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The rich and lively marine life of the Maldives

by Mohamed Rehan

14 November 2021, MVT 11:33
The rich and lively marine life of the Maldives
14 November 2021, MVT 11:33

The archipelagic nation of Maldives, with its close to 1,100 seamlessly scattered islands amid the ocean is home to some of the most exotic and beautiful underwater creatures. This ocean-locked nation’s majority of wildlife is naturally aquatic and the diversity of the creatures one can come across in these waters is unparalleled elsewhere.

Moreover, the Maldives is also home to some of the most pristine and appealing reefs in the world – which is abundant in numbers from anywhere you would look.

The turquoise waters blending into the darker navy blues contains over 2,000 species of underwater fauna ranging from vibrant reef fish, moray eels, turtles, rays as well as giant pelagic creatures such as the tuna, dolphins, sharks and the ever so majestic whale sharks which are spotted abundantly in the Maldives.

Additionally, the reefs have a myriad of corals which are reportedly over 200 species ranging from branch, table as well as pillars and flowerpot corals.

Here is a look at some of the underwater species found in abundance across the Maldives.


The Surgeonfish also called ‘Tang’, from the Acanthuridae family, includes close to 86 extant species and make their homes in tropical seas, around coral reefs. Perhaps this might be the reason why these blue beauties are found in large schools across various house reefs of the Maldivian islands. They usually grow up to 50 centimeters while most of them feature bright yellow or deep brown or blue colors on their scales.

Napoleon Wrasse

From the Labridae family, the Napoleon Wrasse is actually more commonly known as the Humphead Wrasse while other notable names include the Maori Wrasse and Napoleonfish. The largest living member of the Labridae family, the males of Napoleon Wrasse are usually larger than the females and can grow up to 2 meters. This humphead fish is usually in dull blue-green to variant shades of green to purplish-blue.

Meyer’s Butterflyfish

This adorable reef fish is more commonly identified as the ‘scrawled butterflyfish’ and sometimes referred to as the ‘maypole butterflyfish’, known for their distinctive white or blueish bodies marked with curve or diagonal black bars on its flanks. They also have a yellow edged black bar running from the eyes and a similar bar on their snouts and around the mouths. The butterflyfish has 12 to 13 spines and 23 to 25 soft rays in its dorsal fins with 3 spines and 18 to 20 soft rays in their rear fins. The Meyer’s Butterflyfish usually grow to a length of 20 centimeters and are frequent visitors across the house reefs of Maldivian lagoons.


The venomous Lionfish is also known as Zebrafish, Firefish, Turkeyfish as well as Butterfly-Cod in various regions. Vividly distinctive, the lionfish are characterized with varying colors of red, white, creamy or black bands with showy pectoral fins and spiky fin rays. The Lionfish have unique tentacles located above their eye sockets which vary depending on the phenotypes between the species.

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