Kuramathi, Naturally Maldives
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Marine Life

Corals

Acropora

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Nosey coral, Acropora nasuta

Distributed from the Red Sea to Tahiti, this common species was named for its neat rows of upside down radial polyps which resemble noses.
It generally prefers shallow water and can be brown or cream with pink

Artistic coral

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Platygyra daedalea

Brain-like colonies with a characteristic ragged appearance to the septa. This species is common from the Red Sea to Lord Howe Island and may have brown walls and septa with green or white valleys in between.
Range from 5 – 20 m

Blue Coral

blue-coral-heliopora

Heliopora coerulea

Found from the Red Sea to the Great Barrier Reef, the "blue coral" is
unique. Its polyps construct a deep blue calcium carbonate skeleton.
The blue is a result from high amounts of iron ions in the skeleton.
Colonies may be small blade-like projections in deeper water to
massive wavy folds.
Range from 0 to 20 m

Bristle Coral

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Galaxea fascicularis
Common across the entire Indo-Pacific where it often forms large colonies up to 3 m across. Colour can be green, red, brown or yellow with a number of growth forms; the corallites are generally well formed with blade-like septa.
Range from 5 to 20 m

Diminutive Coral

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Lobophyllia sp.
Dome shaped colonies in sheltered reefs. The individual lobes are mostly rounded and attached only on their bases. They are thus easily broken and frequently damaged by careless anchoring of boats.

Faulkner’s coral

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Tubastrea faulkneri
Living in caves and beneath overhangs, this coral genus is recorded from the Red Sea to the Sea of Cortez (Mexico). It grows in small compacted clumps. The skin may be pink or bright orange and the large polyps are generally only extended at night.
Range from 10 to 20 m

Flame coral

flame-coral

Porites rus
Found from the Red Sea to Hawaii and the Great Barrier Reef this species has very small corallites separated into groups by converging ridges which suggest a pattern of flames. Colour may be brown with lighter branch tips, or yellow.
Range from 5 to 20 m

Lichtenstein’s Coral

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Physogyra sp.
Common across the Indo-Pacific this easily identified coral is found
on deeper walls and beneath overhangs in the Maldives. Its grape-like
bubble tentacles are expanded during the day they are however hidden by the longer feeding tentacles that are extended during night time.
Range from 20 to 30 m

Magenta Menelle

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Menella sp.
Mostly seen on deeper water terraces or at the bottom of drop offs or
cave floors this very distinctive bright red species grows as a bunch
of long whip-like fronds with few side branches and red polyps. Deep water colonies may be up to a metre in height.
Range from 30 to 50 m

Mushroom coral

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Fungia fungites
These very common mushroom corals have highly developed triangular septal teeth. Colours can be brown, grey, yellow or white and range extends from the Red Sea to French Polynesia.
Range from 0 to 20 m

Mushroom Leather coral

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Sarcophyton sp.
Mushroom leather corals are common across the entire Indo-Pacific; there are, at present, around 36 different species recorded. This form is grey on top and elongate in shape with deeply folded strongly convoluted margins. It grows on reef tops and slopes.
Range from 5 to 10 m

Pocillopora

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Pocillopora sp.
This genus occurs along tops of reef slopes and reef rims. Colour forms include pink, cream or blue.
Range from 0 to 10 m

Pore Coral

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Porites sp.
The colonies are typically massive and domed, often dominant in sheltered reef and lagoon areas. The corallites are variable in size; many species have extremely small corallites. Domed colonies can reach 8m in height and, as they grow at a rate of approximately 10mm per year, may be several hundred years old. Each colony is either male or female, fertilisation is internal.

