The Maldives is a place full of surprises, the marine life is so vast and bio diverse that is has many wonders and mysteries for you to uncover. Even though you might know some facts about this vast and isolated land, some little details might be left unspoken.
Therefore, below some aspects you probably didn't know about the Maldivian sea world:
The beach as the ocean, has a lot of details and aspects to it you might have not considered. An example of this is why sand has holes in it, ghost crabs are responsible for these holes as these have different purposes: protection from predation and from drying out, storage of their food, and many others.
The sea world is still so mysterious and vast; humankind has discovered only a small percentage of it. Marine species come in different colours; sizes, shapes, skeleton formation, colours, patterns and behaviours, and these characteristics determine the role of this species in the ecosystem.
Fishes have hard plates forming scales on their skin and their primary function is to protect the skin from predator attacks, parasites and other injuries. Tropic fishes are very colourful as the reef itself is full of different patterns. Some fishes have the lower part of the body with a light coloration and the upper part with a dark pattern, in order to not be seen by predators coming either from the bottom or from the surface. If the predator comes from the bottom, the exposed part of the prey is as light as the sea surface. If the predator comes from above, the exposed part of the prey is as dark as the sea floor. Octopuses, instead, are able to change color according to the substrate in order not to be seen by predators and to ambush the prey and are also know for squirting ink as a defence mechanism.
These reactions are also very common among marine life as predators are always ready to attack and every creature is prepared to defend itself from external danger. Some of these mechanisms are different and quirkier than usual. The sea cucumber for example, is able to eviscerate parts of their internal apparatus and the missing parts are then regenerated. Puffer fishes, inhale water and increase their volume and some, are also able to release spines when they inflate. This extreme defence method causes stress to the fish, so it is obviously forbidden to annoy them and make them inflate just for fun, as their internal organs may collapse. Moreover, nurse sharks are believed not to have teeth but this wrong belief is driven by the size of those teeth compared to the ones of other sharks. Nurse sharks have indeed thousand of tiny serrated teeth that are mainly used for defence and not for hunting.
There are also many unconventionally shaped fish, from the more common hammerhead shark and the moonfish to the most unique and unusual shapes, found among the abyssal fishes worldwide. For example, the female humpback anglerfish has a long bulbous esca, which act as a bioluminescent lure to attract prey and a huge mouth. In this species there is also a huge difference between males and females. Males are indeed much smaller and they lack the bioluminescent lure.
Some species also have hidden but important characteristics that help them move and settle more easily. An example of this is the starfish as it has tube feet, which have a function in locomotion by allowing the starfish to attach itself to the substrate and move slowly on it, feeding and respiration.
Among different marine species seen in the Maldives, whale sharks have also been seen and even though some of their behavioural aspects are still under examination, their migratory activity is mainly driven by feeding needs. The whale shark population in Maldives is mainly composed by young males, which move accordingly to the amount of plankton present, as they are also known as filter feeders that feed on plankton.
These mammals are majestic creatures but we are often afraid of being harmed by them, what we don’t know is that we are indirectly harming them by the simple action of touch. Sharks and other marine species have a mucus layers on the outer surface, its function is to assist the respiratory system and protect them from external bacteria and parasites that are unable to permeate the mucus layer but by touching it, this layer is compromised. Shark skin is made up of placoid scales, tiny teeth-like structures that point towards the tail and help reduce friction from the surrounding water during swimming activities. This is the reason why, touching the sharks from tail to nose, would feel like sandpaper. Corals as well can be jeopardised as they also have this mucus layer and stinging cells in their polyps, so there is a possibility of break part of the colony, making impossible the building of the reef structure when touching or stepping on them.
Some species also contribute for each other safety and wellbeing: one of the most common examples is the relation between clownfish and sea anemone. Their relation is called symbiosis.The anemone has stinging cells in the tentacles, which keep predators away from the clownfish living there. The clownfish are able to live among those tentacles thanks to their mucus layer that makes them immune to the anemone’s sting. On the other side, the anemones feed on the food scraps remaining from the feeding activity of the clownfish.
The Maldives is known for the passing of manta rays, which usually happens in a group, on an exact spot and at a precise time each year but the reason for this is still not clear to the scientific community. Mainly females tend to stick to the same group, while males aggregate to the group for reproductive purposes. Dolphins are also social animals, as they often stay with the same pod and work together to hunt prey, evade predators, and care for sick or injured members.
Many marine creatures also have an adaptive memory, which can be mostly related to feeding activities. Other species have a more sophisticated and developed memory such as dolphins, which are able to interact with external situations and reproduce a certain behaviour accordingly.
In addition, the Indian ocean it’s so vast and still undiscovered, fully a surprise. Every species coexists with each other and have a precise role and scope in the ecosystem.