Dead fish are being sighted all over the Maldives at present. First it was reported in July 2007 near Meemu Atoll Raiymandhoo. At that time, according to the Marine Research Centre, dead fish floating near Raiymandhoo were caused by ‘red tide’. At present the Marine Research Center says the deaths were due to low levels of oxygen. However, it is still unknown what causes the recent deaths of thousands of reef fish all over the Maldives. Officials warn locals not to touch or eat the fish. And they are also burying the dead fish to avoid health dangers.

Dead fish on beach of a resort in Ari Atoll and dead reef fish in the inner habour of Malé.
Dead fish on the beach of a resort island in Ari Atoll and
dead reef fish in the inner habour of Malé.

In August 2007 masses of dead fish have been sighted in Ari Atoll. During the last week of November, many dead fish were spotted in the harbour at Kamadhoo of Baa Atoll.

On 2 December 2007, masses of dead fish were littering the eastern and northern beaches of Hulhumale’, around Male’ and Villigili.

Most of the dead fish spotted are reef fish such as triggerfish, groupers and parrotfish.

The Marine Research Centre has said that they were monitoring the unusual phenomenon and that they have sent dead fish specimens to India and Denmark for examination. They are also conducting research to find the oxygen concentration of the surface waters in the seas where the dead fish were spotted in order to ascertain the possible cause of masses of dead fish.

Sulfur Fumes of the Piton de la Fournaise of La Réunion

The Piton de la Fournaise volcano on the French island of La Réunion ( a small island wedged between Madagascar and Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean, which has erupted more than 150 times since the 17th century, has been active since August 2006. On May 2007, Piton de la Fournaise volcano erupted, with the total estimated volume of 120 million cubic meters, making this event one of the largest known historical eruptions. The volcano spat lava 200 meters into the air, while lava flows into the sea had killed hundreds of fish near La Réunion. The most recent activity has been called by experts as “eruption of the century”.

Are the sulfur fumes of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano causing fish dying en masse in the Maldives? If coco-de-mer can float to the Maldives from Seychelles, why cannot sulfur fumes of the Piton de la Fournaise reach the Maldives with ocean currents? Is algae poisoned by sulfur or is there an algae boom caused by sulfur? We need to wait and see the results of the tests of experts.


  1. Adam said,

    February 6, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

    As soon as northeast monsoon (Iruvaa) started in late 2007, and ocean currents shifts into different direction, we do not see any fish dying. So it could be argued that whatever that is causing the fish dying in the Maldives has washed away. The fish dying in en masse in the Maldives started at the begining of south -west monsoon(Hulhagu) comes in from the direction of Africa. So it is possible that sulfur fumes of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano causing fish dying en masse in the Maldives.


  2. Hussain Manik said,

    February 15, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

    This looks more like a signal from above that unles we mend our ways and save our youth from the drug menace that had been allowed to spread all over the Maldives by an inefficient administration , the next it will be mass deaths of those who were responsible for allowing this menace reach this unbelievable stage. So think, think deep and even now do what ever required to eliminate this menace from my beloved country and save the youth and the poor parents who suffer along with the chidren.

  3. ali said,

    February 16, 2008 @ 12:20 am

    Hussain Manik: it’s always a signal from above isn’t it? why don’t we get some fanditha people to work on this then instead of relying on science.

  4. Riyaz said,

    February 16, 2008 @ 12:44 am

    This may cause due to piss from fisherman who abuse heroin..
    other wise our water is clearest ever all..

  5. Jabir said,

    February 16, 2008 @ 2:42 am

    My understanding is that the most of the dead fishes sighted or washed to our beaches are fishes that lives/inhabits in the very deep sea, like “Oivaali Ronds”

  6. Maldives Lover said,

    February 16, 2008 @ 6:56 am

    May be I have an explanation for that.

    Many years ago in the Carribian all of a sudden some people died after they have eaten fish. Reef fish. That happened again and again. After a very long and costly search they have found out:

    Some of the reef fish were eating (poisened algs – which were not poisoness before) and were been eaten themselves from other fishes. And these fishes had the assambled quantity – and this was poisoness for people.

    The reason:

    The corall reefs were under stress and some of them produced poison – because on the other side and areas of the islands Hotels have been buildt and they bombed with explosives channels through the corals to have a lane to the Hotel Jetties. And the building and bombing was some time before the death with the fish meals popped up. Heavy (unnatural) disturbances in the reefs and the areas around have always a bad + partly deadly impact to the dorals and its fauna.