Radiant Coral

radiant-coral

Symphyllia radians
Known from the Maldives to Fiji radiant coral is found in areas of
upper reef slopes. Most colonies are round or flat and colours include grey, green, yellow and brown.
Range from 10 to 20 m

Scuted Mushroom coral

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Fungia scutaria
A common easily recognised form found across the entire Indo-Pacific it is generally seen on reef tops and along the edges of slopes. It is always elongate in shape and heavy set with prominent tentacular lobes (usually green). Colour may be yellow or brown.
Range from 3 to 20 m

Sea Fan (Smooth Sea Fan)

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Annella mollis
Easily determined by visual features this species has characteristic wide fans which grow on a single flat plane either upright or on walls and cave ceilings. The branches are smooth and they form patterns with many variously sized oblongs

and squares. Colour varies from pink to yellow or brown.

Specious Coral

specious-coral

Pachyseris speciosa
Speciose coral has a dish-like shape with horizontal, reasonably uniform ridges and can not be confused with its known relatives. It ranges from the Red Sea to Tahiti, and is either brown or grey.
Range from 5 to 30 m

Spiky Soft coral

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Dendronephthya mucronata
Colony is short and stalky. Polyps form round balls. Mostly seen in white or pink and reach a size of up to 40 cm. Occurs throughout the Indian Ocean and reaches the west Pacific.
Range from 10 to 40 m

Orange Spiky Soft Coral

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Dendronephtya sp.
Extremely colourful and common throughout the Maldives this genus is widespread across the entire Indo-Pacific area.
Range from 5 to 50 m

Sun coral

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Diploastrea helipora
One of the most easily identifiable corals there is only one species in the genus. The colonies are massive and dome-shaped with a very even surface pattern. Colours range from green to brown or cream and the species is known from the Red Sea to Samoa.
Range from 8 to 20 m

Table coral

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Acropora cf. hyacinthus
One of the most prolific corals, often providing the greatest cover on many reefs. The skeletons are light and fast growing. The corallites are characteristically densely-packed and cup shaped. Sensitive against high water temperatures, coral bleaching can frequently be observed in table corals.
Range from 3 to 10 m

Tubastrea "Midnight coral"

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Tubastrea micrantha

The branches of this coral are forming a tree-like structure, up to 1 m in height. The corallites are cup-like and the polyps only open at night. The colonies are dark green with brown undertones and have no symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae. The Midnight Coral is locally common on deeper reefs subjected to strong currents.
Range from 25 to 40 m

Warrior coral

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Goniopora sp.
A very aggressive coral that extends very long sweeper tentacles (up
to 400 mm) which will attack any other corals in range. Colonies often measure some metres across. The polyps have 24 tentacles and the genus flourishes from the Red Sea to the Tuamotu Islands in the Pacific.
Range from 5 to 20 m

Sharks

Leopard Shark

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Leopard Shark, Stegostoma fasciatum
Size: = 3.5m
The Leopard Shark is a bottom dweller, usually found in channels or patches of sand or rubble at depths of 5 to over 30m. It is generally found resting on sand rather than in caves. It forages primarily at night on molluscs and small fishes and is harmless to divers unless molested. It is also called Zebra Shark or Variegated Shark, because it undergoes a dramatic color change as it grows. Juveniles are dark with pale stripes, while adults are pale with dark spots.

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

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Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini
Size: = 3.3m
This rare shark is found inshore and offshore, from the surface to at least 300m depth. The leading edge of the head is slightly rounded and scalloped. The adults form schools and usually remain below the thermocline. They feed primarily on fishes, including other sharks and rays, occasionally on cephalopods and crustaceans. Generally they are non-aggressive.

Whale Shark

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Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus
Size: = 12m
The Whale Shark is the world’s largest fish. It has enormous size; however, reports of Whale Sharks up to 18m and more are unconfirmed. The dorsal surface is with a distinctive pattern of spots and bars, the terminal mouth is toothless. It feeds on zooplankton, pelagic crustaceans, small fishes and squids are seived through a spongy tissue between the gill arches. It has a circumtropical distribution and is curious and harmless to snorkelers and divers.

Blacktip Reef Shark

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Blacktip Reef Shark, Carcharinus melanopterus
Size: = 1.8m
This shallow water shark feeds on fish and other reef animals such as octopus and shrimp. Its coloration is pale brown with large black blotches on the first dorsal fin and lower part of tail fin. All other fins are black tipped.
Juveniles are seen swimming adjacent the island beaches and abound close to Kuramathi, while adults tend to be seen along reef slopes, both inside and outside the atoll. Like all reef sharks on the Maldives, they are harmless to humans, and blacktips can be been around Kuramathi even while snorkelling.

