a slow song. One would appreciate this time of the day as the simplicity of night life in the island has nothing else but tranquillity and peace to offer. This is where a soft melody begins. For the outsider it may be slow, very slow, whereas for the native, this is the time to pass in the company of family, friends or just sit somewhere lost in one’s own thoughts. Covered over with a blanket of darkness, electric bulbs light up the place. For me, this is the best moment on the island. No hurry for anything, no stress for time; why not take a leisurely stroll in the quietness of the evening? And all that happened in a day slowly begins to come to an end as you sense the night passing by. Approaching the finale of this well structured lifestyle, which I would aptly put as a tropical symphony, I could visualise the day coming towards the end. No surprises to it as the photographer confirms the same. Photos speak for themselves. The island life is full of elements to capture and each moment has a story to tell, interwoven with the next moment. Within this little village like community, it’s only a way of life, as folks accomplish their day to day errands. To the visitor this is merely a photographic event and for the imaginative mind, it’s a musical arrangement performed throughout the day, passing through its variations with the fall and rise of the tempo until the end, when the island falls into slumber.

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Development updates

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Addu Atoll becomes the second city of Maldives On 10th January 2011, President Nasheed declared Addu as the second city of Maldives. The status changed following the ratification of the decentralized act which creates administrative consituencies. This makes Addu Atoll one administrative area now called Addu City. Addu City is considered the second largest population centre in the Maldives although many of its inhabitants currently live in the capital Male’.

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Addu Convention Centre

In November 2011 Addu welcomed the delegates from the SAARC Region for the SAARC Summit. As part of preparations, the Addu Convention Centre was developed in Hithadhoo Island with all the necessary facilities. All works were carried out by a local contractor. The convention centre is considered as the largest building in Maldives.

17TH SAARC Summit

1

Maldives hosts the 17th SAARC Summit in Addu city. Building Bridges as the theme, the summit will bring together the heads of states of the SAARC region. As a result many side projects such as road developments are carried out and cultural events are organized by the respective countries and the people of the island.

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Cultural centre, Addu City 2

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1

A new cultural centre opens in Hithadhoo, Addu City. The center indulges you in a reverie of a historic Addu Atoll in the southern-most atoll of the Maldives untouched by the outside world. Witness the story of the people of Addu and experience the well-preserved sights, smells and sounds dating back as far as two-hundred years through the rich and unique spectra of Addu heritage and customs.

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Thimarafushi land reclamation

Thimarafushi in Thaa Atoll is currently undergoing a land reclamation and airport development project. Out of the 41 hectares, 31 hectares will be allocated to the airport alone. Once the project is completed the residential area will also be increased. The project is contracted to Hangsang of South Korea. 4

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Agenda 1

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Maldives first ever-private airport in Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili island.

FUVAHMULAH Airport opens

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Fuvahmulah in the south of Maldives can now be reached via air through the newly opened airport in the island. The airport construction was undertaken in record time and goes in to the history books as the airpot developed in the shoortest time period. A maiden flight lands at Fuvahmulah Airport on 31st October 2011. As soon as the aircraft landed people started shouting for joy, others started crying and some were taking pictures near the plane. Fuvahmulah residents gathered around 3.35pm at the airport, which had been built in the island after years of expectations.

It was a new dawn for the people of Maamingili island as the first flight landed on the runway. A well-known businessman, Mr. Qasim Ibrahim who developed the airport is happy that this newly opened airport has now become a dream come true for the people of the island. This also opens an opportunity to fly direct to the island, reaching faster to the atoll and catching subsequent connections to nearby islands by sea.

FLYME is the latest airline to begin operations in the Maldives.

FLYME began its operations on the first of October 2011 with its maiden voyage ending on the newly developed Maamigili airport. The flight carried some 16 tourists, the Chairman of Villa Group and members of his family. Although its current operations will be within Maldives, Villa Air will look into expanding its operations internationally.

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Resort updates Floating golf course in Maldives

The Government of Maldives has signed a contract with Dutch Docklands of the Netherlands to develop a floating golf course and hotel in the Maldives. These floating centres are expected to attract more tourists to Maldives where golf centres are hard to find due to lack of space. ”Most of our resorts do not have a golf centre due to lack of space,” Press Secretary Zuhair said, noting that golf has a good market in the world.

