Tiger Sharks Diving in Fuvahmulah
Maldives Scuba Diving Guide
For casual marine life lovers, the predominant image of Maldivian waters, in addition to the colorful coral-reef ecosystems, can offer manta rays and whale sharks. This prospect annually attracts thousands of people to the archipelago. Nevertheless, the Maldives is another unusual, although less well-known adventure, and it is electrified enough to provide a good dose of adrenaline for the most experienced divers - diving with tiger sharks.
Characterized by dark strips on their body, "Sea Tigers" inhabit coastal tropical and subtropical waters. Known as the "scavengers of the ocean" for their ability to devour everything, tiger sharks are also considered the second most dangerous after the Big White, based on statistics of recorded shark attacks.
These cannibals are not new in the Maldives; they can be found on some atolls, such as the Kaafu and South Huvadhoo. However, most of the contacts are successful observations of the "passing" sharks. For divers who specifically look for the lair of tiger sharks, one island has recently become more popular, as the ideal place for regular spotting of sea tigers in the Maldives is Fuvahmulah.
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Fuvahmulah is a Seclusive Nursery
Geography Fuwamulah makes it the only site of its kind in the Maldives. One island atoll, it is located to the south of the equator. Without other land massifs nearby, unique samples of ocean currents around Fuwamulah make it a unique cleaning station and nursery for a variety of pelagic fish, including tiger sharks.
Although the exact number of tiger sharks in Fuhvamulah is unknown, some believe that the population may be about 200 adults.
"We have identified about 40 tiger sharks," says the leading diving instructor at the Fuvahmulah Dive School (November 2017).
The diving school, which was certified by Scuba Schools International (SSI), conducts underwater marine life research over the past six months around the extensive Fuvahmulah reef. Fuvahmulah Dive team is those who recently found and developed a special dive site "Tiger's Zoo", where tiger sharks can be observed all year round.
Since its inception, this site has attracted almost all local diving veterans, for the rare opportunity to swim next to a predator that may have been called one of the most dangerous.
Beautiful and Cold-Blooded
"Tiger Zoo" was the first acquaintance with the tiger shark for Mohamed Zenin, a professional diver with almost 20 years of experience.
"The whole dive was just frightening," he told Mihaaru, describing him as the best thing to see after the Big White.
He visited Fuhvamulah in early October with another veteran-diver, Adam Rashid. Although this was not the first time for Adam, he also declared tiger sharks "one of the best impressions" in his career. For the duo, this was the main tick in their bucket list.
"The fun from diving with a tiger shark is that when you see it and do not feel fear, you can appreciate its beauty. It's a really beautiful shark, "Adam said, and Seenon nodded in agreement. "... it's not like anything else."
One of the most famous names in the diving industry in the Maldives, Hussein "Sendi" Rashid, also repeated the mood. After his visit to Fuvahmulah in the middle of October, Sandy said that the tiger sharks are "terrific for observation". Absolutely unique experience.
Sendy, Adam and Zenin observed four tiger sharks during their dives, some of which were up to three or four meters long. But some divers, according to the reports of the latter, saw in one place up to 14 or 19 sharks.
"Usually, during diving we see gray reef sharks, whitetips and hammer sharks, but they do not make you worry," Seeneen said. "Tiger sharks give rise to a completely different feeling - as if you always have to look around, be careful."
To see a tiger sharks family, a great luck in the life of a diver, but nevertheless this experience is not for everyone. Ibrahim Shiyan from Fuvahmulah Dive stated that in Tiger's Zoo the center allows divers only with certain experience, mainly for security reasons. Adam and Zenin gave one more look at this question: "Before you go to tiger sharks, you need to see and experience other sights of the Maldives' underwater world because for an amateur diver - it will just be another fish. Only an experienced diver can fully appreciate and enjoy the fact how special this shark is. "
Best Precautions - Respect
The idea that these territorial predators come to feed on the shallow reefs and in Fuvamulah's lagoon give rise to fear for many because of the bad reputation of these aggressive cannibals. Nevertheless, local divers claim that this reputation should be taken with a great deal of skepticism.
