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Diving the Maldives - Another point of view

by Mike Glover

Reproduced from in focus 2 (February 1984)

Having spent three weeks in the Maldives last August I was particularly interested to read Mark Webster's account in December's issue of IN FOCUS of his trip there earlier in the year. Herewith another, and rather different, view.

We too arrived at Villi Varu, though sadly with only our hand baggage - but that's another story. Undeterred we went in search of the Water Sports Centre only to find it closed. We were advised that the diving leader was stuck in Male with boat troubles but that his deputy on Bi-ya-Doo island half a mile away would be over the next day to look after us. He did come over three days later after some fairly strenuous complaints to the hotel manager.

The 'deputy' recommended we should not use the centre's ABLJ bottles as they were so rusty; we did eventually find a couple of D.V.s that did not leak too badly. There were no wet suits for hire. It's interesting that there are many more plants and animals that sting and cause skin problems in the Maldives than there ever are in the Red Sea. I would say that a wet suit was pretty essential, particularly for photographers.

Unlike Mark, we were lucky enough to be warned off the boat diving, in our case though, because of the deputy's' almost total incompetence, We found the house reefs around the island very battered -and to think we used to grumble about Ras-um-Sid.

Perhaps saddest of all was how disappointing the visibility was. Our initial reaction was that this was because being close to shore and over sand with a fair degree of tidal action, it was to be expected. As Mark says the drop-offs were certainly minis.

Our second and third week were spent on Baros in the North Atoll. Here we met Sepp Zedelmayer. What a contrast - thank goodness. Sepp is highly competent and runs a tight ship. Whilst a proficient photographer he was, unlike our friend the 'deputy', rarely seen in the water with a camera when leading a dive. He also went to a lot of trouble too, to help camera buffs often putting them in first and leading them to particular spots. He was also kind enough in view of my particular problems, to lend his cameras and flashes.

Again the home reefs were battered, with a noticeable lack of soft corals. The only time we encountered the standard of visibility one takes for granted in the Red Sea was when diving on the edge of the main atoll at places like Vadu channel. Even on boat dives, away from the island but within the atoll, the water clarity was disappointing.

There can be little doubt that it's essential to do most of one's diving from the boats particularly if you want to be sure of seeing sharks turtles and mantas. We found that this bought the unit cost of our dives to over £12.00 as the hotel want their cut for the use of the boats.


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