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I travelled out to the Maldives as a result of BSoUP's 2012 "Splash-in" competition, joining the MV Sea Spirit and its faithful dhoni to cruise the well-travelled but surprisingly interesting Thilas and channels of Ari Atoll.

 

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The boat looks small, until you realise that all the dive gear stays on the dhoni with the compressor and Nitrox. It's actually as comfortable as the much bigger and superficially more impressive boats that ply the Red Sea and Indonesian waters.

 

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There are still shoals of fish, sharks of all kinds (somewhat oppressed by crowds if they venture too close to the bigger resort islands), rays, turtles and pretty reefs, largely, I suspect, because of the intermittently fierce currents that squirt in and out of the atolls.

 

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For a routine trip, this was something of an eye-opener!

 

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More images:

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/timsdiving/sets/72157643891843663/

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A productive trip Tim - enjoyed your photos. The whale shark/snorkellers trip is not a pretty sight and reminds me of a similar situation I encountered about five yera ago when I took my wife on a whale shark snorkelling trip from Vilamendhoo in Ari Atoll. When we got on site there were eight boats from other islands and snorkellers all over the place in quite choppy water. The boats were surging around trying to drop their groups in front of a shark and how somebody didn't get minced I don't know. It was extremely dangerous and our boat actually collided with another which prompted our skipper to give up. It was a complete circus all in the name of money and no thought for the animals. I felt ashamed to have taken part & I'll never do it again.

Your shot of the snappers coming forward under the overhang is a stunner for me.

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The whale shark/snorkellers trip is not a pretty sight ...

 

Luckily there was only a single boat of snorkellors, and that particular whale shark (one of five that appeared within an hour) was cool about the crowds...

 

... the other sharks swam off; perhaps they had more sense?

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We just returned from South Ari, was shocked how one of The Manta points (Bojhamadi) sometimes had up to 8 Safari boats moored up and it was like a football stadium around the previously empty coral block the mantas come to get cleaned.

 

No current and reef hooks applied without any consideration, we were also pretty sure that one boat had dropped something into the water so their divers could see some sharks as greys and white tips at 4m depth is pretty unusual!

 

Great photos though!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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