Sunday, 14 June 2015

You asked for sharks!

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Well, I asked for it.

After two days of snorkelling on colourful coral reefs full of all the common aquarium fish yet all but devoid of predator species, I threw our guide, Teddy, the challenge. "Show me some sharks!"

His soft round face, darkened with the constant Maldivian sun, looked back at me. "Okay, I know where we might see some," and he disappeared to have a consultation with Mosa, our captain.

That afternoon we arrived at Alimatha Resort, catering to Italians in the Felidha Atoll group, two clusters below Male, where we has flown in the day before. Giovanni at the dive shop advised me that the day dives were not very good due to adverse currents. "You come come back tonight for the night dive." And the deal was done.



Armed with powerful hand torches we dropped in just a hundred metres or so away from the resort jetty and descended to about a ten metres, a shallow dive by normal standards. Our torch beams probed the darkened reef and soon the telltale shapes of large sharks appeared in our view.

There was hardly any time to define friend or foe and in no time we were engulfed by the pack and surrounded by schooling nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum), the biggest measuring easily three metres from nose to tail. A bold and curious stringray came in close to check us out and wild-eyed giant trevally darted through every gap in the underwater melee.



Clearly these brazen animals were familiar with humans in their realm as they nudged us and brushed past, their fins running eerily along the full length of my body. One particularly large beast propped in front of me as if to challenge, his gummy face filling the screen of my camera. In the end, I placed my hand firmly behind his eye and pushed against him before he reluctantly yielded and let me pass. The few black-tipped reef sharks, small by comparison, patrolled the fringes, not game to test their luck in the frenzy that followed us along our path through the reef.

Even as we sat on back deck afterwards, a pair of large sharks hung around the stern of our dhoni in anticipation of an evening snack as if to reaffirm my wish ".... you wanted sharks!"

from ExpeditionCruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, travelling with World Expeditions in the Maldives.