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Wildlife in the Maldives

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Welcome to Wildlife in the Maldives.

You may know Maldives as a dream-like location of crystal clear waters and magnificent views, but it is far more than its beauty; also home to diverse ocean wildlife.

Maldives always surprises tourists with the number of rare wildlife animal species. Learn more about the wildlife in the Maldives here.

Read the entire article or jump to any section you want.

Key Points

TopicKey Points
GeographyThe Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, consisting of around 1,190 individual islands.
ClimateThe Maldives has a hot tropical climate with a dry season (November to April) and a wet season (May to October).
Culture & HistoryMaldivian culture is a blend of influences from Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Arab, Persian, Indonesian, and African sources.
Nature & WildlifeThe Maldives features blue oceans, sandy beaches, and rich marine life, including various fish, sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, and more.
Coral ReefsCoral reefs are the foundation of the islands and house diverse marine life. Conservation efforts are vital.
Wildlife EncountersThe Maldives offers opportunities to encounter hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, dolphins, and various fish.
Conservation ConcernsThe Maldives faces conservation challenges due to climate change, coral bleaching, tourism impact, and resource exploitation.

About the Maldives

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The Maldives is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean that spans the equator, making it one of the world’s most geographically dispersed sovereign states. In particular, it is made up of around 1,190 individual islands.

The Maldives has one of the most peaceful environments anywhere on the planet. Coral reefs are the foundation of the islands. They offer protection to the tiny islands as their natural defense system, so it must be conserved.

Location & Climate

wildlife in the maldives

The Maldives, or the Republic of Maldives, also called the Maldive Islands, is an independent island country in the north-central Indian Ocean.

The Maldives has a year-round hot tropical climate.

The Maldives has two distinct and dominating seasons: a dry season (November to April), punctuated with northeast winter monsoons, and a wet season (May to October) associated with southwest monsoons and strong winds.

Culture & History

wildlife in the maldives
Shopping street with typically colorful house facades in Maafushi a local island in the Maldives.

Historically, the Maldives was an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean. Hence Maldivian culture is a melting pot of various influences gathered from visitors who set foot there over the centuries. Maldivians have assimilated these influences and created their own cultural identity.  

The Maldives’ culture is heavily shaped by Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Arab, Persian, Indonesian, and even African influences.

Maldivians are incredibly warm, welcoming, and friendly people who will go above and beyond to make your holiday unforgettable.

Nature & Wildlife

wildlife in the maldives

Beautiful blue oceans and amazing white sandy beaches characterize the islands that make up the Maldives.

Over 2,000 species of fish are found in the waters surrounding the islands. There are manta, stingrays, eagle rays, and many kinds of anemones and jellyfish.

Natural Attractions

Panoramic view of Maldives islands from sea plane

We have collected some of the best attractions to encounter wildlife in the Maldives.

Hammerhead Point

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Also known as Rasdhoo Madivaru, Hammerhead Point is a demanding dive on an outer reef where hammerhead sharks, mantas, and other large pelagics are frequent visitors.

Outside this reef, the depth drops rapidly to over 200m, and the water is evident. Hammerhead dives usually start before dawn, descending by around 6 am to have the best chance of sightings.

Lankan Manta Point

Green Sea Turtle at an underwater cleaning station where fish feed on the algae growing on the turtle’s shell

Lankan Manta Point is a seasonal dive site on the southeastern side of North Male Atoll, and in the final months of the southwest monsoon season, which runs from May to November, Lankan Manta Point truly comes alive.

The dive site takes its name from the nearby island Lankanfinolhu (which translates to Paradise) and the manta cleaning stations. Regular sightings include white-tip reef sharks, eagle rays, hump head wrasse, barracuda, and hawksbill turtles.

What are cleaning stations?

Manta Ray Cleaning Stations are locations where fish, sharks, and mantas gather to get a regular hygiene check by parasitic copepods and a variety of small cleaner wrasse. Mantas spend some hours of the day here to get their gills, teeth, and skin clean. How amazing is this?