Grey Reef Shark

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Grey Reef Shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos
Size: = 1.9m
Grey Reef Sharks are common in the Maldives and you can frequently encounter them at certain places, like Maaya Thila. They mainly feed on fish, but also on other reef animals.
The trailing edge of the first dorsal fin of this stocky, grey shark is white, the tail fin edge is black.

White Tip Reef Shark

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Whitetip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus
Size: = 2.2m
This small, slender grey shark has a blunt head and distinct white tips to the first dorsal fin and upper part of the tail fin. It feeds on reef fish and octopus.
This shark is probably encountered on more dives than any other shark species in the Maldives. Even though this shark is rather timid, inquisitive juveniles may investigate snorkelers and divers. Whitetip reef sharks are often resident in a particular area for several months, using every day the same retreat for resting.

Rays

Manta Ray

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Manta ray, Manta birostris

Size: = 500 cm
The Manta ray is the biggest ray. It lives in the pelagial, the open water of tropical oceans from 1 to 40m. It does occur close to coral reefs as well. It feeds on tiny plankton organisms, krill and small fishes. Manta females give birth to 1 to 2 young after a 13 months gestation period. Pregnant females have been seen jumping out of the sea spectacularly while giving birth to their young!

Spotted Eagle Ray

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Spotted Eagle Ray, Aetobatus narinari
Size: = 350 cm
Most common “flying” stingray in the Indo-Pacific. Mostly seen in the open water close to coral reefs, including Atolls. A distinct feature of these rays is the dark dorsal side with white, regularly spaced spots. Furthermore is this the only ray species on the Maldives with a distinct ‘nose’.

Giant Reef Ray

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Giant Reef Ray, Taeniura melanospilos
Size: = 300 cm
This Stingray has a round shape with dense pattern of black spots. The tail is somewhat compressed and equipped with a spine. It lives on sandy areas of coral reefs from shallow waters to more than 400m depth. The food is fish and invertebrates. All Stingrays are dangerous if stepped on, the larger ones can deliver a fatal sting.

Moray Eels

Giant Moray

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Giant Moray, Gymnothorax javanicus
Size: = 280cm – The largest known Indo-Pacific moray.
Ecology: Lives in various reef habitats, in lagoons and seaward reefs from intertidal to 50m.
Feeds primarily on fish, occasionally on crustaceans. The meat is frequently ciguatoxic. In the Maldives they are docile. A widespread very common species.
Best distinguished from similar species by the numerous small dark spots on top of the head and back. Large individuals become quite heavy set. Juveniles are brown with rows of large dark spots on the sides.

Honeycomb Moray

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Honeycomb Moray, Gymnothorax favagineus
Size: = 250cm
Ecology: Occurs on reef flats and outer reef slopes of continental reefs to over 35m.
The black spots have about the same size of the eye and are regular in shape, forming a honeycomb pattern on a basically white ground. The size of the blotches varies between individuals and size, often related to the habitat. Those living on clear coral reefs usually have proportionally less black than those found in turbid waters.

Ribbon Eel

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Ribbon Eel, Rhinomuraena quaesita
Size: = 120cm
Ecology: Occurs in lagoons and seaward reefs from the intertidal to at least 60m. A secretive dweller of rubble or sand. Usually only the head is exposed. Waving the fingers at safe distance in front of the head may draw it out further. Uncommon in Maldives but found on Rasdhoo. They seem to have poor eyesight and rely on smell and sensing pressure changes to catch prey. Feeds on small fishes such as damsels.
Distinctive flaps on nostrils and barbels on the lower chin. The body is ribbon-like, the fins are wide. It has the ability to change its sex. Males are brown, while females are yellow and juveniles are brown or black. A very popular but delicate fish.

