The seas around the Maldives are famous for their marine life. Thousands of species make the Maldives their home, including fish, coral, whales and dolphins.
The coastal waters off the islands are a diverse habitat for fish: over 2,000 species can be found there.
Fish native to the Maldives include:
- Colourful tropical fish like the angelfish, butterflyfish and clownfish. These beautiful animals have made the islands a must-see tourist destination for scuba divers.
- Sharks, including the reef shark, zebra shark and whale shark. There is very little danger to humans from these sharks; they will keep to themselves if they're not provoked as they have plenty of food that they prefer to people!
- Rays, such as the manta ray, eagle ray and stingray. Manta rays can grow to have a wingspan of 25 feet, and diving with the rays is a popular attraction.
Most of the mammals native to the Maldives live in the water: there are very few land mammals on the islands. The archipelago is home to a large population of whales and dolphins. Over 20 species have been recorded there - a quarter of the world's total.
- Dolphins: the Maldives is one of the best places in the world to see wild dolphins playing in their natural environment. The most common species of dolphin is the spinner dolphin.
- Whales: the islands are an ideal place for whale watching. Species that regularly visit the waters of the Maldives include the pilot whale, sperm whale and blue whale - the largest mammal in the world.
The Maldives has 2.86 percent of the world's coral reefs, with 187 species of corals. These reefs are a vital habitat for other sea life in the Maldives. In 1998, rising sea temperatures killed over 60 percent of the nation's coral reefs. Since then, scientists have worked to regrow the reefs and save this important ecosystem for future generations.