One week on the isolated island of Landaa Giraavaru. Completely immersed in the laidback island life, we had a lot of time to observe the amazing flora and fauna around us. We encountered avian and marine creatures on a daily basis and their stories are so endearing that I just had to dedicate a post to them. Here are some of my favourite creatures of Maldives.
There was Yello the young lemon shark who was part of the welcome party when we first got to the island. We spotted him swimming in the shallow waters around the jetty while disembarking from our speedboat. On numerous occasions, he amused us with his antics while chasing a school of tiny anchovy-like fish.
That evening, we were having a quiet drink at the resort’s Sea Bar. The bar overlooks the surrounding shallow waters and at one point, I thought I saw one of the rocks moving. I dismissed the thought as the effect of alcohol but it actually turned out to be Bob, the stingray! The bartender informed us that Bob was the largest in the group of stingrays that frequented the waters around the bar.
The next morning, I woke up fairly early thanks to my jet lag. I stepped outside our villa and spotted Buddy the heron, waiting patiently in the water to snap up his breakfast. I saw him every morning thereafter, always alone. Hubby and I joked once about finding him a mate from the neighbouring islands.
Here’s Shelly the hermit crab who so graciously posed for a close-up. Isn’t she a beauty???!!! We felt really bad to have disturbed her from the crab meeting she was hosting.
On our many strolls along the island’s sandbar, we spotted terns with teal underbellies swooping into the water to catch their meal. I thought to myself ‘Here’s a species I’ve never seen before’, only to realise that the blue was just the reflection of the turquoise waters on their immaculate white bodies. Ha!
Then there were all the colourful reef fish we hobnobbed with during our snorkelling trips. The most distinctive of which was the unicorn fish, named after the pointed growth between its eyes.
Saving the best for last, the main reason we were in the Maldives – the giant manta rays. Our second day on the island, we rushed to Hanifaru Bay (part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll) to get a glimpse of what can only be described as a mesmerising display of under-water ballet. These huge, carpet sized mantas circled around us in a magical dance as they fed on the plankton rich waters. As I watched their playful yet immensely graceful movements, my fears gave way to awe and amazement. Despite their size, manta rays are absolutely harmless to humans.
Of course, there are many creatures whose pictures we didn’t manage to take. Some were just too fast for us or just plain camera shy. The lone spinner dolphin chasing his meal during our sunset cruise or the black tip reef shark cruising outside our breakfast restaurant. There was also the stealthy moorhen that frolicked in our villa’s swimming pool from time to time.
Well, what can I say? I felt lucky to have spent time in the midst of nature’s splendour, oblivious of our gadgets and real lives. I leave you with some more of the real stars of our Maldives trip.
For more on my experience of swimming with the magnificent Maldivian mantas, check out my post Underwater Ballet in the Maldives.
Want to know more about Maldivian cuisine? Here are 100 fabulous ways to eat tuna in the Maldives 😉
The spectacular seaplane ride from Male to the island of Landaa Giraavaru, needs a special mention. Check out my post Magic in the water!