Maldives 2016, Athuruga & Thudufushi - Photos 3

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First, the Good.  A Reef Manta ray (Manta alfredi) at my favourite dive site, Kuda Miaru Thila.  Nicola Bassett from the Maldivian Manta Project at Thudufushi tells me that this one is called Peanut.
First, the Good. A Reef Manta ray (Manta alfredi) at my favourite dive site, Kuda Miaru Thila. Nicola Bassett from the 
				Maldivian Manta Project at Thudufushi tells me that this one is called Peanut.
It stayed with us for 15 minutes, flying elegantly round and round the reeftop.
It stayed with us for 15 minutes, flying elegantly round and round the reeftop.
And another Good - a Stingray or Giant Reef ray (Taeniura melanospila) at Moofushi Kandu.
And another Good - a Stingray or Giant Reef ray (Taeniura melanospila) at Moofushi Kandu.
And an unconcerned Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) ignores me and just keeps munching on the algae on the coral at Shark Thila.
And an unconcerned Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) ignores me and just keeps munching on the algae on the coral at 
				Shark Thila.
Smile for your close-up, Mr Turtle.
Smile for your close-up, Mr Turtle.
Nicoletta snaps another one at the atoll edge in Moofushi Kandu after we drifted in from Maavaru Corner.
Nicoletta snaps another one at the atoll edge in Moofushi Kandu after we drifted in from Maavaru Corner.
Next, the Bad.  A Crown of Thorns starfish or seastar (COTS) (Acanthaster planci) with venomous spines on the reef near Fesdhoo Wreck.  Their population explosion this year has been immensely damaging as they destroy the coral.
Next, the Bad. A Crown of Thorns starfish or seastar (COTS) (Acanthaster planci) with venomous spines on the reef near Fesdhoo Wreck. 
				Their population explosion this year has been immensely damaging as they destroy the coral.
Another Bad - Coral bleaching, caused by warmer-than-usual ocean currents brought in by the last El Niño.  The dead white patches on this coral rock show how stressed it already was before the COTS attacked it.   This image sums up the two major threats to the Maldives' coral reefs this year.
Another Bad - Coral bleaching, caused by warmer-than-usual ocean currents brought in by the last El Niño. The dead white patches on 
				this coral rock show how stressed it already was before the COTS attacked it. This image sums up the two major threats to the 
				Maldives' coral reefs this year.
Fighting back against the COTS threat.  Two of the water-sports staff on a COTS hunt next to the jetty on the house reef at Athuruga.  They are carrying long metal poles to lift COTS out off the reef and deposit them in the floating box.  In the 3 or 4 minutes I stood watching them, they captured two COTS within a few metres.
Fighting back against the COTS threat. Two of the water-sports staff on a COTS hunt next to the jetty on the house reef at 
				Athuruga. They are carrying long metal poles to lift COTS out off the reef and deposit them in the floating box. In 
				the 3 or 4 minutes I stood watching them, they captured two COTS within a few metres.
More evidence of coral bleaching - the dead white patches on this branching coral at Himandhoo Kandu.
More evidence of coral bleaching - the dead white patches on this branching coral at Himandhoo Kandu.
More dead, white, bleached coral at Himandhoo Kandu.
More dead, white, bleached coral at Himandhoo Kandu.
And finally, the Ugly.  A highly poisonous and well-camouflaged Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) lurks under a coral block at Kuda Miaru Thila.
And finally, the Ugly. A highly poisonous and well-camouflaged Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) lurks under a coral block at 
				Kuda Miaru Thila.

Back to Maldives 2016.