Ok, so we’ve talked about Huvadhoo and Maldives, so what about the diving?!
The diving was amazing. I saw some rays that I had never seen before, and grey reef sharks are in abundance. There are leopard sharks all over the place and swarms and swarms of snapper and trevally. There is a tuna canning factory in Huvadhoo and they release a lot of "gubbins" into the water and the surrounding dive site is just crazy with different fish. I had a group of Italians on board one week and they wanted to dive it every day. We did it three times and each time we saw something different, whether it was pink whiprays, grey reefs, pelagic fish, or big green turtles. There was always a smile on the surface afterwards.
The currents can be very strong in the channels but we start off the novices slow and after a couple of days they are drifting with the rest of us experiencing the rush of being swept through the channels and watching the marine life. At some corners or drop-offs, when the tide is rising, there are sharks in abundance and you almost feel like part of the menu. Too exhilarating for words!
The coral reef structures were fantastic: table corals reaching 4 metres across and healthy acroporas, stone corals, staghorns, brain corals, sea fans, and many other soft and hard corals.
The marine life is very abundant, and traditionally the local fisheries are the backbone of the country’s economy, providing about 80% of the export revenue. Currently, tourism has taken over, but fishing remains the most important part in socio-economic terms as it provides a substantial source of food, employment, and commercial earnings. Currently the tourism sector contributes 33% of the GDP.
I am now based up on North Male Atoll, where I expect to be for the next few months. I am off the boat now and will do part time trips when I am needed. Life on a live-aboard is very solitary when it’s just one person. For 3 weeks I was fortunate to have a colleague with me, but most of the time I was alone.
You wake up at 0630am every day and do three dives plus 3 night dives per week. There are no days off for at least 3 months. In between, you make sure that the crew are keeping up with chores and that the guests are comfortable.
By the time night comes, I am well and truly crackered. It’s not just the physical side. It’s a lonely existence as the only colleagues you have on board are locals, and there is a huge language and cultural barrier. There are times when fun guests come on board, but even so it’s a week and they leave again. It’s like a life with short-term friendships. Some guests have even cried when they have left the boat! (Ok. You can all put your violins and boxes of Kleenex tissues away now.)
I am now living on an island (ex-resort) which is being reconstructed into a six star luxury resort and spa. It will be completed at the end of next year. I am staying here with friends, and I am still diving and teaching the employees (stressed out architects, interior designers and project managers) diving courses, studying and taking time out to spend time doing my hobbies. At the moment the island is full, so diving is becoming a very popular activity and there are fights over the sign up list. (Even life on a small idyllic island gets a little soap opera-ish).
The diving around here is great and I will send in some photos later on. However, there is some reef devastation in the surrounding house reef due to dredging and land reclaim, so I would like to take a closer look at that and perhaps get some feedback from readers on coral transplant projects. Any ideas?
So that’s me for the moment… and thanks to all those who have emailed me after reading some of my articles. It’s great to hear from civilisation now and again. (smile)