The Maldives

  • There are approximately 1190 island in the Maldives with some form of vegetation on them.
  • Approximately 200 are inhabited island and 990 are uninhabited.
  • There are 26 distinct geographical atolls. These are divided into 20 administrative regions, with the capital Malé making up a separate administrative unit.
  • The Maldives is 800 km long and 130 km wide.
  • More than 99% of the country is water (115,000 km2) with less than 0,3% land (300 km2).

Map of the Maldives (source: www.livelearn.org)

 

Map of the Maldives (source: www.livelearn.org)

Emboodhoo island

 

Emboodhoo island

 

Protected Marine Areas

To the first of July 2019 there were 61 Protected Marine Areas (PMA's) in the Maldives. PMA's were first established in the Maldives on World Enivironmental Day, June 5, 1995, when the Government announced the establishment of 15 Protected Marine Areas within the major tourist atolls.

PMA's have been selected in recognition of their biodiversity and importance for protecting marine species and their habitat. One of the largest PMA's is PMA South Ari Atoll, a globally significant aggregation site for whale sharks with an area 5595 ha, while one of the smallest is a mangrove ecosystem on the island of Huraa in North Male Atoll with an area of 6 ha. Another land-based PMA is Hithadhoo in Addu Atoll. It has an area of 803 ha and contains a large fresh/brackish water pond and mangrove forest. The PMA's include two bird breeding and turtle nesting islands and their lagoons (Olugiri in Baa Atoll and Hithadhoo in Gaafu Alifu Atoll), and one island of geomorphic interest for coral reef formation and endemic vegetation (Hurasdhoo in Alifu Dhaalu Atoll). On June 28, 2011 a World Biosphere Reserve was declared in Baa Atoll by UNESCO (Baa Atoll PMA, area of 121,521 ha).

Read more: Protected Marine Areas

Turtles

There are 45 islands in several atolls listed as turtle nesting islands, of which 16 islands are protected. Turtles and their eggs are vulnerable to poachers. They are also then prone to death as a result of entanglement in ghost fishing nets and ingesting plastic. Plastic bags floating in the water can be easily confused with jellyfish, which the turtles feed on. There are eight species of sea turtles, of which five are known to occur in the Maldives. The most commonly seen are the Hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata and the Green turtle Chelonia mydas. Most of the nesting islands are Green turtles velaa and both adults and immature turtles are found throughout the archipelago. Other species include the Olive Ridley turtle Lepidochelys olivacea, which are more common offshore, and the Leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea, which are both rarely seen.

Maldives Map
Copyright © Atoll Editions 2017

Mangroves, Wetlands and Lakes

There are around 80 islands listed with having mangroves, wetlands and lakes. Many wetland areas are tidal or semi-enclosed, while others are fully enclosed with freshwater or brackish lakes. The total area of lakes is estimated at around 195 ha, which is relatively small to compared to the total Maldives land area of 21,372 km2. These are biological diverse and economically significant areas that offer protection for many marine, plant and bird species. They also function as nursery areas for many shark, ray and fish species found in the Maldives.

Maldives Map
Copyright © Atoll Editions 2017

Birds

There are 70 species of birds listed as protected in the Maldives. Their capture, trade and keeping in captivity is prohibited under the Environment Protection and Preservation Act. Many islands and sandbanks act as resting places for protected migratory birds, while others are used for nesting. 29 islands are bird resting islands. Of these, at least three are of significance. Olugiri in Baa Atoll is a regular roosting island for the Lesser Frigate (Fregata ariel) and a breeding island for tropical birds. Hithadhoo in Gaafu Alifu Atoll is an important roosting site for shearwaters and boobies, while Finolhu in Alifa Dhaalu Atoll is a sandbank for egg-laying terns.

Maldives Map
Copyright © Atoll Editions 2017