The Indian Monsoon Current flowing through the Maldives has created plankton-rich water flows between the islands, which in turn support the development of a rich marine ecosystem. However, the low-lying coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to rising sea levels. The warm waters of the islands also attract large number of divers from all over the world. With all this in mind, the regulation of diving in the Maldives is quite strict.
There are two distinct seasons in the Maldives. The drier season (from December to April) is characterized by the Northeast Monsoon and the current flowing from the northeast to the southwest. However, at full moon, the tide – which runs from the west when the tide rises and from the east when the tide falls – can affect the flow and the current can change direction. In the drier season, the current is typically faster at the beginning of the monsoon and decreases as the season progresses. The water temperature is fairly consistent throughout the region, averaging around 28°C. Underwater visibility is excellent on the east side of the atolls, while it decreases on their western side. In turn, the rainy season (from May to November) is characterized by the Southwest Monsoon and the current flowing in the opposite direction, from the southwest to the northeast. The sea can be rougher during this period, the water temperature on the west side of the atolls is slightly lower and the underwater visibility is better on west side of the atolls than on the east side. During the periods of the change of direction of the monsoon (May and November), the currents can be changeable, so the conditions of the water surface, the water temperature, and the underwater visibility become unpredictable.
Maldives is home to the world’s largest known population of reef manta rays. It is much more likely to encounter manta rays as well as whale sharks in more opaque waters. Generally, the shark species of the atolls get closer to the surface when the water temperature is slightly lower than usual. Sighting of giant sea turtles is also common in the area. Moreover, the visitors can find here a variety of hard and soft corals, an impressive spectrum of fish species, a wide variety of crustaceans, and a range of colorful sponges.
Maldives offers a range of interesting diving opportunities for divers of different experience level. More capable divers can enjoy fast-flowing currents that attract a more diverse marine life. While less experienced divers can explore the more sheltered coral reef. Even snorkeling in the shallow waters of an island’s shoreline can offer exciting moments.