Undulated Moray

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Undulated Moray, Gymnothorax undulatus
Size: = 150cm
Ecology: Common on reef flats, among rocks and rubble on seawards reefs to 26m.
Primarily nocturnal. Feeds on fish, octopuses and probably crustaceans. Usually hunts at night when fish sleep in crevices.

White mouth Moray

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White mouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris
Size: = 100cm
Ecology: Not too common, but can be seen on the Veligandu North dive site up to 35m. Often lives in clear coast and protected inside reefs, mostly between corals and algae.

Yellow Margin Moray

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Yellow margin Moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus
Size: = 125cm
Ecology: Lives in various reef habitats but prefers clear coastal reefs, lagoons reef flats and seaward reefs. Found to 150m depth. – Not common in the Maldives.
Looks similar to the Giant Moray but has a mottle pattern and large individuals have a purplish grey snout. It has a green fringe on the fins and no leopard-like dark blotches. Small juveniles are sometimes yellow with brown mottling.
Feeds on fish and crustaceans.

Jacks

Bluefin Jack

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Bluefin Jack, Caranx melampygus
Length: = 60cm. Bluefin jack normally live in the open water, but when there is a promise of food, they will swim in the shallow water to feed with the sharks on small sardine-like fish. One can always tell when they are in the vicinity, since all small reef fish get frightened and tend to move closer to the reef, regularly seen in bursts.

Giant Jack

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Giant Jack, Cranax ignobilis
Length: = 130cm. Their colour pattern is normally silver, but mature males can turn black to signalize they are fertile at the moment. The normally can be seen in the blue water, but occasionally close to the reefs as well.

Sweetlips

Harlequin Sweetlip

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Harlequin Sweetlip, Plectorhinchus gibbosus
Size: = 75 cm
Common in the Maldives, usually on sheltered reefs with large corals for shelter during the day. Singly or in small groups seemingly related to shelter space. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Oriental Sweetlip

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Oriental Sweetlip, Plectorhinchus orientalis
Size: = 50 cm
Commonly found in caves along drop-offs on outer reefs, usually in groups. Adults easily recognized by the striped pattern. Juveniles are blotched. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Butterfly Fishes

Black Pyramid Butterfly Fish

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Black Pyramid Butterfly Fish, Hemitaurichthys zoster
Size: = 16cm
Ecology: Lives in channels and steep seaward reef slopes from 1 to 35m.
A very common species in the Maldives. Schooling plankton feeders, occurring in large aggregations above upper edges of slopes or coral patches on sand. Very distinctive coloration and readily recognized by the broad white and black pattern on the body and head.
Distribution: Restricted to the western Indian Ocean.

Eclipse Butterfly Fish

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Eclipse or Bennett´s Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon bennetti
Size: = 18cm
Ecology: Lives in lagoon and seaward reefs in areas with rich coral growth between 5 to 30m.
Juveniles hide occasionally in staghorn corals. Adults usually swim in pairs close to reefs. The blue stripes running from the head make the easy to identify from other yellow species. It often feeds on coral like anemones that carpet some reefs areas, but also picks on coral polyps.

Kleins Butterfly Fish

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Kleins Butterfly Fish (Brown Butterfly Fish), Chaetodon kleinii
Size: = 12 cm
Ecology: Mainly in shallow reef flats and in lagoons but may venture into deep water. Usually forms small groups and lives in various habitats with rich algae growth. Juveniles often mix with small surgeon fishes to feed on algae and small crawling invertebrates.
Colouration: Variable brown to yellow-brown.
Distribution: Widespread in the Indo-Pacific

Big Long-nose Butterfly Fish

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Big Long-nose Butterfly Fish, Forcipiper longirostris
Size: = 22cm
Ecology: Shallow inner reefs to upper part of outer reefs walls and deep drop-offs between 5-60m. Nearly always seen in pairs when adult.
Ecology: Picks tiny mobile invertebrates from narrow crevices on reefs and may pick on sea urchins.

