The Maldive Islands are known for strong currents. While they make diving more difficult at times, thanks to these currents the archipelago is especially known for the Maldivian ”big five” (whale sharks, reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, and dolphins . The surrounding schools of fish, nudibranches and turtle sightings won’t disappoint. either. The currents make for challenging diving which Maldives dive instructors are very familiar with.
Diving in the Maldives can be experienced in different ways depending on your ability and interest. Some see diving as an adventure sport and build their holiday around it and others are happy to dive once or twice during their holiday as an excursion from the hotel or guest house. While hotel and guest house diving is adapted to suit lower levels as needed, when participating in a dive safari or liveaboard dive holiday having some experience will ensure you can benefit as much as possible from each dive.
Sources of Maldives Currents
The main factor affecting Maldives scuba diving is the current; this goes for the channels as well as around the reefs. With varying factors at play, the currents fluctuate frequently in the many spots around the island chain. There are four factors that affect the strength and direction of these currents, including:
- shape/type of site
Of the four factors, the most influential are the seasonal changes. Seasons in the Maldives are linked to the winds of the monsoons. Found out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, monsoonal periods influence the oceanic currents which cross this archipelago with the current at its strongest in the middle of monsoon rather than during the periods of transition.
Monsoon periods generally fall during these periods:
-from December to April (North-East monsoon), current from the east towards the west
-from May to November (South-West monsoon), a reverse current from the west towards the east
The lunar-influenced ocean tides also have a considerable impact on Maldives currents. While the scale of the tidal change is not large, the limited numbers of channels where water enters and leaves the atolls create strong currents in certain areas. It’s when a combination of the above factors comes together that the currents are strongest. For example, the tides can work against the general current to stop or slow the flow then upon changing of the tides the forces are flowing in the same direction and work together to create very strong currents. Dive operators and instructors will be aware of this and will ensure diving takes place at the appropriate time.
Why We Like Strong Currents
Navigating the currents is not generally a problem, for divers with some experience, since divers move with the current. Divers advance with the water under the surface while the boat follows above.
For a scuba diver, there are many good reasons to like strong currents:
- more fish (including more large fish) are attracted to the area
- more distance can be covered under water; therefore divers can discover more during the dive
- less use of fins to move; therefore less fatigue, reduced consumption of air and longer time spent under the water
- a higher quality, higher energy experience
Diving with the Current
The types of sites and the currents in the region mean drift dives are common and safety balloons are often a necessity. This means you start the dive from the spot where the boat drops you off and then you’ll be picked up where you surface after the dive.
The types and shapes of dive sites combined with the effects of the current require specific entry tactics for many Maldives dive sites. Following the dive master, everyone in the group jumps into the water and descends quickly to 5 meters to shelter from the current. At this depth, the current is weaker thanks to the effect of its contact with the reef. The current is forced up towards the surface to pass over the ridge so divers near the surface would be fighting the current and be taken away from the intended dive site destination.
For this reason, ample preparation before hitting the water is imperative. Once you hit the water you won’t have time for adjustments so all the equipment has to be well-adjusted, sinuses and ears tested. At the 5 meter point, it’s important to keep your eyes on the guide who is testing the current and deciding on the best descent. In some cases you’ll even have to swim on the opposite side of the site in order to get in line with the current that will take you into the right area.
The use of a diving hook will be best in some spots which will allow you to hang out in the current with hands free and to remain steadier to prevent damaging coral. There are two other major benefits to using a diving hook, which are the ability to spend more “quality time” with the larger fish who loiter in the strong current and the advantage of being at a higher vantage point with a great view above other divers.
In short, you need not worry too much about the strong currents of the Maldives. Instructors are familiar with the local quirks and conditions. Dive into the exotic Maldives’ marine underworld with a liveaboard package for your next holiday.
No related posts.