Wildlife in the Maldives

The Maldives’ wildlife includes an array of fruit bats, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, whales, dolphins, reef sharks, turtles, reef and marine fish, manta rays, eagle rays, skinks, geckos and geckos and many more.

Due to the small size of the island nation, there are very few land-based mammals and reptiles (and no domestic dogs). There is only one species of flying fox and one shrew species that are endemic to the islands, and there is only one gecko species and some snakes.

Most mammals and reptiles found in the Maldives are in the water. Whales and dolphins are common, as are sea turtles like the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, and the leatherback turtle. There are also various sea snakes and even saltwater crocodiles. Much like mammals and reptiles, the most common birds in the Maldives are pelagic or ocean birds.

Over 2,000 species of fish are found in the waters surrounding the islands. There are manta rays, stingrays, and eagle rays as well as many kinds of anemones and jellyfish. Octopus, squid, and clams are common, so too are giant clams. 


Sharks love the Maldives archipelago for its ideal waters and abundance of food. You will find different types of reef sharks in the Maldives that are quite beautiful but not harmful to humans Tourists often swim with them during scuba diving in the Maldives.

Shark season is a small window between January and March – the Maldives‘ dry season when the seas are calm – although some species, such as whale sharks, occupy the waters all year round.

f you join a night snorkel/ dive, you might spot a Leopard shark (also known as a Zebra shark). One of the most stunning, but rarely sighted. They belong to a species of Carpet shark and can be found moving around the seabed, close to the coral reefs.

 Divers do have a good chance of spotting scalloped hammerheads. They are medium-sized sharks with slightly scalloped and rounded front edge of their head. They are true carnivores and even feed on other sharks, but are very sfae to encounter from a respectful distance.

  • Whale Shark.
wildlife in the maldives
Surprised divers with whale sharks.

The best place to swim with whale sharks in the Maldives is the South Ari Atoll. They frequent the channel south of the atoll and can be spotted year-round. The best islands for whale shark tours are Dhigurah, Dhangethi and Maamigili.

These incredible sharks are abundant here, specifically in the waters off the South Ari Atoll.

Reef sharks

wildlife in the maldives

Off the reefs you may find hammerheads in Maldivian waters too, as well as graceful, spotted leopard sharks and sinister-looking – though harmless – blacktip reef sharks.

  • Blacktip Reef Shark

Blacktip reef sharks are some of the commonest shark species in the archipelago. They are medium-sized growing up to about 1.6 metres and they have black tips on most of their fins. These sharks live in shallow waters and feed on small fish and marine animals among the reefs.

  • Grey Reef Shark

Grey reef sharks that spend time in shallow water eventually darken in color, due to tanning.

  • White Tip Reef Shark

The Whitetip Reef Shark is demersal on the continental shelves and around oceanic islands and reefs at depths of 0–330 m. Whitetip reef sharks are rarely aggressive towards humans, though they may investigate swimmers closely. 

Conservation concerns

In 2010, a shark sanctuary was implemented in the Maldives when the declining status of shark fisheries and concerns over decreased shark sightings from divers encouraged the government to ban shark fisheries in its waters.

You can support and volunteer at the Maldives Whaleshark research program.


Sea turtle swims under water on the background of coral reefs. Maldives Indian Ocean coral reef.

You will find different categories of turtles, endemic to the wildlife in the Maldives, including Green turtles, leatherback turtle, hawksbill turtle, and many more. Almost half of all the identified green sea turtles in the Maldives live in Lhaviyani Atoll, and nearly all of them can be found around Kuredu.

The Maldives is home to five of the world’s seven sea turtles, two of which are regularly seen, namely the critically endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas).0


wildlife in the maldives

Not only stingrays, but eagle rays and further species can be seen frequently around the Maldives islands. These creatures are best to be observed from a reasonable distance.

Manta rays in the Maldives are present from November to April on the western side of the atolls and from May to October on the eastern side.


A school of Dolphins swimming infront of a boat wildlife in the maldives

The best part of Maldives is its crystal clear waters which help you easily spot a dolphin or any other marine being. So it’s easy to spot a dolphin and they are extremely friendly.