Masked Banner Fish

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Masked Banner Fish, Heniochus monoceros
Size: = 28cm
Ecology: Lives in coral-rich areas of shallow lagoon and seaward reefs as well as in caves along deep walls between 2-50m depth. Occasionally found in areas of dead coral with plenty of holes.
Adults are usually in pairs.
Feeds on a mixed diet consisting of benthic invertebrates, especially polychaetes as well as algae.
Adults are best identified by the single black band which is extending vertically from the ventral fins and belly, ending behind the start of the short white banner.

Meyer’s Butterfly Fish

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Meyer´s Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon meyer
Size: = 20cm
Ecology: Mainly found in clear lagoons and on coral rich reef crests near the outer reef walls to depths of about 25m. Adults swim in pairs and appear to be very territorial, often resulting in fights in areas where the fish are common. Juveniles are solitary and secretive among branching corals.
They exclusively feed on corals.

Phantom Butterfly Fish

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Phantom Butterfly Fish, Heniochus pleurotaenia
Size: = 17cm
Ecology: Shallow, coral rich reefs to about 30m depth. In the Maldives the adults often form large schools.
The banner is short in juveniles and lacks in adults. Adults have instead a horn and knob on the forehead. They can be identified by the mostly brown and black coloration. The white band between ventral and anal fins is incomplete.

Raccoon Butterfly Fish

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Racoon Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon lunula
Size: = 20cm
Ecology: occurs in lagoons and seaward reefs between 0-30m, primarily on exposed rocky slopes. Adults usually swim in pairs close to the reef; occasionally in still waters they are seen floating almost motionless high above reefs where other fishes congregate. Juveniles are often among intertidal rocks. They are feeding at day as well as at night on algae and a great variety of invertebrates such as nudibranches, worm tentacles and coral polyps.

Red Tailed Butterfly Fish

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Red Tailed Butterfly Fish (Head-Band Butterflyfish), Chaetodon collare
Size: = 18 cm
Ecology: common in the Maldives and occurs in most habitats to depths of at least 35 m. A schooling species but also forms pairs at times, probably when getting ready to spawn. Large schools often congregate on shallow reefs at about 6 m depth. Readily identified by dusky colour and a red tail fin. Distribution: Indian Ocean species.

Ribbon Butterfly Fish

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Ribbon Butterfly Fish (Pinstriped Butterfly Fish), Chaetodon trifasciatus
Size: = 15 cm
Also called Red-fin or Purple Butterfly Fish.
Ecology: adults swim in pairs or small groups in the shallow of coral rich reefs. Small secretive juveniles live in coral thickets. Feeds mainly on coral polyps. Unique colour patterns and obvious orange anal fin.

Distribution: Widespread in the Indian Ocean, ranging to Bali and Indonesia.

Saddleback Butterfly Fish

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Double-saddle (Saddleback) Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon falcula
Size: = 18cm
Ecology: Inhabits lagoons and inner reefs, often over sand between 1-15m.
Paired or in groups, usually swimming low on the reef. Juveniles are solitary and secretive in the reefs.
Feeds on various invertebrates, including anemones and coral polyps. Easily identified by two black saddles over the back.

Yellow-head Butterfly Fish

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Yellow-head Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon xanthocephalus
Size: = 20cm
Ecology: algae-covered and coral-rich areas from 1-25m. Usually solitary, occasionally in pairs. Juveniles are on shallow protected reef flats in silty lagoons. Feeds on invertebrates and algae.
Adults are recognized by a rich yellow snout and distinctive coloration on dorsal and anal fins.

Hawk Fishes

Arc Eye Hawk Fish

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Arc Eye Hawk Fish (Ring-eye Hawk Fish), Paracirrhites arcatus
Size: = 14 cm
Also called Horseshoe hawk fish. Adults live singly, sometimes in pairs, in small coral heads on exposed, upper reef slopes. Recognizable by the elliptical ring extending from behind the eye. Main body colour from light green to bright red. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Blotched Hawk Fish

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Blotched Hawk Fish, Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus
Size: = 10
Primarily in areas with rich coral cover and in clear lagoon water. Like most hawk fishes, they rest on their thick breast fins. Depth: 1 to 40m. Widespread in the tropical Indo-Pacific.

