Haalu kihineh a haren nakee The Maldives,
After the tremendous success of the animation “Finding Nemo” – with its powerful ecological message – there was an immediate upsurge in demand for aquarium fish, especially the clownfish species made famous by the main character. Did it ever occur to the people who wanted the cute little reminders of their cinema experience that maybe they had somehow missed the point? The consumer reaction was diametrically opposed to the thrust of the message. They hadn’t merely missed the point, but they had missed it spectacularly.
As a teacher, I’ve long since given up wondering how or why such people can act in such an illogical way. Nonetheless, it was perplexing for many people, not least I imagine, the makers of the film. They must have despaired about the aftermath.
Here on the incomparable Vakarufalhi, Linda and I have snorkelled around the fringing reef and spotted plenty of the clownfish. They’re living precisely where they belong (and safe from the capture by profiteering aquarium businesses eager to fill the untapped demand of the credulous numbskulls who might want to buy them).
The reef rings the island and creates a superb turquoise pool with sandy bottom all the way around. Just outside, there are all three types of coral formations in ample profusion and in lots of colours. Darting in and around are innumerable multi-coloured fish, including the clownfish.
variety in the fish population
The variety of the fish population was something of a surprise for me, since the reef here is much smaller than say, the Great Barrier Reef. The colours were just as vibrant as you might see in coral reefs anywhere. One highlight for us was being almost surrounded at one stage by two different schools. One was of a few hundred brilliant blue/yellow/black/white fish about the size of an entrée plate. The other was a few hundred transparent silver blue fish. There are also grotesque fish and clams as well as the little sand volcanoes underneath. It’s a great sight and well worth the effort.
Curiously, there are quite a few visitors here who don’t bother to don the flippers and mask. Instead, they venture into the turquoise about waist deep. Don’t even conjecture why, dear reader. That would be a waste of your time.
Snorkelling around with no time constraints, one quickly and happily loses orientation. Linda and I have not yet covered all the nooks and crannies. Rather than feeling the urge to catch these magnificent animals, we know exactly what a privilege it is to share the underwater space with them. This is the place to marvel at the creations of nature; not the household fish tank. And the reef sharks don’t bother us either. Anyway, back to the water!