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    THE INDIAN OCEAN
    Seychelles, Maldives and
    Ningaloo Reef

    The Indian Ocean is less well known to the general diving public than some other destinations, but don’t let a lack of publicity fool you. The Seychelles, Maldives and Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia are several of the sites that are commonly visited by divers.

    Off of eastern Africa, the Seychelles are a group of lush volcanic islands and coral atolls in the Indian Ocean to the northeast of Madagascar. Impressive reef formations, enormous schools of fishes, a number of excellent wreck dives and offshore sites that often produce encounters with giant stingrays and Whale Sharks are the major drawing cards. Far to the west, the famed atoll of Aldabra is considered one of the world’s most treasured diving locations.

    Extending across the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean to the southwest of Sri Lanka, the 26 coral atolls, white sandy beaches and palm-fringed islands collectively known as the Maldives await. This topside paradise is highly acclaimed as a diver’s haven. Strict local regulation of fishing and commercial exploitation has kept the marine environment in a near-pristine state.

    Diving is done in and around the atolls and channels they form. Currents that run through the channels bring in big animals, such as mantas, to feed. Outside the atolls are sloping reefs where sharks, turtles, Eagle Rays and Manta Rays cruise over healthy and vibrant corals.

    The northern sector of the West Cape of Australia is fringed by the Ningaloo Reef, one of the world's largest fringing reef systems. The intricate reef system stretches over 160 miles and, at some points, is only a few yards from the beach. The Ningaloo Reef system is home to myriad life forms, including common sightings of the largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark. Up to 50 feet in length, though most are considerably shorter, these leviathans are regular visitors in the Ningaloo area from March through May. Add the bio-diversity of 250 plus species of corals and more than 450 different types of fishes, and it makes the Exmouth area an impressive diving destination all year round.