"Nothing in the ocean thinks of man as his prey," Sandy says.
Fuvahmulah Dive and Adam both explained that the natural curiosity of tiger sharks is the only thing that can attract them to a diver. According to them, the best precaution is to respect tiger sharks without invading their territory or provoking them to attack.
"They're not really pretty sharks," Adam laughs. "There is a certain respect that you owe them."
Adam and Seeneen highly appreciated the dive from Fuvahmulah Dive for the rigorous instruction that they give to all divers before excursions with tiger sharks. In addition to strict "pros and cons", Fuvahmulah Dive keeps divers in jagged gloves warning against close contact with the tiger shark that comes too close for a comfortable acquaintance, as well as provide diving excursions by experienced guides to control the situation.
The Need for Close Regulation
For such a remote island, which was cut off from mass tourism for a long time, tiger sharks are one of its most important sights. Tatyana Ivanova, managing director of Fuvahmulah Dive admitted that Tiger's Zoo is one of the main assets of the promotion of Fuvahmulah, while Ibrahim Shiyan showed that at the moment the school also accepts tourists from China, Russia, Italy and the UK.
"Diving with tiger sharks is a good draw for tourists," Sandy said, noting that the availability of the first can bring a lot of income to Fuvahmulah. At the same time, he stressed that this pleasure should be carefully regulated, urging the authorities to cooperate with dive centers to ensure protection of both humans and tiger sharks.
"In the history of the Maldives, there was no shark attack on a divers," he said, revealing that more than 450,000 tourists were immersed in the archipelago in 2015. "But we need to maintain ethics and principles. Otherwise, we can get a bad, negative impact."
He also stressed that recreational divers can not fully understand the behavior of the tiger sharks and therefore take the necessary measures. He warned that having only one incident could affect not only the diving industry, but also the entire tourism sector.
More to Explore, Discover, Experience
The charm of Fuvahmulah goes beyond the local population of tiger sharks. According to Fuvahmulah Dive, the island's house reef, much of which remains unexplored, boasts all kinds of sharks found in the Maldives, as well as a variety of endemic species and pelagic fish such as manta rays and in particular thresher sharks.
Tatiana Ivanova described the thresher sharks as "a real treasure", as they represent an isolated species that is difficult to meet in the ocean. Almost the only known place in the world that sees thresher sharks every day is near the Malapaskua island in the Philippines. However, Fuvahmulah as a cleaning station also attracts these sharks, and they can be seen all year round here; An exciting prospect for diving in Fuvahmulah. The scuba diving school has already gathered a large base of its results.
"We will continue to conduct our underwater research and take responsibility for the rules and regulations that should be followed during diving with predators in the open ocean," said Tatyana.
Fuvahmulah Dive hopes to expand its research and activities in the future, attracting more locals and tourists for diving. The center was officially approved by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) in late October 2017.
"We are going to promote Fuvahmulah as one of the best places for diving in the world."
Fuvahmulah is an island-atoll in the Maldives. Located on the equator between the two southern atolls of Addu and Huvadhu, Fuvahmulah is the unique and most beautiful island in the country - it is rock in the middle of open ocean. Unlike the two thousand islands of the Maldives archipelago, which are coral reefs, Fuhvamulah is of volcanic origin, which makes it more similar to the Indonesian islands of Bali or Gili. With lush tropical vegetation, mango landscapes, coconut palms, papaya plantations and various kinds of flowers, Fuwamulah is the only island in the Maldives with freshwater lakes. The island's treasure is the unique white Thundi pebble beach, which is on the list of ten unique beaches of the world. For millions of years, under the influence of ocean currents, unique reef formations and several types of pebbles were formed.
The island annually opens new guest houses, modern lodges and budget-friendly hotels for international tourism. Comfortable rooms are equipped with air conditioning, flat-screen cable TVs, safes, DVD players, fans, and some have iPod docking stations. The rooms also have a kettle, a minibar, tea and coffee making facilities and free Wi-Fi. READ MORE
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