Flora and Fauna in Maldives For A Wild Holiday

Flowers

1. Pink Rose (Rosa polyantha

Pink Rose - the national flower in Maldives
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The national flower of Maldives, this beautiful flowering plant is a bright pink colored fantasy, which is as attractive as it is delicate. Locally called Finifenmaa, this was named the National Flower way back in 1985 and is revered among the locals. It is used in ceremonies as well. You can spot it growing in exotic gardens, or even in well-tended plots.

Where to find: Throughout the country

2. Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)

Coconut palm in Maldives
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This is a common sight in all tropical destinations, but the humble coconut palm assumes significance in the Maldives because it is the national tree! Boasting of many uses, the coconut palm also gives rise to the informal national fruit, the coconut. Next time you sip out of tender coconut, know that you're indulging in something royal!

Where to find: Throughout the country

3. Fan Flower (Scaevola taccada)  

Fan Flower in Maldives
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This white, delicate beauty is fascinating to look at because it appears as though it has been cut in half! This may leave you wondering if pesky flower pickers have been at it again, but rest assured. This unique flower's very speciality is that the petals always look half-plucked. An interesting photo-op indeed!

Where to find: Throughout the country, especially in Baa Atoll

4. Frangipani (Pumeria sp.)

Frangipani in Maldives
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This flower has a centers role to play in rituals, welcome gestures and decorations alike because of its enchanting fragrance, unique to this plant. Not only is this tree an ornamental delight, but its flowers are long-lasting, fragrant and a brilliant shade of pristine white, pale pink and dusty yellow.

Where to find: Throughout the country

5. Beach Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus

Beach hibiscus in Maldives
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This tropical wonder is breathtaking because it turns colors! When it first blooms, it is a bright shade of sun-kissed yellow. After a while, it becomes a shade of blood red. When it eventually falls, these flowers create a floral carpet beneath the trees, making for some amazing site.

Where to find: Throughout the country

Birds


There are approximately 170 species of birds found on the island, but most are migratory. The most common birds include the common crow, the mynahs and the white-breasted water hen. All these birds are commonly spotted in the atolls, but you are sure to find them all in the Baa Atoll.

1. Large Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)  

Large grey heron in Maldives
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This bird is found all over the atolls, especially in Baa Atoll. You can easily identify the bird by its black mane and grey plumage, accentuated by a curved beak. See if you can spot this wise bird standing stoic and still on one leg!

Where to find: Baa Atoll

2. White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus)  

White-tailed tropicbird in Maldives
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Usually found in uninhabited islands of the Maldives, the locals refer to these birds as 'Dhadifulhudhooni'. That's a mouthful, isn't it? Speaking of mouthfuls, these birds are known to catch fish deftly in their mouths (well, beaks), making them trusty companions of local fishermen.

Where to find: Throughout the country

3. White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus

White-breasted waterhen found in Maldives
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The national bird of the Maldives, these waterhens are known for their peculiar call that is part-dove and part-hen, right after the monsoon. You can find these friendly birds wandering around most atolls.

Where to find: Throughout the country

4. White Tern (Gygis alba)  

White tern in Maldives
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This adorable bird is famed for its famous flights across islands during the migratory season. Distinctly recognized by its stark black beak and pristine white plumage, this bird is easy to spot along the coasts during the breeding season, as it frequents coral islands.

Where to find: Baa Atoll

5. Mynah (Acridotheres tristis

Mynah found in Maldives
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These gorgeous songbirds are friendly, cheeky and absolutely adorable. Their characteristic call is hard to miss, as is their yellow-spotted beak and vibrant plumage, made of black, brown, white and blue feathers. Talk about fall aesthetics! Prepare to be greeted by mynah calls every morning as you wake up in the Maldives.

Where to find: Throughout the country

Marine Life

1. Rays 

Manta ray in Maldives
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Manta rays, stingrays, and eagle rays densely populate the area around Baa Atoll, especially at Hanifaru Bay. These rays can grow to an enormous size, making them a marvel to look at! You can feed them and swim with them, as many resorts offer swimming trips at Baa.  

