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  1. Just came back from my forth trip to the Maldives (last time almost 8 years ago). This year I was on MV Theia, a quite comfortable liveaboard (but without enough proper places for camera storage, and no Nitrox), on a 10 day trip. We encountered some problems in the beginning, due to a broken engine of the dive vessel ("Dhoni"), which caused a start delayed by two days. The rest of the trip was nice, including encounters with whalesharks and some very nice dives with manta rays at channels in the western side of Ari Atoll. You can see some of my images here (hope you enjoy): My current impressions of the Maldives as a diving destination are as follows: - still a good combination of pelagics, some nice reefs and good macro shooting opportunities, all this in very warm waters - unfortunately, most of the touristic islands are now suffering from the epidemic of water bungalows, resulting in a strong impact on the formerly idyllic landscape - shark populations dramatically smaller than 8 years ago, presumably due to still strongly ongoing finning - where I frequently used to see groups of maybe 10 grey reef sharks, now you are lucky to see one or two - many dive sites crowded (even in low season) - at some sites that used to be beautiful (e.g., Fish Head) we saw groups of 30 Asian tourists at "discover scuba diving" sessions, not having any bouyancy skills at all - Fish Head and Maaya Thila now almost destroyed I might be too spoiled as a diver already, therefore commenting a bit harsh, but maybe this will help somebody to plan for the next diving vacations. And I would wish the clock had stopped 15 years ago, when the Maldives used to be quite simple, but with beautiful reefs full of life. Coral bleaching hit them hard in the past, but finning and kind of touristic development are their own responsibility. Merry christmas, everyone. Gazpacho
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