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MALDIVESMirihi WreckJust 50 metres off the white beach of Mirihi Island lies the Madige, resting almost perfectly upright on the sandy sea floor at 28m. After a productive life shipping goods within the Maldives, the Madige was intentionally scuttled in September 2000, with the purpose of becoming an additional attraction for the divers visiting Mirihi Island Resort. In the decades since, the Madige has become a rich and colourful ecosystem in its own right. Every square centimetre covered in colourful sponges, tunicates and hard and soft coral, the wreck has become home to a large group of tiger cowries, which have found refuge under the hull.
They come out at night, extend the mantles over their shells, and wander around the sand looking for food. Their neighbours are a school of serene batfish floating around the bow watching the divers curiously.
A group of goatfish graze at the bottom while juvenile blue-fin and banded trevallies patrol the wreck as if it were theirs. In the nooks and crannies of the Madige hide all kinds of invertebrates – Durban dancing shrimps peek out of the broken railings and banded boxer shrimp use the wreck as a nursery. Most recently, cheeked pipefish babies thin as a spaghetti have been found on the bow of the ship.
But it is at night that the wreck shows its true colours. Neon orange Faulkner’s corals extend their tentacles to feed. Two fully grown red bass circle back and forth between the reef and the wreck, following the divers on their tour. The resident yellow-margin triggerfish will sometimes get a little too close, but OceanPro’s dive staff confirm that it is just curious and often accompanies the divers almost to their safety stop.
The absolute stars of the wreck though are the big surprises. Sometimes the resident white-tip reef sharks or a visiting Jenkins whip ray sleep at the keel of the Madige. Once a snoozing giant porcupine stingray or a guitarfish that is known to live in the area was found snoozing at the bottom. And very recently, some lucky divers watched a group of 15 shy nurse sharks circling the wreck for a series of afternoons.
Did you know?The Maldives is better known for sharks and drift dives, but there are several wrecks just waiting to be explored by divers.Essential informationLocation: South Ari Atoll, the Maldives Depth: Max of 28m Diver level: Beginner to advanced Who to dive with Diving Centre OceanPro www.mirihi.com/ocean-pro-diving
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USNS General Hoyt S Vandenberg
Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver is an independent publisher of scuba diving magazines in all major English-speaking countries.