Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jinnathugau underwater April 2015

Bill on Zephyr took these with his underwater camera one morning as we were snorkeling along a reef edge.  The coral and fishes are typical of what we'd see, but there are lots more kinds of fish than what are shown here.  He ran out of battery and then his camera housing broke, so these are the only shots we have.  If you don't like blue, just skip this one.  So many shades of blue in the water, fish and coral here.
 These are like the Dory fish from "Finding Nemo".  They are everywhere here in large schools.
 Lots and lots of coral.  This frilly lettuce leaf coral is actually hard and brittle.
 Brain coral is so aptly named.

 Staghorn coral.  The new growth is the same blue as the fish above.
 We saw lots of angelfish like the one on the left here.
 A couple of parrot fish in the midst of this group.  You could hear the constant crunching of them scraping coral with their teeth.
 A nice shot of a parrot fish over coral rubble.
 These guys would travel in packs, all munching on the same area of coral and then moving as a mass to another place.  Like a traveling eating club.
Another school of the blue and yellow fish.
Close up of two of them.
 This is a spongy coral or sponge we saw sometimes in a yellow-green color.
 The coral polyps make this look frilly and soft.
 Looking down the wall into the blue abyss.  Out there is where we often saw white tip sharks and rays.  We did see a group of seven spotted eagle rays flying over the shallow coral one day in a formation.  They came within six feet of us to have a look and then, with a tiny flap of the wing, they shot off.  Three of them circled back to have another look at us and then they were gone.  To see seven of them together was pretty cool.
 The fish seem to mix easily.

 A few sergeant majors in the coral reef.
 The big plate corals and staghorns were the most prevalent of all we saw.  They were everywhere.
 A school of small fish trying not to become someone's breakfast.
 Typical coral garden view.
 Some spadefish and plate corals.
 These are grunts I think.  They seem to swim in river-like ribbons and at times they'd be on both sides of us as we snorkeled.
A few Moorish idols mixed in.  They have a long white streamer off their top fin.

 A giant clam.  Boring brown and gold, but they come in such vibrant blues and purples, too.
 A mushroom coral sitting on a plate coral.  Lots of other shells and things end up on these large plate corals.  We found some of the best shells crawling on these, but often they had inhabitants in them so we left them be.  I found a mushroom coral that seemed to be two joined at right angles and they'd grown into a cross--very unusual but no picture of it.  It was still alive, so I put it back in a place similar to where I'd found it.
 A wrasse in a coral garden.
 Big parrotfish in a coral garden.  This guy is probably two feet long.
 These little brown nodules seemed to grow on other coral.  Not so pretty, but interesting and always in the shallow waters.
 A snorkel-nosed fish far away.
 Another brain coral

North Male Atoll April 2015

Sunrise in Asdhoo
 Our anchorage view in Asdhoo/Asdu looking over the reef.
The tiny resort island of Asdhoo/Asdu.  We didn't go ashore the first time we were here, but decided we liked the place well enough to come back when Margaret came to visit the next week.  It was close enough to get to/from within her visit, too, without having to rush to meet a schedule or reach an airport for her to get back in time to catch her flight back to Sydney.
Life on YOLO at Asdhoo.
Seaplanes were more abundant by far than regular jet airplanes around here.
Margaret just after arrival.  She's slathered with sunscreen and ready to get wet and snorkel.
We decided to take the ferry to Male the first day and see the big city here before leaving the harbour at Hulhumale.  The chairs were simply plastic deck chairs with the legs cut off and the seats bolted to the benches on the boat. The ferries were always full and ran every 15-20 minutes back and forth from Male to Hulhumale.  Cost about 50 cents each way for a 20 minute ride.
The ferry terminal in Male.  The green ferry is like the one we just got off of.  Fenders always seem to be old tires.
A side street in Male.  Margaret marching down the lane with motorcycles parked from one end to the other. If we pushed one over at the end, do you think they'd all tumble like dominoes?
The sign says "The President's Office" but we aren't sure what is really behind the green door.  It was an official place of some sort, so who knows?
Coconuts and a local fruit that looks like the bunches we see on pandanus trees.  They gave us a taste but it was pretty bland and not to my liking.
First stop in the market was this stall where we got chilled coconuts to drink.  This guy was looking around as he cut the tops off the coconuts.  Surprised he has any fingers left.  Those gotta be very sharp knives to cut through coconut husks.
Hot chiles in the market.  Those look like habanero peppers on the left and the ones on the right are the  hot ones from Sri Lanka
A war veteran memorial in Male.
The minaret and gold dome of a mosque in Male
That's Margaret out on the dock near the stairs and Jason digging out the keys to our dinghy there at the ferry jetty in Hulhumale on our return from Male.  We had to suspend the dinghy between the stairs and the wall to avoid the sharp rusted metal corners that puncture inflatable dinks.
Margaret and Jason enjoying sundowners on the foredeck of YOLO.
Our snorkel gear out on the trampolines for a rinse after a day's snorkeling.  Luckily we got a nice downpour one day and filled our wash buckets so we could rinse us and the gear without using our drinking water.
Sunset in the Maldives, probably at Asdhoo.
Margaret taught us some new card games and we are playing cards inside after a morning snorkel and avoiding the midday heat.  Jason is ready for a haircut.
Margaret getting ribbed about using her smartphone while on holiday playing cards in the Maldives.
Karen giving Jason a haircut on the transom.  Just gotta make sure the wind is blowing the hair away from the boat.  Those dog clippers do a fine job!
Margaret showing her prize spider conch that she snorkeled down and grabbed off a sandy anchor spot on a reef in the middle of nowhere.  She had claimed she couldn't get down snorkeling, but after a few brief instructions, she grabbed this shell from about 15-18 feet down.
A beautiful spider conch that Margaret brought up.  It was still very much alive, so we had to put it back down after the photos.

Margaret helped out in the galley and taught me how to make a delicious mung dahl.
YOLO sitting over a coral bommie.  Underwater beauty at my feet, literally!  Those are my toes hanging off the transom of the boat and that water is about 20' deep here.  Lots of this kind of coral around here.  We found many crown-of-thorns starfish in the reefs near Asdhoo and they are bleaching and killing a lot of the reef, especially the plate corals.  The starfish is bright blue with black spines that look deep red when the sun shines across them.  Pretty but deadly for the coral.
A selfie of Karen!
Looking over the side of the boat, this is what we saw.
Margaret out swimming around YOLO.  We did have to pay attention to the currents as they could sweep quite strongly over the shallow parts of the reef.
Margaret and Karen on YOLO.
Walking along the dock in Male towards the public market.  These boats make up the fishing fleet and the fresh fish market.
A guy on the boat cleaning a big fish and cutting it into large chunks, probably to sell.
Ice here is almost non-existent.  But the fishermen need ice to keep their catch fresh.  These guys were dragging buckets of the stuff across the deck of the boat to put on the fish.
The laundry of the guys on the boat.  Hang 'em whereever you can.
Hands of bananas at the corner of the market.
Sunrise over still waters in the Maldives.
Dolphins came out to play between the bows as we were motoring away from picking up Margaret.  She was thrilled.  And the water was so still she could get these great photos of them.
Dolphins playing in our bow wave on YOLO as we headed to Asdhoo.
Dolphins and more dolphins.
You can see my shadow standing at the bow as I take this photo.  Yes, the water in the Maldives really IS that pretty!  And clear.  So nice for snorkeling the reefs.  A pretty place.