Snorkelling ALIFU Atoll
04.02.2016 - 05.02.2016 33 °C
TURTLE REEF AND VILEMENDOO REEF
Don and I arrange for our host Nesh to take us out in his boat to some nearby snorkelling sites. It is a superb way to explore the reefs in solitude. First we head out to turtle reef and I have the pleasure to video a Giant Moray Eel almost totally out of its den and then to swim side by side with a friendly green turtle and get some marvellous video footage with my Go Pro. Unfortunately there is not enough band width here to upload the footage. It sometimes takes over 15 minutes just to log in. Next we head over to Vilemendhoo Reef which is known as one of the better snorkel areas on the Maldives. We do a drift snorkel with the current for an hour. The reef is alive with coral dropping off the shelf and we get lost in its underwater beauty. Then we head over to the outer reef circling the atoll. It is too rough to snorkel the outside so we drift the shallow inner edge with some more interesting corals. It is a day well spent, each site within 15 minutes of Dhangethi.
SWIMMING WITH A WHALE SHARK
Don, Erik, Nesh and I head off to the southern tip of the atoll in search of whale sharks. They are the biggest shark species averaging 10 meters in length and weighing an average of 9 tons, but are totally harmless to humans. We charter the high speed local water taxi (with two 200 horsepower motors) and cross the atoll in 30 to 40 minutes. We skirt the outer edge of the reef joining up with 3 other boats and finally sight one. Over the side and we are swimming along side the beast. The whale shark is barely moving, just a relaxed swish of the tail every so often but they swim against the current and we can barely keep up. When we fall behind our boat comes alongside, throws a trailing rope over and we catch and hold on and it revs the engines and drags us through the water until we are alongside again. The whale shark is like a living entity from a different world primordial in nature. I try to relax and savour the moment but one cannot tarry or one gets left behind. After Half an hour it slips into the deep, We patrol the coast some more but no others appear and we head back home.
Today is Friday, the school holiday. Everyone goes to the Mosque in the morning and again at noon. School is closed and nothing's open till after 2. Then the kids come out and play, young moms take their kids to the beach or sit chatting in the shade. They graciously allow me to photograph them. Many of the men still work cleaning leaves, or go fishing or sit in the shade and talk. Life is pretty laid back. The only activity is at the playground where the young kids play on the play equipment and the local Bangladesh workers play a rousing game of soccer (barely breaking into a sweat in the 33 C. sun), or on the dock where the monthly supply ship comes in and unloads staples and the twice a week vessel brings fresh produce and fruit to be distributed from the local co-op. Later in the day Nesh invites us to tea and we sit in the shade of the beachfront watching the sun go down. Life here could get addictive.