As divers, we all have in mind certain amazing and wonderful aquatic animals we want to see at some point during our diving adventures.
Some of us have been lucky enough to experience the moment when one of those wishes comes true- evident in the sound of muffled squealing, a drastic increase in the production of bubbles, and the frantic flapping of arms and legs!
Here’s our top 10, each with some interesting facts (that you may, or may not, already know), and the best places around the world you will be most likely to have your wishes come true!
The world’s largest fish, and can you believe they only swim at around 3mph? These majestic creatures have a huge mouth measuring up to 1.5 metres, containing around 3000 tiny teeth (no bigger than 6mm). so, even though they are docile and sometimes even playful, it’s best not to get too close!
Best diving destinations to be seen: Maldives, Mozambique, Galapagos
2. Manta Ray
Did you know that the word Manta is Spanish for a blanket? Certainly, an apt description as you imagine this stunning creature gliding through the water above you.
The manta has the largest brain to body ratio of all sharks and rays and a layer of protective mucus membrane, which can be lost if touched by a human.
Best diving destinations to be seen: Mozambique, Maldives
phins Used in the plural sense as you won’t tend to find a lone dolphin, they are social animals and live in groups of between five and several hundred. It is estimated that there are between 30 to 40 different species of dolphin, the largest of which is the “Killer Whale” (Orca) which can grow up to 6.1 metres long.
Highly intelligent marine mammals, dolphins can even swim and sleep at the same time!
Best diving destinations to be seen: Egypt, Caribbean
READ ALSO: 5 Best Adrenaline Rushing Activities
Six out of seven species of sea turtle are classified as threatened or endangered at the hand of us humans, worrying isn’t it?
Amazingly, during nesting season, a female sea turtle returns to the same beach on which she was born to lay her eggs, even if 30 years have gone by, she will find that beach (Oh to have those sort of navigational skills!). The temperature will determine the gender of the baby turtles, a higher temperature for females and a lower temperature for males.
Best diving destinations to be seen: Egypt, Caribbean, Malaysia, Maldives.
The hammerhead sharks are a group of sharks that form the family Sphyrnidae, so named for the unusual and distinctive structure of their heads.
There are nine species of Hammerhead sharks worldwide. Their eyes are placed on the very outer edge of the hammer, giving them a vertical 360° view so they can see above and below very easily. This does, however, mean that they have a huge blind spot right in front of their nose!
Stingrays are one of their favourite foods and the shark uses its wide head to trap them by pinning them to the seafloor.
Best diving destinations to be seen: Egypt, South Africa, Galapagos, Maldives, Indonesia.
The elusive Dugong has a flat tail and flippers like a Whale but is, in fact, more closely related to an Elephant. It has very dense and heavy bones which hold it submerged underwater, and its lungs are positioned along the back which keeps the Dugong in a horizontal position while swimming.
The Dugong is a vegetarian and can survive up to 70 years in protected habitats with enough food sources.
Best diving destinations to be seen: Egypt, Indonesia.
7. Tiger Shark
Solitary sharks that tend to live alone, Tiger Sharks have amazing eyesight and tend to hunt at night. The 4th largest shark in the world, they are renowned for eating anything and everything and have been nicknamed the “dustbins of the sea”.
Tiger Sharks can camouflage themselves with their blue or green colour to help them blend in better with the surroundings in the water.
Best diving destinations to be seen: South Africa, Bahamas.
8. Eagle Ray
These beautiful rays can be found alone but frequently travel in schools, and if you are ever lucky enough to see them like this, they look like a flock of birds flying overhead!
Eagle Rays have a long whip-like tail that is darkly coloured, with up to 7 barbed spines that can be used for defence. They are generally shy and are no threat to humans unless provoked.
Best diving locations to be seen: Egypt, Maldives, Galapagos.
The Latin name for seahorse is “Hippocampus” which means “Horse Caterpillar”. Seahorses pair for life, and it is the male seahorses that become pregnant. Giving birth can be a long process and contractions can last up to 12 hours!
Female seahorses have a territory of about 1.4 sq metres, whilst males have a territory of about 0.5 sq metres. Girl power!
Best diving destinations to be seen: Malta & Gozo, Indonesia, Belize, Bahamas.
READ ALSO: The Top 10 World’s Greatest Investors
This amazing Octopus was not formally identified by scientists until 2006. It is often confused with a similar species called the mimic octopus, it lives in the same waters but has longer arms and a more distinct and striking pattern.
The Wonderpus catches small crustaceans and fish by flaring its arms and webs over patches of sand or coral rubble to trap enclosed (and typically buried) prey.
Best diving destinations to be seen: Indonesia, Malaysia.
Not everybody is going to have the same top 10 and your wish list will change as you start crossing some off. However, just having the opportunity to see any of these magnificent creatures, and many more besides, makes me truly grateful that I am a diver.
I cannot imagine not being part of this magical underwater world. This is a world we need to protect and preserve so that future generation will still be identifying these marine animals as the ones on their own wish lists in many, many years to come.