Environment Tourism

An Abundance of Turtles in The North Ari Atoll

When I found out that I would be returning to the Maldives, the thing that excited me most was that I would be able to once again do some truly unbelievable snorkelling.

On my previous trip to the Maldives I had been amazed and astonished by the variety and sheer abundance of ocean creatures that could be seen just a few metres from the shore. I will admit, the coral in these reefs is far from being the most colourful I have ever seen (Timor-Leste gets that trophy) but there is nowhere else in the world where I have seen sharks, stingrays and turtles – all in less than an hour!

So, it should not be surprising that once I arrived at Kandolhu, throwing on some flippers and donning a snorkel was pretty high on my list of priorities!

There are thousands and thousands of reefs in the Maldives – many of which are extremely shallow. This is great news for people who don’t scuba dive, because it means that they can still view a huge amount of wildlife using only a snorkel.

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Whilst exploring the Kandolhu house reef, I spotted loads of colourful anemones swishing around with the sea currents. I love these anemones, they just look so soft and squishy!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

I also saw a veritable tonne of these strange fellas!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

When you look at them from the side, they appear quite skinny…

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

…but from above they look relatively wide!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

They were also some of the most curious fish I have ever come across. They would swim right up to my hands and face to check me out, and wouldn’t flinch or swim away when I got closer to them.

If anyone knows what species of fish these guys are, please let me know in the comments!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Another thing I love about anemones – you never know what treasure is hiding inside!

Some may appear to be uninhabited…

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

…whilst others are home to beautiful little clownfish!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

There are just so many different types of fish living amongst these reef systems, you never know what you will come across next!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Speaking of not knowing what you will come across next, there I was, enjoying my snorkel and the incredible aquamarine wonderland on offer, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, I came face to face with this stunning creature!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

I had not known it, but apparently the North Ari Atoll is renowned for having a pretty substantial population of sea turtles! In fact, I later discovered that on this tiny house reef alone there are about 8 turtles who have settled in and made it their home!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

I ended up floating around on the surface for quite a while watching Mister Turtle moving around amongst the coral.

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

At the time I wasn’t quite sure what I was waiting for, I just knew that I needed to stick around.

Then, after only a little while, Mister Turtle began to move away from the coral, and seemed to be looking towards the surface.

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Then, all of a sudden, up he went!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

After a few breaths, off he went back down to the safety of the coral. I have since learned that sea turtles need to feel very safe and comfortable in order to move to the surface and breathe, so it was an experience that I feel extremely privileged to have had.

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkellingThe ultimate photobomb!

Then, just as soon as I had said goodbye to Mister Turtle, another turtle appeared, seemingly out of nowhere!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

This one looked a fair bit smaller and had a much cleaner shell, so I’d hazard a guess that it was a much younger one.

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

After a little while I found myself coming up towards a jetty, and I honestly never expected to see such a massive school of jackfish, but there they were, circling around without a care in the world.

I had only seen jackfishes once before, near El Nido in the Philippines; these ones were a bit smaller than their Filipino counterparts, but were still impressively large – much more than this next picture conveys.

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

After leaving the jackfishes and the shade of the jetty, this absolutely gorgeous white-tip reef shark swam right underneath me!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

I absolutely adore sharks, in fact, when I was little I dreamt of growing up to become a shark specialising marine biologist!

As a result of being a shark enthusiast from early on in life, being close to sharks doesn’t scare me or frighten me in the least!

I could immediately spot that although this shark was a good 1.5m long, it was a harmless and chilled out white-tip, nothing for anybody to be scared of – just to be excited by!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Seriously, how magnificent does he/she look?!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Once I could feel my sunscreen wearing off and my pale skin starting to singe, I gently swam back to the jetty so that I could get out, dry off and seek some shade; however, just as I was going to exit the water, I spotted this little octopus curled up right next to the jetty stairs – pretty cool right?

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

Later that night I returned to the water to do a little bit of night snorkelling!

Now unfortunately it was so dark that my camera was unable to take any really good shots – especially of anything moving quickly – but the snorkel itself was absolutely amazing.

I spotted a stingray, a whole bunch of sharks, a sleeping turtle, a few pufferfish…

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

…a ridiculous amount of teeny tiny fish that were attracted to the light emanating from my torch…

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

…a sleeping parrotfish…

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

…and even a moray eel!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

I had returned to the Maldives so hopeful that the snorkelling would be just as good as I remembered, and unsurprisingly, I was not disappointed.

I love the Maldives!

maldives-travel-blog-kandolhu-turtle-underwater-snorkelling

 

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