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A Complete Guide To Swimming With Sharks In The Maldives

What types of sharks are there in the Maldives?
Is it safe to swim with sharks?
Have there been any shark attacks in the Maldives?

This blog post about the sharks of The Maldives will answer all of your questions about sharks and if you're a shark-lover, where exactly you can swim with them!

The Maldives is literally paradise in earth for divers: the colourful reefs, the exotic marine life and most importantly, the diversity of sharks. If you're a keen diver (or simply want to learn how to dive) and wondering where to go on your next holiday, look no further - the Maldives has all you could ever wish for!

If you're looking to become a certified PADI Open Water diver, check out out 6-night Diving Course Trip!

Shark attacks are non existent in the Maldives. You will see many sharks, but they won't be interested in you and for the most part, are completely harmless. The reason why we are afraid and scared of sharks is because these predators routinely appear in movies as ferocious man-eaters—but in real life, they rarely harm humans at all.

Reassuring facts:

In fact, here are some international statistics about all sharks to reassure you:

  • The global average of shark attacks is on average 65 attacks per year. Of those 65 attacks per year, less than five are actually fatal.

  • Looking at the bigger picture - according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there have been just 464 fatal attacks worldwide in the last 500 years.

  • Spiders, snakes, hippos, deer, cows, horses, bees and ants are all at least five times more likely to kill you than sharks.

  • Only 3 shark species are responsible for most human bites and fatalities: the great white, the bull shark and the tiger shark, but even with these, most bites are inspired more by curiosity than animosity.

  • Finally, for every 1 human killed by a shark approximately 25 million sharks are killed by humans.

How many types of sharks are there in the Maldives?

If you're a diver coming to the Maldives in search of sharks, trust us, you will not be disappointed. With over 26 types of sharks in the Maldives (there are 500+ species in the world), you will definitely spot these friendly giants around in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives.

The most common sharks spotted in the Maldives are:

  • BlackTip Reef Shark

  • Whale Shark

  • Hammerhead Shark

  • Tiger Shark

Black Tip Reef Shark

The blacktip reef shark is easily spotted everywhere in the Maldives and is identified by the black tips on its fins. Among the most abundant sharks inhabiting the tropical coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, they prefer shallow, inshore waters. The blacktip reef shark has a timid demeanor and is easily frightened away by swimmers.

Whale Shark

The biggest and largest fish in the sea, the Whale Shark, is a stunning, harmless fish providing incredible and common encounters with humans in the Maldives, especially in South Ari Atoll. Despite its large size, it is not a dangerous species. The whale shark being rare and endangered, is a protected species in the Maldives.

Dreaming of swimming with these stunning animals? Check out our: 6-night Whale Shark Trip

Tiger Shark

The stunning Tiger Shark boasts beautiful tiger patterns. The tiger shark has the reputation of being aggressive, but they can still be swimmed and dived with, without any danger. Fuvahmulah is the best spot for finding Tiger Sharks.

Hammerhead Sharks

The harmless hammer head can be spotted in different areas around the Maldives, but a hotspot is the Hammerhead Point at Rasdhoo, where you can find large schools of hammerheads.

So, how safe is it to dive with sharks? It's safe! Anybody who has dived with sharks in the Maldives will confirm that it is a pleasure and a treat. Just make sure to do your research, here are some tips.

Tips on how to feel safe diving with sharks:

1. Do your research and learn shark behaviour

Research the behaviour of sharks in your environment and read reputable articles specific to the species of shark that you will encounter. In the Maldives, you can also speak with local experts and guides.

Sharks generally move slowly and steadily. If they feel like they are under threat by a diver's presence, they will show a sudden behavioural change: dropped pectoral fins, a gaping mouth, an arched back and increased speed are all signs that you should move close to the reef wall and, potentially, abort the dive.

2. Don’t stress or overthink

Diving with sharks is a unique, humbling and incredible experience. If done correctly, you’ll minimise the risk to yourself, your buddies and the environment and get the chance to observe these beautiful creatures respectfully and at relatively close quarters.

So, be a responsible diver: don’t let your camera distract you, stay with your buddy, keep a close eye on your gas consumption, no-decompression limits, depth and ascent raax!r

Have a read of shark dives best practices and by following this, you will ensure a positive experience and – more importantly – a responsible and sustainable interaction with sharks.

3. Go diving with a responsible Dive Centre and diving buddy

If you’re diving somewhere with lots of potential shark encounters, choose a reputable and environmentally-focused dive operator. Investigate online, look for positive reviews. Dive with someone that has experience too.

4. Understand the environment

To have a successful shark encounter, first you must have a successful dive. Research and be comfortable with the dive environment, know the water temperature, currents, visibility and equipment configuration.

5. Plan your dive

Dawn and dusk are hunting times for many types of sharks. There is likely to be more shark activity on a dive, but, conversely, a greater potential risk as they search for prey at those times of the day.

6. Be gentle, quiet, subtle and respectful

Creating minimal disruption to the shark’s environment leaves you more likely to observe their natural behaviour and reduces any potential risk to yourself.

Move slowly and steadily beneath the surface. Relax your breathing and don’t approach or, worse, chase the shark. This will likely startle the animal and may provoke a defensive reaction.

Many diving experts recommend staying close the reef wall or seabed to avoid leaving yourself exposed. This habit has two advantages:

  • First, a shark cannot startle you by sneaking up behind you outside of your field of vision.

  • Second, this helps ensure that a current doesn’t pull you out into the blue and separate you from the dive group.

Be a respectful visitor to the shark’s environment. The idea is to blend into the reef wall or seabed and observe the shark with minimal disturbance.

It is a sad truth that the media still often wrongly portrays these magnificent animals. Misinformation, and fear, describe sharks as dangerous eating machines. In reality, leaving aside baited shark dives, they’re reserved and cautious when near divers. The risk of harm from a shark encounter is statistically tiny.

We hope that this will encourage you to dive with sharks in the Maldives!

A list of all sharks found in the Maldives:

  • Tawny nurse shark

  • Zebra shark

  • Variegated shark

  • Star-spotted smooth-hound shark

  • Snaggletooth shark

  • SilverTip shark

  • BigNose shark

  • Grey reef shark

  • Silky shark

  • Blacktip shark

  • Oceanic whitetip shark

  • Blacktip reef shark

  • Spottail shark

  • Tiger shark

  • Sliteye shark

  • Sicklefin lemon shark

  • Blue shark

  • Scalloped hammerhead

  • Whitetip reef shark

  • Small tooth sand tiger shark

  • Bigeye thresher shark

  • Thresher shark

  • Shortfin mako

  • Sharpnose sevengill shark

  • Bluntnose sixgill shark

  • Kitefin shark

Let us know if you have any questions!

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