The popular scuba diving hotspot of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean has established a new world record for the greatest number of people to scuba dive simultaneously at the same location.
A total of 989 divers took part in the event, which took place at the dive location called “Sunlight Thila”.
The dive site is approximately 200m long and 30 – 35m wide and lies in the inner South East North Male Atoll. It is a formation of two small reefs that is known to attract giant manta rays between March and October, when the winds from the south carry a large amount of plankton to this area. Between the reefs lies a 70-m long sand bottom boasting small coral formations with lots of cleaner wrasses.
Scuba Diving is one of the major activities that attract tourists to the Maldives and as such this event has been incorporated as part of worldwide promotional activities for 2006. The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board and Dhiraagu anticipate increased international exposure through this event and hope that it will go some way to help tourist numbers recover to pre-tsunami levels
The previous world record for the greatest number of people scuba diving simultaneously at the same location is 722, held by Koh Tao Underwater festival, Thailand in Feb 2005.
The Maldives is made up of a chain of atolls and islands which lie to the south of the Indian sub-continent and which are extremely vulnerable to a rise in sea levels associated with global warming.
The Maldives is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the lowest highest point in the world. None of the islands measures more than 1.8 metres (six feet) above sea level.
There is a fear that as sea levels rise, island countries such as the Maldives, and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, will simply be swamped and disappear.