Maldives: Paradise under Threat of Extinction

Maldives: Paradise under Threat of Extinction

The Maldives are situated in the LaccadiveSea, about 400 kilometres southwest of India and about 700 kilometres southwest of Sri Lanka. The archipelago sits at the top of the vast Chagos-Maldive-Laccadive Ridge, a submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean. Maldives is the smallest Asian country both in land area and population. It’s also the planet’s lowest country, with an average ground level of only 1.5 metres above sea level.

Two monsoons, or seasons distinguish the tropical atmosphere of the Maldives: the wet south western monsoon stretching from May to November, which comes with strong rains and wind, and the dry northeast monsoon from December to March. Tourist high season is from December to April, and the Maldives offer winter sun to Europeans, when the isles benefit from the dry monsoon. This season has little rain and low humidity, which coincides with the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.


flickr image by shazwan

These islands, due to their low-lying nature, are susceptible to any rise in sea levels that come about as a result of global warming. The islands are especially vulnerable to flooding. The consequences of rising temperatures worldwide can include increasing salinity of freshwater sources, coastal erosion, distorted tidal patterns and ranges and steady devastation of the coral reefs that shape the islands and their breakwaters.

The sea levels have been rising rapidly and some islands have already vanished under the water. The dying coral reefs will cause the entire ecosystem to become unstable. This will have a detrimental effect on fisheries, one of the main sources of income for the residents of these islands.

The coral reefs are also very important to tourism in a country where safari vessels, or ‘liveaboards’ exist to show tourists these magical wonderlands. These package tours, where you actually ‘live aboard’ the vessel, include meals, diving, surfing and other activities such as visiting local villages.

The Maldives can disappear completely in the near future once sea levels keep on rising. Indeed, the risk is so immediate that their government is thinking about buying land in nearby countries in case the nation’s 300,000 residents have to be relocated. This would be a true loss, because there’s nowhere else quite like the Maldives in the world, where one can swim in turquoise lagoons and snorkel through amazing coral reefs with fish painted every colour on the palette.

In 2009, the President of the Maldives and his cabinet held an historic underwater meeting to draw attention to the threat being posed to the islands by climate change. The participants donned scuba gear and met at a table around sixteen feet underwater, where they used hand signals to get their points across. The cabinet signed a declaration at this meeting, which called for a reduction in carbon emissions worldwide. This declaration was to be presented to a United Nations climate summit, which was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, later that year.

Emirates, Malaysia Airlines and British Airways are among the international carriers that offer connecting flights to the Maldives. Though isolated in location, The Maldives are easily accessible from anywhere in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe.

Date posted: 10th January, 2013

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