One of the Maldives best underwater videographer and photographer’s Shifaz “Shivaz” Mohamed reveals the secrets of the Maldives’ underwater world.
He imparts his his experiences photographing the best dive sites in the country.
Born on a dhoni, it seems that Shivaz’s destiny as a ‘water baby’ was mapped out for him.
DR: What is the best wreck dive in the country?
SM: The best wreck is Maldives Victory in Male’ atoll.
DR: How did you get into diving?
SM: I was a photographer for the military and the police and then I wanted to do underwater photographs so I decided to become a diver.
DR: What do you love about diving? How does it make you feel?
SM: It gives me opportunity to take unique photos with my camera. Later I decided to become a dive professional and pursue photography as a hobby.
DR What advice can you give to people who want to take up underwater photography?
SM: Before going in the water with heavy cameras master buoyancy skills to make sure we photographers are not dragging on the reef .
DR: What challenges are there in the water as a diver as a photographer or as a diver?
SM: As a photographer its already very expensive for equipment and it’s easy for the camera to get flooded. As a diver it’s not safe to take the camera in the water when you are a dive guide. I tend to do fun dives separately so I can photograph the reef and marine life.
DR: How long have you been a dive guide?
SM: Since 2004, and in 9 years I have racked up some 1500+ dives.
DR: How do you find instructing to diving for fun or photography?
SM: I just want to do photographs. I have always liked teaching but I prefer to teach photography now.
DR: Whats the best thing about the open water and what is the most amazing thing you have photographed?
SM: I love every photo that I make but I am mostly interested in macros – the tiny objects in the sea such as small shrimps and fish.
DR: Do you need special lenses?
SM: I use wide lenses and macro equipment.
DR What is the most interesting thing you have photographed?
SM: I have photographed a time line of anemone eggs
DR: What skill goes into that level of photography? First how do you find the objects and how do you also concentrate on the diving at the same time?
SM: When you master good diving skills it all becomes automatic. The most important thing to learn is buoyancy.
DR: Do you always strive to discover new thing
when you dive?
SM: Yes. I like to do night dives more to see new species of shrimps and crabs.
DR: How challenging is it to photograph at night?
SM: If you have proper lights and equipment there is not much difference.
DR: Why do you like night dives?
SM: They are my favourite photo dives.
DR: When you go on a night dive what do you need to watch for? Are there creatures in the dark that are dangerous?
SM: Night dives are very slow. You need to do a training night dive first and after that you will know all the safety precautions. At night mostly all fish are sleeping but you can see lot of crabs, shells and some fish who is in the rocks at night but honestly nothing dangerous.
DR: What fascinates you most about the underwater world?
SM: Being weight less.
DR: What is your favourite local dive spot?
SM: I like Thila diving and my favourite spots are located in Ari atoll. Most thila dives are unique feature of Maldives.
DR Why Thila diving? What is it?
SM: Thila dives have really good fish life and also hard and soft corals. Thila are reefs look like hills in the ocean but the top reef is deep for example Nassimo Thila, Hp reef, Okkobe Thila, Maya Thila, Hafza Thila
DR: Where are all these located?
SM: Okkobe Thila, Nassimo Thila ,HP reef are in North Male
Maya Thila, Kanthila, Hafza Thila are in Ari atoll
DR: How many dive sites have you dived?
SM: Around 100+ in different atolls.
DR: Why are you a diver?
SM: I was born on a dhoni on the ocean which might be the reason why I am a diver
DR What do you do in your day job?
SM: I work at Angsana Maldives Ihuru as an underwater video and photographer. I just got my new title recently.
DR: Congratulations! Also what diving certificate do you have or how many hours you’ve dived?
SM: I have lost count.
DR: What is the most exciting diving experience you’ve had?
SM: The most exciting experience was my first open water dive.
DR: Tell me more about that?
SM: I was very new for ocean dives and when I went to do my first open water dive I saw a big shark, I was really scared. Later I found out that it was a whale shark. So you can imagine that seeing a whale shark in the first dive was amazing.
DR: Where would you most like to dive that you have not yet visited?
SM: I have never dived to my home atoll which is Lhaviyani, so that is going to be my next dive. trip. It has a few channels and a famous wreck too.
DR: What skills do you need to do wreck diving?
SM: For wreck diving you need to undertake special training again through the PADI system. Divers start with Advanced Open Water Diver and then opt for a special dive course called Wreck Dive. With this training divers will start think and know more about safety and additional wreck diving.
DR: Do you want to dive somewhere else in the world?
SM: Yes I want to go to Galapagos. It is my dream destination.
DR: What are the characteristics of diving in Maldives which make it different to other places in the world?
SM: There is great fish life in Maldives and some places have specific species.
DR What is the deepest you have ever dived?
SM: The deepest I have dived was 79 metres
DR: Have you ever free dived?
SM: Yes I do free dives. Sometimes I go spear fishing with friends for fun.
DR How long can you hold your breath for?
SM: I think 2 minutes or may be a little more
DR: What are the biggest changes in the ocean that you’ve personally seen since you first started diving? Is the marine environment being damaged by rubbish?
SM: Yes a lot of plastics are drifting on to the coral reef and these get stuck and damage the marine environment. A lot of fish have died as a result.
DR: How do you feel after you go diving?
SM: After my first dive I was bit scared but now a good dive makes my day.
Interview with Shifaz “Shivaz” Mohammed