Human activities—hunting, poaching, habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear—have tipped the scales against the survival of some of the stunning and enthralling marine life in the Maldives over the years. Due to the above mentioned reasons the Maldivian government, NGOs, and the resorts in Maldives has been focusing on the conservation of endangered marine life in the Maldives by focusing on the limitation of human-caused damage to marine ecosystems, and on restoring damaged marine ecosystems.
As a result the following spcies are protected under the law. The capturing, killing or trading of these species are punishable under the law of Maldives.
1. Black Coral
Black corals live in the deep and shallow and also have animals living in them called polyps. But their polyps do not make corallite homes like stony or Image of Black Coral Polyphard corals. The polyps live in the skeletal surface instead. Black coral polyps make a black substance that becomes extremely hard and strong. Each polyp has six, small non-retractable tentacles that you can see with your bare eye. This material is built up in circular layers to form a wire-like skeleton. When you cut a branch in half you will see that the layers look like the growth rings of a tree. Black coral colonies are slow-growing so it will take them over 100 years to re-grow and flourish once more.
Out of five marine turtle species identified in the Maldives, Green and Hawksbill turtle are the most common and nest frequently throughout the Maldives. Leatherback is very rare out of the five species and not known to nest in the Maldives. Each species has its habitat and feeding needs. The Green turtle is primarily a vegetarian feeding on sea grass and algae. Hawksbill turtles live on coral reefs and use their long beaks to probe into spaces between corals to find sponges and invertebrates to eat. The Leatherback feeds in the upper layers of the open sea and jellyfish are thought to be an important part of its diet. Little is know of feeding grounds of Loggerhead turtles, but they mainly feed on invertebrates. Olive Ridley feeds mainly on crustaceans.
3. Giant Clams
Giant-Clam The giant clam gets only one chance to find a nice home. Once it fastens itself to a spot on a reef, there it sits for the rest of its life. These bottom-dwelling behemoths are the largest mollusks on Earth, capable of reaching 4 feet in length and weighing more than 500 pounds . They live in the warm waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. Giant clams achieve their enormous proportions by consuming the sugars and proteins produced by the billions of algae that live in their tissues. In exchange, they offer the algae a safe home and regular access to sunlight for photosynthesis, basking by day below the water’s surface with their fluted shells open and their multi-colored mantles exposed.
4. Triton Shell
Most Tritons have a hairy outer covering (periostracum) that protects the shell. Tritons feed on other mollusks and starfish. They secrete a paralyzing fluid that renders their prey helpless, then they insert their mouth part into the shell and eat the soft parts of the animal within. They dwell in tropical and warm waters and feature a thick and solid shell. Their egg capsules attach to rocks while their larvae may be free-swimming for up to three months.
5. Humphed Wrasse
The humphed wrasse is an enormous coral reef fish—growing over six feet long—with a prominent bulge on its forehead. Some of them live to be over 30 years old. They roam through coral reefs in search of hard shelled prey such as mollusks, starfish, or crustaceans. Live reef fish trade in Southeast Asia continues to be a significant problem that threatens the region’s food security as well as its reefs, as poachers often resort to legal and destructive fishing methods to catch them. the Humphed wrasse one of the most expensive live reef fishes in the world.
6. Berried and Small Lobsters
Berried and Small Lobsters have long bodies with muscular tails, and live in crevices or burrows on the sea floor. Three of their five pairs of legs have claws, including the first pair, which are usually much larger than the others. Highly prized as seafood, lobsters are economically important, and are often one of the most profitable commodities in coastal areas they populate.. Although several other groups of crustaceans have the word “lobster” in their names, the unqualified term “lobster” generally refers to the clawed lobsters of the family Nephropidae. Clawed lobsters are not closely related to spiny lobsters or slipper lobsters, which have no claws (chelae), or to squat lobsters. The closest living relatives of clawed lobsters are the reef lobsters and the three families of freshwater crayfish.
Dolphins are highly intelligent marine mammals and are part of the family of toothed whales that includes orcas and pilot whales. They are found worldwide, mostly in shallow seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid. Dolphin coloration varies, but they are generally gray in color with darker backs than the rest of their bodies. Dolphins are well known for their agility and playful behavior, making them a favorite of wildlife watchers. Many species will leap out of the water, spy-hop (rise vertically out of the water to view their surroundings) and follow ships, often synchronizing their movements with one another. Scientists believe that dolphins conserve energy by swimming alongside ships, a practice known as bow-riding.
8. Whale Shark
The whale shark, like the world’s second largest fish, the basking shark, is a filter feeder. In order to eat, the beast juts out its formidably sized jaws and passively filters everything in its path. The mechanism is theorized to be a technique called “cross-flow filtration,” similar to some bony fish and baleen whales. Preferring warm waters, whale sharks populate all tropical seas. They are known to migrate every spring to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia. The coral spawning of the area’s Ningaloo Reef provides the whale shark with an abundant supply of plankton.
Whales are large, intelligent, aquatic mammals. They breathe air through blowhole(s) into lungs (unlike fish who breathe using gills). Whales have sleek, streamlined bodies that move easily through the water. They are the only mammals, other than manatees (sea cows), that live their entire lives in the water, and the only mammals that have adapted to life in the open oceans. The biggest whale is the blue whale, which grows to be about 94 feet (29 m) long – the height of a 9-story building. These enormous animals eat about 4 tons of tiny krill each day, obtained by filter feeding through baleen. Adult blue whales have no predators except man. The smallest whale is the dwarf sperm whale which as an adult is only 8.5 feet (2.6 m) long.
Rays are formidable creatures of the ocean, Manta Rays, Sting Rays and Eagle Rays are the commonest rays in the Maldivian waters. The Manta Ray which grow up to 5 meter, is the largest ray in the World. Manta rays are also known as “horned rays” because of the two small fins on their head. They take in small fish and plankton while swimming and drain out the water. Manta rays are not aggressive.