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To enhance the enjoyment and safety of a dive, consideration of the direction and strength of currents is extremely important, wherever you are diving; whether it is in the 'kandu', a pass between the atoll reefs or 'thila' a shoal, inside the atolls. The success of a dive almost always depends on these variables.

The Maldivian archipelago is swept by ceaseless currents caused by the monsoons; generally east to west during the northeast monsoon, from December to April and west to east during the southwest monsoon, from May to November. However this is not a hard and fast rule, as changes in wind directions and tides can offset the influence of the oceanic currents - especially so during the transitional period between the two seasons.

Further, the location of islands, reefs and 'thilas' cause great irregularity in the flow of current streams inside atoll passes. Many local boat captains show great skill in telling the direction of the current by observing tiny ripples or wave patterns on the surface. However, the dive guide often jumps into the water to determine the exact strength and direction.

Strong currents often make a dive site livelier, and that makes the additional effort worthwhile.

Tides are an important aspect to consider when diving. Tides often determine the strength and direction of the currents and often visibility depending on where you dive. A rising tide brings in clear waters from the ocean into the atoll, while receding tides carries out less clear water from inside the atolls. For instance a drift dive through a channel, taking advantage of rising tide and clear water flowing into the atoll would offer an exciting dive with high visibility. Therefore even though it may be easier to dive in slack waters at high or low tide, it does not always provide the most exciting of dives.

The time between successive high tides is approximately 12 hours and divers may take the advantage of the tides depending on the time of the day when the tide moves.

Spring tides cause the maximum variation in tides - highest at 110 centimetres. On the other hand during neap tides the variation can be just a few centimetres.

Diving around the atolls of the Maldives is simply blissful. However, there is this phenomenon called the “washing machine current“, wherein the underwater current tends to swirl like the water in the washing machine, caused by an interruption of local currents and whirpools that could drift an inexperienced diver off the reef. These currents could be avoided. If you are ever taken by these currents, be sure not to panic.

Do not stress yourselves when taken by these since they are not really dangerous as they sound. Once you drift off  the reef, you could just simply return to the surface and swim back to the boat, since these currents are only present underwater. You could also use a negative buoyancy entry to get past the heaviest surface currents to regroup in mid-water and start your dive. As with most atolls, expect high-speed drift diving on the outside of the outer reefs and relaxed coral diving on the inside of the lagoons. Oftenly, there is also a cold thermocline once you reach the deep waters of the Maldives so, you must also dress appropriately.

With more than a 1000 dives being conducted each day in the Maldives, dive accidents have fortunately been rare and far between. Increased safety measures have further reduced the risk of accidents. However utmost care should be taken when diving, especially in difficult conditions. Drift diving is the most common type of diving in the Maldives. It gives divers the opportunity of seeing more fish life and more coral and rock formations than they would otherwise. Drift diving is easy and safe when conducted with proper care. These exciting dives are staged on the outside reefs and channels - usually with an ingoing current as they are safer.

However if you are diving in a channel with strong outgoing currents stay close to the reefs and shallows on the outside corners. Only a knowledgeable divemaster would be able to plan and instruct you on these dives and competent boatmen are essential.

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