Forster’s Hawk Fish

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Forster’s Hawk Fish, Paracirrhites forsteri
Size: = 22 cm
Also known as Freckled hawk fish. A common but variable species in the Maldives with several colour forms. Best identified by the numerous dark spots on its head. It lives in reef crests and slopes, usually shallow to about 20 m depth. Forster’s hawk fish feeds on small fish that swim by in front of the exposed block of coral, on which it sits. Widespread in Indo-Pacific.

Angel Fishes

Blue Faced Angel Fish

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Blue Faced Angel Fish, Pomacanthus xanthometopon
Size: = 36 cm
A large beautiful fish tat is easily approached in the Maldives. Normally seen singly along reefs with caves in shallows as well as along deep walls. Adults recognised by their obvious colours.

Emperor Angel Fish

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Emperor Angel Fish, Pomacanthus imperator
Size: = 38 cm
The Emperor Angle fish is also known as Imperial Angle fish. It is very common in the Maldives and can usually be seen roaming the reefs solitarily. They feed on various invertebrates including sponges.
Widespread in the Indo-Pacific, but West Pacific fish develop a trailing filament on dorsal fin.

Regal Angel Fish

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Regal Angel Fish, Pygoplites diacanthus
Size: = 25 cm
Also called Empress-Angelfish in the Maldives. Common on reefs and although mostly solitary, usually occurs in loose groups. Small juveniles live secretively in caves. Feeds primarily on sponges and found on most reefs from shallow crests to almost 80 m. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Three Spot Angel Fish

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Three Spot Angel Fish, Apolemichthys trimaculatus
Size: = 26 cm
Adults occur solitary or in small groups on reef crests and slopes to about 30 m depth, but mostly shallow in the Maldives. Small juveniles usually live on deep slopes. Adults readily identified by the bright yellow colour and blue lips. Feeds on ascidians, sponges and algae. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Parrot Fishes

Bicolour Parrot Fish

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Bicolor Parrotfish, Cetoscarus bicolor
Size: = 80cm
Ecology: clear lagoon and seaward reefs between 1-30m.
Juveniles and sexes differ considerably from each other. Juveniles can be identified by the white body and orange band over the head. Males are bright green with pink markings.
Juveniles are usually solitary, while adults live in harems. Usually found along the upper reaches of coral slopes.

Bridled Parrot Fish

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Bridled Parrotfish, Scarus frenatus
Size: = 45cm
Ecology: lives on reef slopes and drop-offs, mainly on outer reef habitats. Juveniles are found among coral and coral rubble of clear lagoon reefs.
Males are usually seen solitary while females may form small groups, sometimes mixing with other species. Males can be distinguished by head colour and abrupt body colour change to pale green that continues on to the tail; and females by the brown to pink fins.

Ember or Redlip Parrot Fish

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Ember or Redlip Parrotfish, Scarus rubroviolaceus
Size: = 70cm
Both sexes are often bicoloured with the forward half abruptly dark.
Ecology: along deep slopes and drop-offs on inner to outer reefs between 1-30m. They usually live solitary or in large schools.
Females are distinctly marked, males are best identified by the shape of the snout and head coloration.

Five Saddle Parrot Fish

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Five saddle or Dusky-capped Parrotfish, Scarus scaber
Size: = 35cm
Ecology: occurs in large lagoons with coral slopes and on inner reefs, between 1-20m. Often in silty conditions. Usually they live in small groups of mixed sexes.
Readily identified by colour patterns, distinct in both sexes.

Sheephead Parrot Fish

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Indian Ocean Sheephead Parrotfish, Scarus strongylocephalus
Size: = 70cm
Ecology: lagoon, inner reef crests and seaward reefs between 2-35m.
Juveniles are usually solitary, while adults may occur in schools.
The females have distinctive coloration and the males are best identified by the head shape and colours around the eyes and check. This species is very common.