Maldives is famous for different varieties of dolphins, including Fraser’s, Risso’s, Spinner, bottlenose, spotted, and many more. Muli Channel in the Meemu Atoll is rarely known and talked about. But, it is one of the best dolphin spots in the Maldives.

There are only two resorts in Meemu Atoll, Medhufushi Island Resort and Hakuraa Hura.

Coral Reef

coral reef

If you visit Maldives, you will be mesmerized by the numerous reefs available there. You will be able to witness more than 2000 coral reefs there.

The atolls of the Maldives form the central part of a tremendous underwater mountain range stretching for over 2,000 km from the Laccadive Islands, in the north, to the Chagos Islands in the south.

There is a fantastic diversity of sea life in the Maldives archipelago, with corals and over 2,000 species of fish, ranging from colorful reef fish to the Caribbean reef shark, moray eels, and a wide variety of rays: manta ray, stingray, and eagle ray. The Maldivian waters are also home for the whale shark.

Coral reef Conservation status

When seawater exceeds the average maximum seasonal temperature by as little as one degree Celsius for a prolonged duration, the coral reef begins to malfunction. The pristine marine ecosystems of Maldives are threatened by natural factors such as climate change and related factors such as coral bleaching.

They are also threatened by tourism and over-exploitation of resources without considering biodiversity.

Flying Fox/ Fruit Bats

Bat flying in the natural forest , Lyle's flying fox wildlife in the maldives

You will see many of these harmless bats hanging from the trees all around our jungle areas. Fruit bats mostly eat fruit juice and flower nectar. They chew the fruit, spit out the seeds, peel, and pulp.

Fruit bats can be spotted all around the island.

Their distinct squeaking sound will undoubtedly draw your attention. Fruit bats or flying foxes often catch people’s eye in the Maldives. They are often seen around dusk swooping down from the tree tops to sip water from the pool. It is one of the giant bat species in the world, with a wing span of up to 1.5 meters.

Bird Life

Gray heron bird on the beach at Bandos island in Maldives

Over 167 species of bird can be found endemic to the islands of the Maldives. The national bird is the White-breasted waterhen/ Kanbili.

The most commonly seen sea birds are herons, cranes and seagulls. There are more than 12 species of herons, the most common being the grey heron.


Jerry’s Dive Club, Rasdhoo. Offering customizable scuba training experiences with endemic Maldivian wildlife.

Dive into the finest scuba diving experience at Rasdhoo, Maldives! Our diving experts have tremendous experience assisting people in experiencing life under the sea. Rasdhoo Diving is not only a magical experience but an entry ticket to a whole new world. You may as well learn from the best in the Maldives.

Summary of Wildlife in the Maldives

Blacktip sharks

The Maldives is far more than just white, idyllic beaches and clear waters… It is home to countless marine life, bold southeastern culture and cuisine, hospitality, and endless opportunities for tourism, wildlife encounter, and discoveries.

For similar reading, look at wildlife in Thailand and the top 10 wildlife encounters. Which of these animals do you want to visit the most?

Frequently ASked Questions (FAQs)

Why are Maldives so famous?

The Maldives is famous for its stunning natural beauty, including white sandy beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, vibrant coral reefs, and abundant marine life. It’s a popular destination for honeymooners, scuba divers, and those seeking relaxation in a tropical paradise.

What animals are in the ocean in Maldives?

The oceans around the Maldives are teeming with marine life. You can encounter various species of fish, including manta rays, eagle rays, whale sharks, reef sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and various types of colorful reef fish.

What land animals are in the Maldives?

The Maldives has limited land-based wildlife due to its small size. Some of the land animals you might encounter include fruit bats (flying foxes), geckos, and a few other reptiles. There are no native land mammals except for a few bat species.

Why is Maldives water so blue?

The stunning blue color of the Maldives’ waters is primarily due to the clear and clean nature of the ocean, as well as the shallow depths in the surrounding areas. The water’s color is influenced by sunlight penetration and the reflection of sunlight off the white sandy bottom

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