Mar 222016

Nurse sharks schooling by night

My favourite dives and swims of the Carpe Vita Maldives trip were the night dives. There’s something surreal about swimming through inky black water on a warm tropical night. The otherworldliness increases when large creatures swim through the water beside you, completely ignoring your incursion into their world.

The night dive on the first day was at Alimathaa Jetty. The resort on this island conducts a sunset shark feed and the sharks are very active after the sun goes down. We descended onto the reef to see a couple of nurse sharks and their large fish escorts zipping between the corals. They were using diver lights to hunt out small unfortunate fish in the reef. As a group we tried for a few photos, before moving up to where the rest of the divers were watching sharks, stingrays and fish swarm around as the dive guides released bottles of fish blood.

Mating nurse sharks

While the action was frantic to watch, it wasn’t much good for photography. Too many divers in the frame and too much sand in the water. So after watching the movement across the circle for a while I lifted my eyes up. Above and behind the group there were several dozen nurse sharks. Unlike their smaller brethren down on the sand with us, these were the big mamas. They were looping around each other as they manoeuvred in the gentle current. The fish blood circus forgotten, I moved to find the highest possible bommie for my reef hook.

Even there I was not quite close enough to light up the sharks with my strobes. Some patient waiting brought them a bit closer, and eventually I gave up on the reef hook and floated up into the school. Shooting up to get white bellies against black water gave some lovely shots. I was only just getting started when I heard tank banging commotion again below.

Some of the sharks were there for more than dinner – it was orgy time. A cluster of males were wrapped up with a female shark on the sand. All the sharks involved were curling backwards and forwards as they jockeyed for position. Their bodies formed a star against the coral, though getting all the tails in the frame posed some difficulties. If you look closely the wrinkles around their heads show the effort that goes into holding position in the melee. These guys were not bothered by or interested in the curious divers all around them. They stayed fully focus on creating the next generation of sharks as our no deco time came to an end and we followed the current out into the black water.

See my other Maldives posts here and book your own adventures with Liquid Diving Adventures.

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