Moorish Idols

Moorish Idol

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Moorish Idol, Zanclus cornutus
Size: = 22 cm
Occurs in most reef habitats from shallow flats to deep outer walls. Swims singly or in pairs and occasionally forms schools to either feed or migrate to other areas. Readily identified by shape and colour. It is common in the Maldives and widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific, ranging into subtropical waters.

Surgeon Fishes

Eye Line Surgeon Fish

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Eye Line Surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigricauda
Size: = 45 cm
Mainly found on protected inner reefs, grazing algae on shallow crests and slopes. Identified by the dark stripe behind the eye and over the tail spine. Variable grey to almost black all over and often shows a white band on the tail. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Lieutenant Surgeon Fish

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Lieutenant Surgeon Fish, Acanthurus tennenti
Size: = 30 cm
Various reef flats and slopes from silty inshore to outer reefs, often in small groups, to about 15 m depth. Identified by the double black stripe behind the head at eye level and a blue line around the tail spine in adults. Widespread in the Indian Ocean.

Powder Blue Surgeon Fish

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Powder-blue Surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon
Size: = 20 cm
A common and spectacular species that often forms large and dense schools in the Maldives. Readily identified by the black face and blue body. Found in most clear water reef habitats to about 20 m depth. Widespread in the Indian Ocean.

Sail Fin Surgeon Fish

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Sailfin Surgeonfish, Zebrasoma desjardinii
Size: = 40 cm
Protected inner reefs and in large lagoons. Adults usually seen in pairs along rubble zones at shallow depths to about 25 m. Juveniles inshore, solitary and seek protection among staghorn corals. Widespread in the Indian Ocean.

Striped Bristle Tooth

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Striped Bristle Tooth (Fine-lined Bristle Tooth), Ctenochaetus striatus
Size: = 25 cm
Forms schools in lagoons along reef slopes with large rubble zones, such as smashed staghorn corals, that have good algae cover. They graze in groups and prefer soft algae. Identified by the numerous thin horizontal lines and spotting around the eye. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Two Spot Bristle Tooth

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Two-spot Bristle Tooth, Ctenochaetus binotatus
Size: = 18 cm
Lives near protected reef slopes with rich invertebrate growth such as large soft corals and where encrusting algae covers rubble and coral bases. Identified by the brown body with numerous thin pale lines, spots on the face and two dark spots above and below the tail fin base. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Big Nose Unicorn Fish

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Big Nose Unicorn fish, Naso vlamingii
Size: = 55 cm
Commonly occurs on clear water reefs along upper regions of deep drop-offs. Often seen in loose groups feeding on plankton well away from reefs in currents. Males often display with intensified blue colours that can quickly change and may go very pale all over when visiting cleaning stations. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Blue Spine Unicorn Fish

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Blue Spine Unicorn Fish, Naso unicornis
Size: = 70 cm
Protected shallow reef with good algae cover. Adults usually live near moderately deep water and seen to about 40 m depth. Juveniles live inshore in algae rich reefs. They feed on the bottom or loose floating weeds.
Identified by the blue spines, juveniles lack the horny protrusion on the head. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Orange Spine Unicorn Fish

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Orange Spine Unicorn fish, Naso literatus
Size: = 45 cm
Lives on shallow inner and outer reef crests and slopes, occasionally seen in deep water. Adults usually in pairs, sometimes forming schools in the Maldives. Identified by the bright orange spines on the tail. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

Spotted Unicorn Fish

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Spotted Unicorn Fish, Naso brevirostris
Size: = 50 cm
Very common in the Maldives on inner to outer reefs along upper parts of slopes and drop-offs. Forms schools in pursuit of plankton at various depths, including on the surface where their horns can be seen protruding above the surface. Males can quickly change colour, showing a broad bluish white band, to impress other members of the species.

Tuna

Dogtooth Tuna

Dogtooth-Tuna

Dogtooth Tuna, Gymnosarda unicolor
Length: = 120cm. Tunas are ocean fishes, but one species can be regularly seen on the reefs, the dogtooth tuna. They are tireless predators of small reef fishes, regularly patrolling along reef edges. They are normally seen alone or in small groups.