Where to find: Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll

2. Dolphins

Dolphins in the Maldives
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No tropical vacation is complete without swimming with dolphins. These friendly, intelligent mammals are often thought to be even more intelligent than humans. You can spot bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso's dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, Fraser's dolphins, and spotted dolphins at Hanifaru Bay. The shallow waters make for perfect sites for dolphins, which makes it a tourist hotspot as well. 

Where to find: Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll

3. Whales  

Pilot whale in maldives
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Behold the largest of the mammals, the whale! You can spot killer whales, pilot whales, sperm whales, blue whales, Bryde's whales, Longman's Beaked whales, Blainville's Beaked whales and Cuvier's Beaked whales in the Maldives. The most commonly spotted blue whales and sperm whales, which are large and gentle creatures. Next time you're on a cruise there, watch out for them!  

Where to find: Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll

4. Eels 

Zebra moray eel found in Maldives
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Eels make for an interesting company while scuba diving and snorkeling in Maldives, with their cheeky and slithery movements. The different varieties of eels found in here include the zebra moray eel, honeycomb moray eel, and the giant moray eel. They are common in the ocean surrounding the entire island.

Where to find: Throughout the country

5. Turtles 

Green turtle in Maldives
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The Maldives was an important nesting ground for turtles, but the number steadily lessened through the years due to poaching activities. Today, special regulations are in place to conserve turtles and redeem their numbers. You can spot green turtles, Olive Ridley turtles, hawksbill turtles, and leatherback turtles in Baa Atoll!

Where to find: Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, Raa Atoll

6. Fishes 

Picasso triggerfish in Maldives
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Maldives is host to more than a hundred species of fish, making it an ecological hotspot where a unique blend of water temperature, salinity and habitat allow many fishes to flourish. This makes ita paradise for divers, as you are sure to witness some magnificent fish during your underwater adventures. Some of them include the yellowfin tuna, which is the National Fish of the Maldives, the blue blanquillo, clown squirrelfish, immaculate soldierfish, Chinese trumpet fish, coral rabbitfish, humpback red snapper, yellow butterfly fish, longfin bannerfish, raccoon butterflyfish, black-wedge butterflyfish, threadfin butterflyfish, coral hawkfish, Indian damselfish, the Maldivian clownfish, ember parrotfish, powder blue tang, elongate surgeonfish, yellow-tailed surgeonfish, clown triggerfish, Picasso triggerfish, honeycomb toby, leaf fish, reef stonefish, spotfin lionfish, and the white-lined lionfish. Make sure you take a camera underwater to capture these breathtaking sights! The main hotspots for these fish are the Baa and the Raa Atolls.

Where to find: Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, Raa Atoll

Corals

Coral reefs in the Maldives
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The tropical island is most popular for its exotic varieties of corals, in all colors of the rainbow! From varieties like Acropora, Pachyseris, Turbinaria, Diploastrea, Echinopora, brain coral, Pocillopora, soft coral, blue corals, red algae corals, blue-green corals and mushroom corals, the entire archipelago is dotted with brilliant and large coral reefs, which make for some splendid diving sights. You can also explore underwater caves and maybe even find some rare, undiscovered fish. Coral varieties found in the Maldives include the Acropora austera, A. clathrata, A. cytherea, A. digitifera, A. echinata, A. gemmifera, A. globiceps, A. hemprichii, Turbinaria mesenterina, D. helipora, D. pallida, P. elegans, and P. verrucosa.

Where to find: Most resorts have in-house reefs that boast of vast coral reefs, but the best ones are found at Baa Atoll

Where to Spot Wildlife in the Maldives?

Diving at Baa Atoll in Maldives
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Most atolls have their own house reefs, where you can spot most marine life, corals and birds. You can find insects and lizards fairly commonly. The Baa Atoll is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which means that you can find almost all the wildlife mentioned, there. Many tour packages offer exclusive coverage of the entire atoll, covering all important sites and making sure to sight all the animals in their natural habitat. In Hanifaru Bay at Baa Atoll, you are sure to site rays, dolphins and whales, making it a crowd favourite. The coral reefs at Baa are also breathtaking!

This post was published by Nivedha Narayanaswamy

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