    When was there in the areas with the dead coral fishes building works going on? Please find out and compare it with the times – a few months later – when the dead fish turned up.

    Rgds Maldives Lover

  7. Fish said,

    February 16, 2008 @ 9:17 am

    Not only trigger fish are dying there are numbers of stone fish seen dead floating around lagoon areas,most of the giant surgeon fishes seem to have a white like fungus growing in the fin areas and are continuously seen cleaned by cleaner fishes,also spotted grouper with the same effect.and have seen plenty dead.

  8. bigcat said,

    February 16, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

    All the commenters have made good points…but did anyone ever thought that maybe it’s all because of some secret Nuclear testing by our neighbour, Indian military….just think about it:)

  9. Abdul Razzaq said,

    February 17, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

    You got it close bigcat. But its not Nuclear testing by India…its Nuclear, Chemical and Biological weapons testing by golhaa himself. He’s even got missile silos inside each atoll under the sea. He’s a super villain fighting batman when he’s not busy with the presidency.

  10. Shafeeg said,

    February 18, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

    Hey come on, lets not get personal on these matters. Everyone will agree the wealthy have a bigger hand in damaging the environment. Government policies are also not environment friendly. Instead of pointing fingers lets look at the planned projects for Maldives..Hulhumale 2nd phase and Gulhi Falhu reclamation! These are projects that will endanger Maldives fragility, more fish will die. If you really come to think about it instead of dumping the money on reclamating lagoons, there are already existing large islands where investments can be made in developing. eg L. Gan, Government can spend on housing, better school and hospital, shift some of the government offices there… Even the educated have their hands on techno projects rather than putting the people and the country first.

  11. Yaamyn said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

    I doubt if Hulhumale 2nd Phase reclamation can be the reason behind the fish dying all over the country…

    The sulfur theory sounds interesting, but are the amounts of sulfur (if at all) reaching Maldives from the Reunion isle sufficient to cause such large scale fish death? And if so, why hasn’t anyone detected the sulfur content yet?

    It made me smile to read the post about this being some kind of divine sign… Why would the good lord kill the innocent fish to point us our flaws? :p

  12. Oi Iya Vattalau said,

    March 3, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

    now its time find the cause of 5 deaths in the junction of Fish Market, Male underground sounds to be boiling like a volcano to be erupted. lots of explosive toxic gas beneath Male subsurface soil . need deep boreholes investigation.

    Fish dying could be due to frequent occurring of sea floor volcanic eruptions, in the Indian ocean which leaves lots of toxic substances. these volcanoes were at dormant stage for years and now they become active.

  13. selvam said,

    March 13, 2008 @ 5:02 am

    a fish disease monitoring centre should start to monitor the environmental problem. As one started in India. I was working in the fish diseaseses, really astonishing to know that fishes also have most of the diseases, coused by bad envronment

    Selvam R Nath
    Marine Biologist

  14. Brittany said,

    July 10, 2008 @ 10:16 am

    Scientifically, i believe the cause is climate change.
    The snow melting is causing different temperatures and different and stronger winds which brings up the phytoplankton at the bottom of the sea. The overgrowth of the plant ends up dying and going to the bottom of the ocean and the bacteria that eats it uses up a great deal of the oxygen, causing fish at that level to die without enough oxygen.

  15. Don Heacock said,

    October 17, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

    I am the district aquatic biologist on the island of Kauai, Hawaiian Islands, for the Hawaii Dept. of Natural Resources, and we recently (January-February 2009) had hundreds of triggerfish dying on the island of Niihau, which is sparsely population and has no commercial/resort development. Our investigation (necropsy and tissue screening for toxins) found that some of the fish had ingested biotoxins (microcystin) produced by freshwater blue-green algae. There are seasonal freshwater lakes/wetlands on Niihau that may have discharged toxic blue-green algae into the ocean during a large winter storm that occured the first week of January 2009. The only triggerfish found still alive, but swimming eradically with loss of equilibrium, in the area of the fish-kill was found in necropsy to have swollen and inflammed gills, indicating that something had caused acute trauma to the gills.

    If anyone can supply with more information, or a contact person’s name and address, that might have necropsy data, or any other information that may identify the cause of the large fish-kill that occured in the Maldives in December 2007, I would be greatly appreciative.
    Don Heacock
    Kauai District Aquatic Biologist
    Division of Aquatic Resources
    Hawaii Dept. of Land & Natural Resources
    3060 Eiwa Street, Room 306
    Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii (USA) 96766
    Cellular phone: 808-645-0532

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