Trigger Fishes

Clown Trigger Fish

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Clown Trigger Fish, Balistoides conspicillum
Size: = 50cm
Ecology: clear seawards reefs between 1-75m. Juveniles live in caves below 20m along steep drop-offs; adults are often found on coral rich terraces near steep slopes.
They live solitary and can be seen frequently alongside Kuramathi and near Madivaru.

Indian Trigger Fish

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Indian Trigger Fish, Melichthys indicus
Size: = 25 cm
Mainly on inner reef crests and slopes with mixed rich coral growth
and rubble patches, to about 20 m depth. It digs holes below coral bases for shelter. Identified by general black colour and white lines at dorsal and anal fin bases.

Orange-Striped Trigger Fish

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Orange-striped Trigger Fish, Balistapus undulatus
Size: = 30cm
Ecology: in the coral-rich areas of the lagoon and seaward reefs between 2-50m. Readily identified by greenish colour and yellow to orange lines. Mature males loose most of the orange lines on the snout.
Feeds on corals, sponges, worms, echinoderms, crustaceans, and fishes.

Picasso Trigger Fish

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Picasso Trigger Fish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Size: = 25cm
Ecology: reef flats and shallow protected lagoons and harbours to 4m. Abundant in sandy areas with rubble. Frequently seen in the lagoon and sandbank area of Kuramathi.
They dig their own shelter under solid objects by swimming sand away – meaning that they put their mouth on a solid part and swim like crazy to create a current that takes the sand with it.
Identified by the long snout and colour pattern.
Feeds on a wide variety of benthic invertebrates, fishes and algae.

Red Tooth Trigger Fish

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Redtooth Trigger Fish, Odonus niger
Size: = 40cm
Ecology: current swept seaward reefs between 2-35m. Usually forms aggregations high in water.
Feeds primarily on plankton and occasionally on sponges.
Retreats into holes when frightened or for resting, leaving only the tail filaments visible.

Titan Trigger Fish

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Titan Trigger Fish, Balistoides viridescens
Size: = 75cm
It is the largest triggerfish, also known as Giant triggerfish.
Ecology: sheltered inner reef slopes adjacent to moderately deep water. The male can be aggressive towards snorkelers or divers, but only when caring for eggs. Like all animals, they will first try to impress divers and snorkelers by appearing as big as possible, what fish do by erecting all their fins. When it shows a perfect triangle at its back, just turn around and swim around its territory. When their threat is not seen or understood, they will attack to make sure the eggs are not eaten.

Yellow Margin Trigger Fish

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Yellowmargin Trigger Fish, Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus
Size: = 60cm
Ecology: deep lagoons, channels and sheltered seaward reefs between 2-50m.
Adults are identified by the short horizontal stripes behind the eye and juveniles by the numerous black spots.
Feeds on corals, benthic invertebrates, and tunicates.

Sea Turtles

Hawksbill Turtle

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Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata

The hawksbill turtle is one of the turtles most frequently encountered by scuba divers and snorkellers. This medium sized sea turtle with a beak-like mouth grows to about 90cm and weights 60kg on average. The shell (carapace) is heart-shaped in very young turtles, and becomes more elongate or subovate with maturity. Its lateral and posterior margins are sharply serrated in all but very old individuals. The scutes are overlapping and are commercially used in some countries as tortoiseshell. The species has a pan-tropical distribution. Females nest every two to three years, laying 60-200 eggs at a time.

Green Turtle

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Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas

The green turtle is the second common sea turtle that one can see around the island of Kuramathi, although it is not as common as the hawksbill turtle. It is easily distinguishable from the hawksbill by the rounder carapace and lack of the ‘hawksbill’. Like all sea turtles, green turtles are carnivorous and eat jellyfish, sponges, crabs, octopus and bivalves. Only the adults eat sea grass and algae.
After hatching, they remain their whole life in the water, just the females return to the place they were born themselves every two to three years. They lay 50 to 150 eggs that are laid in a hole dug by the female.