1

Alilas Villa Hadaha becomes Park Hyatt Maldives

7

The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadaha Island began its operations in early 2011. Previously known as Alila Villas Hadaha, the resort is situated in North Huvadhoo Atoll and gained prestigious recognitions such as Condé Nast Traveler’s 2010 Hot Hotels, Condé Nast Traveler’s Best New Spas in 2010, and 2010 Destin Asian Luxe List’s 41 Best New Hotels of the Year. A total of 50 luxury villas all designed to accommodate the most discerning guest.

3

Maguhdhuvaa becomes Ayada Maldives 2

5

Ayada Maldives opened in October 2011. Owned by Aydeniz Group which was awarded Europe’s Leading Tourism Development Company 2010 and Asia’s Leading Inward Tourism Development Company 2010 at the World Travel Award, the hotel comes with an opulent 112 villas. A variety of restaurants brings with it fine cuisines and a most adventurous dining experience, be it by the ocean or under the stars. Ayada features a 3,500sqm Spa, Hyrobath and a spacious relaxation lounge, all that in addition to the fitness centre and water sports.

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Dusit Thani Maldives

3

Dusit International, one of Asia’s leading hotel groups, has announced that they will be opening their first resort in the Maldives, during December 2011. The new Dusit property is located in Mudhdhoo Island, northwest of Malé in Baa Atoll, just a short 40 minute sea plane ride from Malé or a 10 minute speedboat ride from the new domestic airport. According to Dusit, the island has an area of approximately 186,000 square metres, and will be composed of 100 villas, 1 spa and 3 restaurants and bars as well as other utilities relating to the resort business.

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National flag carrier Mega Maldives to connect Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa direct with Hong Kong.

A non-stop six hour flight from Hong Kong to Gan island direct will now bring tourists to Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa, in the south of Maldives. The flight, a 257-seat Boeing 767 operated by Mega Global is the national flag carrier which connects East Asia to Maldives with plans on expanding to more destinations in the near future. The Shangri-La connection will be scheduled for every five days.

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Agenda Four Seasons Resort Maldives at KudaHuraa Named “Best of the Best” 5

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa scooped the top award at the Condé Nast Traveller 14th annual Readers’ Travel Awards: The Best of the Best in the World’s Top 100, after being named Best Overseas Leisure Hotel in the Middle East, Africa & Indian Ocean. Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa has also hosted the inaugural Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy and is already gearing up to make 2012 its best year yet. (Press Kit, Four Seasons Resort, 15 September 2011).

Viceroy to open its first resort outside US

Viceroy Maldives is the first hotel under its brand to open outside US. Set amidst the blue of the Indian Ocean, the hotel can be reached in just less than an hour by flight from the capital. Its a resort destination not to be missed with pristine waters, several dining options including a Tree House and the spa. The hotel is located where tourism has just recently been introduced, in the island of Vagaru in Shaviyani Atoll. 7 6

Bolifushi becomes Jumeira Vittaveli

In what was previously known as Bolifushi Resort in Kaafu Atoll, today has been totally transformed into a luxury resort to carry the brand name of the Dubai based group Jumeira. With its 90 water villas and suites, Jumera Vittaveli becomes yet another luxury destination for its brand loyal clientele looking forward to spending their vacation in Maldives. Jumeira Vittaaveli comes with a simple look in a sophisticated elemets. Bolifushi is expected to open in end of 2011.

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Environment updates UNDP hands over pearl culture project to Thulhaadhoo community Expanding into new areas of business, the people of Thulhaidhoo island embarked on a new enterprising activity, pearl culture. What began as a joint venture, established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture is now handed over to the island’s co-operative society. The pearl culture project was first launched in 2008.

The 2011 Earth Day at Coco Palm Bodu Hithi The event attracted an environmentally conscious group of tourists to contribute to its coral reef regeneration efforts. The staff and clients of the resort actively joined the event that was headed by a team from Water Solutions. The activity which lasted for about an hour is a sign of continuing efforts put in a similar event initiated in 2010. Individuals in snorkels and masks, assisted by the WS team, swam with their fragments or corals tying one by one.

