Our Maldives – Cetaceans & Tropical Seabirds birding and wildlife cruise takes us to the fabulous Maldives, an island nation nestled in the tropical waters of the central Indian Ocean, some 400 miles southwest of the southern tip of India. This tiny, idyllic country is composed entirely of coral atolls on which nestle a staggering 1,200 sandy islands. These are the picture postcard islands of your dreams, furnished with a tropical décor of swaying palms, white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons.
Although much-praised as a tourist destination, these exquisite islands are less well known for the bounty of whale and dolphin species that swim these warm tropical waters. Our tour will be spent on our comfortable, live-aboard safari vessel. She has a full-time crew of local Maldivians, including an experienced captain and a dedicated cook. All cabins are en suite and air-conditioned and although not luxurious, are perfect for our requirements on this wildlife cruise. On your days with us you can expect some of the finest cetacean viewing on the planet; in the last two seasons our lead guide, Dr Charles Anderson, a long time Maldivian resident and well-known authority on cetaceans, has seen an astounding 18 different species. While tropicbirds sail overhead we will scan the waters for such delights as Spinner and Risso’s Dolphins, Sperm Whale, Longman’s Beaked Whale and the gargantuan Blue Whale, the largest animal ever to have lived on the planet! On most trips 10 to 12 species are observed and more than often these are not just distant glimpses; many species bowride and can be seen in their entirety at close range! We expect to see between 50 and 90 separate cetacean sightings on our trip totalling a staggering 2-3,000 animals!
This wealth of cetaceans is well complimented by tropical pelagic birds and we will spend our days on the deck scanning for Black-naped Tern, Bulwer’s and Jouanin’s Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater and White-bellied Storm Petrel to name a few. Only 180 species have been recorded from the islands and, as the area is underbirded, many more species (particularly migrants) undoubtedly await discovery. As this tour takes place during the northern spring, Palaearctic migrants are still around so there is a real possibility of getting a first record for the islands!
Each evening we will anchor in a sheltered lagoon of one of the atolls, and take time to stroll the bleached shores of these idyllic islands and snorkel the teeming waters, replete with a treasure chest of tropical fish and giant manta rays (we will visit sites where the latter congregate in sometimes huge numbers). A further blessing of being on these waters is the distance we will be from city lights, and atop the deck at night we will be treated to the equatorial skies bejewelled with stars. This is an unforgettable adventure and we invite you to join us on this magical oceanic and wildlife experience.