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April 25, 2015

It would have been ashame to wake up before the sunrise and never snap a photo…I finally did…check!

photo (91) sunrise

Today marked our final day of diving. We only had two dives scheduled today as we had to comply with the 24 hour waiting period before we could fly. Our first dive was at Miyaru Kandu, another channel. Again we were looking for big stuff. I suppose those who really get excited over sharks and the like were disappointed as there was not much to see, so again we swam across the channel to the reef instead of dropping down to watch sharks circle.

I was perfectly content with looking at the reef as it is such a large Eco-system. There always seems to be something I haven’t noticed previously. This reef was extremely healthy. All sorts of coral offered a living area for a variety of marine life. I only wish I had the camera this time. Rootie and the rest of my group were intent on finding something in the deep blue where the wall just dropped off, and they had the cameras so there are not any photos to show what I saw, only a few shots of two napoleons, a shark, and a tuna that they spotted. I missed the tuna, but saw the rest while in the meantime I found five eels in about two minutes, two octopus, a stone fish, a turtle, and a sea cucumber feeding which I had never seen previously. I didn’t even know they had 10 to 30 leaf-like tentacles that extend over the coral to feed on algae. It was totally cool. At the end of the dive we came upon several schools of fish too.

For our final dive, we motored north to South Male Atoll to dive at Vilivaru Eiri. This was a lovely site with soft and hard corals, anemones, and a variety of fish. I got to have the camera most of time because the dive briefing included nudibranch which I think are so cool to find because they are hard to spot. It’s funny, every time a nudibranch was mentioned in a dive briefing, I hardly ever saw one, but when they weren’t mentioned, I saw several! Regardless, the clownfish cooperated for a change, and I finally snapped a good photo of it. I was in search of a certain type of angelfish to try to get a final good shot, but I didn’t find one. We did find filefish, clams, two scorpionfish, some octopus, lizardfish, a boxfish, and bannerfish just to name a few. It was a nice final dive, though at 70 feet, deeper than I expected.

A perk on the Orion was that the crew washed all of our dive gear and hung it out to dry. I liked that!

IMG_1567 dive gear

For the afternoon, we took a tour of Male with Hassan who we could hardly understand. I suppose his English was better than our Dhivehi though. The town was busy practicing for its 45th Independence Day celebration on July 26th. High school students marched in a band. The military was practicing spinning their guns. Water sports of all sorts took place in the harbor. Guys wearing the water jet packs put on show for spectators.

I understand there is quite a bit of political unrest in the Maldives currently (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/02/maldives-arrests-opposition-leaders-imran-abdulla-violent-protests). Fortunately, we visited on a peaceful day.

We visited some traditional mosques, though we were not allowed to enter. I liked the Old Friday Mosque mostly made of coral where Rootie washed her face and feet with the well water which was the tradition before entering. The Grand Friday Mosque, from the outside, didn’t seem too exciting, though the Maldivians are proud of it, so it’s worth noting. After swinging by the president’s residence, we found a 1,500 year old tree in the sweltering park with no breeze. Soon we visited the fish market and the vegetable market which is always one of my favorite places to see in foreign countries. One vendor selling beetle nut was so friendly to us! We stopped in a tourist shop which had air-conditioning, a welcome treat! We even got some ice cream. Finally, something cold. With every modern building, another was dilapidated. For every boat, which filled the harbor, there were ten times as many scooters. It was nice to visit the local town, but I was happy to take the Dhoni back to the MV Orion.

Next on the list, Dubai. Good-Bye to our friends and the Orion…ETB

IMG_5354 orion

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