Use of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) as source of energy Dhiraagu, one the two telecom service operators in Maldives and the longest service provider, is going green. With stations in 174 islands, it hopes to provide 10 percent of the total energy requirements, coming from renewable energy sources. Dhiraagu hopes to make 30% of its energy requirement from renewable energy sources in the future, an even more ambitious step towards greener initiatives having employed Solar PV for more than 22 years.

Students learning Hydroponics Over the past decade hydroponics has made its way through the local agriculture, especially in tourist resorts. Its latest footprints were made on Maradhoo-Feydhoo island in Addu Atoll when the UK based Little Growers Foundation jointly conducted a project with the local distributor of Autopot Hydroponics Systems, Mahadheebu. Students from the Environment club of Maradhoo-Feydhoo school will learn and carry out hydroponics to grow fruits and vegetables using hydroponics.

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Books, DVD’s, maps

Title: “Maps of Maldives, The complete guide to the atolls and islands of Maldives”

Title: Above Maldives. A photographic journey over the atolls and islands of Maldives

Publisher: Water Solutions, water-solutions.biz Year: 2008 Size: A4, paper back No of pages: 120

Publisher: Atoll Images, atollimages.com Year: 2009 Size: 210 mm by 280 mm, hard cover No of pages: 96

What’s it about? This book is the first of its kind completely researched and developed by Maldivians. The book contains detailed maps of all the atolls, in English and Dhivehi. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the book online.

What’s it about? A new concept featuring satellite photos of the islands of Maldives. This book will be useful for many people. Contains more than 96 satellite photos of different islands. Visit www.atoll-images. com to check the book online.

Title: The Complete Guide to Male’. Year: 2007 Size: A5, paper back No of pages: 120 A guide book exclusively on MALE’. Includes information on Hulhumale’ and Villingili as well. This is the first and most comprehensive guide book on Male’. This 142 page book will be the ideal companion while in Male’. Visit www.atoll-images. com to check the book online.

Title: “Dangerous Marine Animals - Biology, Injuries & Treatment” Published Year: 2009 Whats it about?: Size: A5, paper back No of pages: 84 What’s it about? It provides information for medical doctors about the wide range of injuries which can be inflicted by marine organisms. Secondly, swimmers, snorkelers and divers will find information about the biology of dangerous, venomous and poisonous marine animals. Visit www.atoll-images. com to check the book online.

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Goalhi

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Ahmadhee Bazaar Area

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Republic Square

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STO Trade Center

Royal

Kolige Umar Maniku Goalhi

Goalhi

Collection Souvenir Dhivehi Boutique Shop No4 (Sou Ibrahim venir) Hassan Unixpo Didi Mag Jewelry u Reef (elec Side 1 Najah Art tronics) Palace Habib Bank

STO Elect ronics Dive Gear Dhivehi (Dive Gear ) (Souvenir Bandaha s) Atoll surf (Water sport) ics) ctron Kaashi ys (Ele Boat (Sou ena ree Gu venirs) Dhafe Th Trade City souvenirs Manthiri Bharat electro Dhanb Bless 2 u Goalh (Sou nics venirs) i Gloria ute s) Blue Astoria Mar Rep smetic Too Cute (Co E&P Son is (Souvenir Athakuri (Jewelry) s) ics (Souvenir tron are) Farivaa Electronics Neu itew s) Typical MHA (Wh Shop souvenirs Target 1 Bayw Fariva Quartz Albion Chandelie atch (cloth re (Hard dwa s) Target Star Jewe ware) Rio Bout r (Stationa AS Har ls (Jew DAM r Tronics ique (souv ry) elry) ELL Mobile Telecom Water Supetronics) enirs) World Electronic (Elec (Dive Olive E&P s Gear) Garden (Electroni Body Parkway cs & Perfu Glove Fresh Air me) shop

Orchid

Discover

Male’

2

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Discover

Addu City Explore this historically rich and beautiful city with Escale Maldives

Explore this vibrant city with Escale Maldives

Magu

Nine Ten O trade Laasaany e trad y MINI Jeweller IGM (souvenir) The reef Time Golden ts/bulb) een (ligh Eigth Traders) Asrafee (Tobacco Root id e) Pyrm Jam (Div Aqua Fihaara Hazash

