environment is the dominating environment
of the Maldives, with coral reefs forming
the major ecosystem. The 1190 coral islands
of the Maldives make up less than 1 per
cent of the total area of the country.
The other ecosystem includes, sea grass
beds, mangroves and swamps.
The islands of the Maldives differ
from simple sand banks to larger islands
with various types of vegetation. The
natural vegetation of the Maldives is
tropical rain forest. The soil in the
center of the islands is normally rich
and the soil in the periphery is less
fertile. Flora and Fauna of these islands
has no important endemism.
Adams. D in 1988 classified vegetation
in the islands of the Maldives into five
categories. Namely beach pioneers, littoral
hedge, sublittoral thicket, climax forest,
mangrove and swamp forest. Vegetation
on a natural beach are highly salt tolerant
and around twenty species of plants are
documented on natural beaches.
The “ littoral hedge” is
the second category with roughly about
ten or so common species. The most common
of all are Scaevola sericea (magoo) and
Pemphis acidula (kuredi). These plant
species are normally with numerous branches
and normally scrubby.
The “sublittoral thicket”
is the third category with distinct community
of small trees comprising of more salt
sensitive species found behind the beaches.
This area contains about twenty common
species and the dominant trees being Cordia
subcordata ( kaani), Guettarda ( uni)
Hibiscus tiliaceus ( diggaa) and Premna
The “ climax forest” is the
fourth category which comprises of mature
trees mainly the “sublittoral thicket”.
In addition to this, Hernandia nymphaeiflia
( kandu) and Terminalia catappa ( midhilli)
are found in this area. This is the most
common vegetation occurring in the islands
. Introduction of alien plant species
and coconut and due to other human activities
natural vegetation pattern of the islands
have been altered over the years nationwide.
However, there are number of uninhabited
island left with pattern of vegetation
recognized by Adams.
According to Adams, there are 583 vascular
plant species, of which 323 are cultivated,
260 species are native and naturalized
plants. Out of these native and naturalized
plants fewer than 100 species can be called
There are 13 species of mangroves recognized
by Untawale and Jagtap (1991).
Terrestrial animals are limited in the
Maldives, and most species are not unique
but are widely distributed throughout
the atolls. The native land mammals on
the islands include two species of fruit
bat, Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus
ariel) and a subspecies of variable flying
fox ( Pteropus hypomelanus maris). Maldives
garden shrews locally known Hikandhi (Tupaias),
can be considered as native mammal too.
Marine mammal fauna documented in the
Maldives by the Marine Research Section
include 9 species of whales and 7 species
of dolphins. Whales and dolphins have
been declared as protected species since
Species of dolphins found
in the Maldives:
Species of whales
found in the Maldives are:
Reptiles and amphibians
Reptiles and amphibians recorded
from the islands include 2 geckoes (Hemidactylus
spp.), 2 agamid lizards including the
common garden lizard or blood sucker (Calotes
versicolar), the snake skink (Riopa albopunktata),
common wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus), another
snake, Typhlos braminus, a short-headed
frog, Rana breviceps, and a larger toad,
Bufo melanostictus .
The Maldives is important nesting site
for the endangered green turtle (Chelonia
mydas) Other sea turtles using the islands
are hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys ambricata)
loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta gigas),
the Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys
olivacea), The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys
coriancea) is an occasional visitor to
the Maldivian sea.
Over 100 species, 36 seabirds, have been
recorded from the Maldives. Due to the
smallness of the islands in the Maldives
, seabirds are the most common resident
birds in the country. The rest of birds
are migrant, vagrants, introduced or imported
Recently Introduced Birds
Sharks documented in the Maldives by
the Marine Research Section include14
species of sharks. Whale shark has been
declared as a protected marine specie
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
- Adams, D., 1988. Plant life. In: Paul
A. Webb. Maldives people and environment
. Identification. Report No. RAS/79/123.
Rome: FAO. 40p.
- Anderson, R. C. 1996.Divers' Guide
to the Sharks of the Maldives, Novelty
- Bluepeace, 1996. Marine Turtle Conservation
in the Maldives. Dhanfulhi.8:6-8.
- Frazier, J and Frazier, S 1987.Marine
Turtles in the Maldivian Archipelago,
- UNEP. 1998. United Nations Environment
Programme - Island Directory. Retrieved
(2001) from: <http://www.unep.ch/islands/isldir.htm>.
- Webb, P. C .1988. People and Environment
of Maldives- Novelty Press-Male'
- Untawale, A.G. and T.G. Jagtap, 1991.
Scientific report on status of atoll
mangroves from the republic of Maldives.
Unpublished manuscript. National Institute
of Oceanography. India. Goa.
- Zuhair, M. 1997. Biodiversity Conservation
in Maldives: Interim Report to the Convention
on Biological Diversity. Retrieved (2001)