The crystal clear waters of the Maldives is a haven and a home for a multitude of marine animal species. In fact, one of the most popular reasons people travel to the Maldives is to encounter sharks. With over 20 species of sharks in this archipelago from the abundant blacktip reef sharks to rare great hammerheads, get to know some of the common species here and even spot them when you visit for a snorkelling or scuba diving trip!
Blacktip reef sharks are some of the most common shark species in the Maldives archipelago. They are medium-sized creatures that extend to about 1.6 metres and they can be identified from distinct black tips on most of their fins. These sharks live in shallow waters and feed on small fish and marine animals among the reefs. In fact, you can often spot baby blacktip reef sharks at most Maldives resorts including at Club Med Kani and Finolhu Villas. These juvenile blacktips can swim in very shallow waters and have been spotted coming all the way up to beaches. However, blacktips are also very shy species of sharks and will often bolt away when you get close to them.
Whale sharks are some of the largest shark species and largest living fish around. However, despite its massive size, these gentle giants are harmless as they are filter feeders that feed on plankton and tiny shrimp. They are very common in the Maldives, especially in the South Ari Atoll. Whale sharks use the archipelago as a nursery and as a result, most of them here are juveniles measuring around six metres long. They like swimming in shallow waters, so if you are lucky enough you can spot them when you're snorkelling.
Grey reef sharks are commonly found around coral reefs and are active at night. They have a moderately stout body with a relatively rounded snout and can grow up to two metres long. They have a noticeable grey colouration on their first dorsal fin, and occasionally, on other fins as well. You can find them in areas where there is current including Rasdhoo Madivaru, Guraidhoo Corner, and many thilas and channels on the Maldives' east side. There's a good chance you'll encounter them in a dive, so keep a lookout for them on your Maldives travels.
Although hammerhead sharks are not as well spotted in the Maldives, divers have a good chance of spotting scalloped hammerheads. They are medium-sized sharks with a slightly scalloped and rounded front edge on their heads. They are true carnivores and even feed on other sharks.
The best place to see them is at Rasdhoo Atoll in the Ari Atoll. Like the other Maldives whale shark tours, you can join a dive tour for hammerhead sharks where you can visit Hammerhead Point at Madivaru Corner. The best time to spot them is early in the morning, before sunrise, so you'll ideally see the school of hammerheads pass by just as you arrive.