Untitled Document


Dating the Maldivian Whales and Dolphins
January 2010 & October 2012

January 2010
striped6 pilot3
Waters between the atolls of Maldives are merely a few hundred metres deep, while waters that are a bit further away from the outer edge of the country can reach as deep as 3000 metres or more.  There are two seasons in the Maldives, namely the Northeast monsoon and the Southwest monsoon.  The monsoon wind will stir up the water in the deep sea, bringing up nutrients to provide food for all sorts of creatures in the marine food chain, including whales and dolphins.  Because of this, a high diversity of cetaceans with shallow and deep water habitats can be found in the Maldivian waters.

The eight days’ sea safari was led by Dr Chas Anderson, cetacean expert of the Indian Ocean.  Dr Anderson has been working on cetacean research in the Indian Ocean for over 20 years and he is well acquainted with the whales and dolphins there.  He raises his research funding through organizing whale and dolphin watching tours.

Cetacean species that can be commonly seen in the Maldives include Spinner dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Indo-pacific bottlenose, Risso’s dolphin, Spotted dolphin, Striped dolphin, Shortfin pilot whale, False killer whale, Dwarf sperm whale and Cuvier’s beaked whale.  There is also a chance to see Blue whale, Bryde’s whale, Sperm whale, Fraser’s dolphin, Pygmy killer whale, Melon headed whale, Killer whale, Dense-beaked whale, Longman’s beaked and Rough-toothed dolphin.

In this seven days’ trip, I have encountered 8 cetacean species, namely striped dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, spinner dolphins, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphin, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, as well as blue whales, the largest creature on earth.

striped1 striped2
striped3 striped4
Striped dolphin
spotted rissos
Pan-tropical spotted dolphin Risso’s dolphin
spinner1 spinner2
spinner3 spinner4
spinner5 spinner6
Spinner dolphin
pilot1 pilot2
Pilot whale
commonbottlenose indopacificbottlenose
Bottlenose dolphin Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin
bluewhale1 bluewhale2
Blue whale

The underwater world of the Maldives is fabulous.  If you have a chance to go snorkelling, it would be really nice to have a closer look at the colourful fishes and corals.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

October 2012

Getting back to the Maldives two years later in a different season is another unforgettable experience. Because of the monsoon, we sailed mainly along the east side of Maldives this time.

During the 7 days at sea, we had encountered a total of 11 species. They are as follows:

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Spinner Dolphin, Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, Risso's Dolphin, Pilot Whale, Blainville's Beaked Whale / Dense Beaked Whale, Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Dwarf Sperm Whale, Striped Dolphin, Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Longman's Beaked Whale

The wind was quite strong at the first few days which make cetacean spotting difficult and hence sightings not very good. Fortunately, the wind dies down and gave us a mirror calm sea towards the later half of our trip. It was on a flat calm day that we encountered the rarely seen Blainville's Beaked Whale (also known as Dense Beaked Whale). Due to the elusive nature of most beaked whales, we had been following the pair for more than two hours before we could have a good look at them from a distance.

In the afternoon on the same day, we encountered another kind of beaked whale – the Cuvier's Beaked Whale. Again, we had to spend some time waiting and guessing where they would surface base on the professional knowledge of Dr. Anderson. Although the whale showed his face right next to our boat, I was not fast enough to catch that magical moment. This is what I got.

It was unbelievable to have encounters with two types of beaked whale within one day. Everyone on board was happy, joking that it would be nice to see the Longman's Beaked Whale the next day. And we did have our wish granted! Thanks to Dr. Anderson's effort and our tour mate Tony's sharp eyes, we ‘bumped' into a group of Longman's Beaked Whales that were mixed with a group of Pilot Whales and Common Bottlenose Dolphins. We almost missed it. This time, they were quite close to our boat!

Photos of other cetaceans encountered during the trip:

Spinning Spinner Dolphins

Jumping Striped Dolphins

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins at sunset

Friendly Pilot Whales

Pantropical Spotted Dolphins

We did go snorkeling as usual. But the water was so filled with planktons that it was too murky for nice pictures.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Best season:
February to April and October to November when the condition is calm, which increases the opportunity to spot cetaceans.

Airlines (from Asia):
Malaysian Airline
Singapore Airline

Live aboard Safari Tour (has to confirm booking in advance):
Website: http://www.whale-and-dolphin.com/
Email: info@whale-and-dolphin.com