Dive Sites: Diving the Inner Reef

The inner reef or ‘etherevaru’  on the eastern fringe of Laamu Atoll is a fairly unbroken shallow coral reef, extending around 30km from the southern most channel, right up to Mundhoo Kandu.
Here we see a typical example of the inner reef; this is directly in front of the diving center. The shallow sandy area leading away from the island is only a couple of meters deep and holds a surprising amount of fish life: octopus, eagle rays, mantis shrimp, robust ghostpipefish, stingrays and snake eels can all be seen in this area. Next is a type of barrier reef which is sometimes exposed in places during the lowest tides. These barrier reefs serve to protect the island from storms- the corals range from large boulder corals to fast-growing branching corals which get broken down by big waves to form a kind of limestone cement, holding everything together.
From there we move over a sandy shelf with isolated coral patches at about 6m/20ft. This sandy shelf again holds a variety of cryptic and juvenile fishes. Sea grasses grow here also and it is possible to see large green turtles munching away. Finally there is the reef slope which falls away gradually to around 25m/85ft. Along this reef in shallow water species like leaf-fish are surprisingly common and other photographic opportunities exist such as harlequin filefish, trumpetfish, lionfish, passing eagle rays and even mantas.
Between the many small islands which makes up the eastern rim of Laamu Atoll lie unexplored shallow areas which may hold an abundance of macro life. As the atoll has very few true channels, the tidal flow between the small islands is very strong which may prove to be a mecca for juvenile fish species as well as benthic (bottom dwelling) animals like rays which can enjoy the oxygenated waters. We have found that diving deeper in the gaps between the eastern islands can be rewarding with different rays, turtles and other smaller organisms which drift in the current before settling on the reef such as the ornate ghost pipefish. Frogfish have also been found on the inner reef…. just not by us yet 😦

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