An excursion to Turtle Reef
One of our most popular excursions is an afternoon snorkel trip to Turtle Reef. We organize one every other day and it is a great start for beginner snorkelers. Even as an experienced snorkeler you will have a great time there, as we can almost guarantee a turtle sighting!
Turtle Reef is the fringing reef of a local island named Dhonfanu. It houses a large concentration of mushroom coral, which is a big part of the turtles’ diet. From Kihaa it is only a five-minute boat ride, after which we stay in the water up to one hour.
We can spot two species, the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) on Turtle Reef. Hawksbill turtles have a beautiful, amber-colored shell and a pointy face that looks like the beak of a hawk. They are quite active, as they need to hunt for their food. Their diet mostly consists of sponges, crustaceans, anemones, squid and shrimp. In contrast, Green turtles have an olive-green shell that they keep clean by scraping it under corals. They are herbivores and their diet consists of seagrass and algae. Despite the differences, both species are adapted for life in the water, such as streamlined bodies and powerful flippers for swimming.
How to spot a turtle
The colouring of their shell helps them with camouflage. Some days we are lucky enough to encounter them on the reef, other days we must try a little harder to find a turtle. Hawksbill turtles are usually more active and we often find them swimming or hunting for food. Green turtles are ‘lazier’ and tend to hide under corals. Sometimes to rest and other times to scrape their shell, to keep it nice and clean. Both turtles need to come up for air every few hours, which is an excellent opportunity to see them up close. A good indicator for finding turtles is the batfish. This is a disc shaped fish with black & white lines and yellow fins that actually eats turtle poo!
On a trip to Turtle Reef we don’t just see turtles. We also have a chance to see pufferfish, anemone fish, unicorn fish, parrotfish, triggerfish, eagle ray, black tip reef sharks and much, much more.
Also as a diver you can enjoy the beauty of Turtle Reef. We offer dives to two nearby cleaning stations named Bodu Gaa and Kuda Gaa which are two pinnacles just off Turtle Reef. To end the dive we usually cross over a sandy gap to reach Turtle Reef where the corals come up to 4m and is perfect for our safety stop. As a new diver we can take you to Turtle Reef as soon as your second dive!