1 Reef side (watches)

May 2011

CHA

Medhuziyaaraiy

Fareedhee Magu uters Focus Comp

Hardware Fahamas

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Island Waveuruzu Hig Aab

Hamesedia Clothing) (Men Monalals a Blue Estori (Furniture) Parkway

Salsa Café

Canary

Herblife

Eye Care

Ritzy Electronics Bhaarat trade Link Serve Timex Diplomat

on FDI Stati

NDH

Faamudheyri

ANE

Magu

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MA

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Asha Textiles DhalaTextiles Vaaly Brothers

Magu

Seagull Café Dhiraagu Teleshop

Seagull foods Sissy Sea Sports (surf shop)

Magu

ALIKILEGEFAANU MAGU SHOPPING AREA Rainbow Office Systems

Rainbow Furniture Dhonhiyala Home (Curtains / Home decor)

3 4 5

Asna Tech

Title: Maldives - The Last paradise, 2nd Edition

Title: Maldives - The Beauty of Underwater

Produced & Directed By: Tombe, Image Village Studio Year: 2010 Price : US$ 20 Rted Edition

Produced & Directed By: Tombe, Image Village Studio Year: 2010 Price : US$ 20 Rted Edition

What’s it about? This DVD film is a documentary style travel guide by Image Village Studio. It is a fantastic introduction to the Maldives and also serves as a souvenir. The new edition will be available in English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French, Italian and German. For wholesale call +960 9868497 or email: tombe2020@ hotmail.com or visit www. imagevillagestudio.com.

What’s it about? Maldives, The Beauty of Underwater is a film about snorkeling and diving. The film includes more than 90% underwater videos. The new edition will be available in English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French, Italian and German. For wholesale call +960 9868497 or email: tombe2020@ hotmail.com or visit www. imagevillagestudio.com.

Rehendhi (Dress / garments)

Highway (Designer Wear) Blow (Designer Wear)

Did

Rainbow (Buildware) College (Designer Wear) Spark 1 Time Zone (Designer wear) Cool Casual Dress Point

www.atoll-images.com Lakme

138

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2012 ISSUE

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atoll-images.com

Title: Discover Male’

Title: Discover Addu City

Publisher: Atoll Images, atollimages.com Year: 2010 Size: A1

Publisher: Atoll Images, atollimages.com Year: 2010 Size: A3 foldable map

What’s it about? An A1 size foldable map of Male’ with tons of useful information for anyone visiting Male’. Also contains an alphabetical list of all the important land marks, restaurant, hotels etc. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the map online.

What’s it about? An A3 size foldable map of Addu City’ road names, bus routes, dive spots and historical places in this unique geographical area of Maldives. The book features detailed maps of all the island of Addu City. Retail price is US$3. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the map online.


Palagama Beach, Northwest Sri Lanka

Eversince Discover Maldives was first published in 2009, it has been reaching to a wider public day by day. DM has now moved beyond many frontiers and has positioned itself internationally as the no. 1 destination travel magazine on Maldives. Today it is very much appreciated by readers from all walks of life, especially those who are keen to visit Maldives.

Discovering Maldives by Big Ben

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Excited readers in London

Near a security checkpoint, Sri lanka

Baker street

Colombo city three wheel drivers Discovering Maldives.

Locals beaching a boat. Sea plane pilot taking a break.


On the way to picnic island

Yoga time at a luxury resort.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Fisherman in Northwest Sri Lanka.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Excited readers in London

Time out, dhoni crew

Security guard at Herethere resort.

Billy Mills, 1964, 10,000 meters Olympic Gold Medalist and wife Addu City flying school.

French Navy Ship FS Mistral in Maldivian waters

Local Picnicers at Kuda Bandos.

Tourists arrive Hanimaadhoo airport

Maldivian pilot during their stopover.

Waiter in a resort.


Photo by Amoooo

escalemaldives.com

Discover Maldives 2012 issue  

2012 issue of Discover Maldives comes with new and interesting articles about Maldives for the traveler. This issue will also provide insigh...

Discover Maldives 2012 issue  

2012 issue of Discover Maldives comes with new and interesting articles about Maldives for the traveler. This issue will also provide insigh...

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