Sharks and rays are in fact cousins. Both are cartilaginous fish and together make up over 1,000 species. Sharks have highly specialized teeth and tough skin and possess all the same five senses as we do – sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. They also have three ‘super’ senses: lateral line sense, electrical sense and magnetic sense. Their lateral line sense is used to detect pressure waves and vibration whilst their electrical sense detects weak electrical fields. Their magnetic sense is used for special awareness and navigation. When combined, all these factors make sharks the kings of the seas; highly efficient predators and top of the food chain. 37 species of sharks have been found in Maldivian waters, the most common of these being reef sharks. .
All over the world, sharks face persistent hunting from humans for their fins to make to the infamous shark fin soup. As such, many shark species are facing the very real threat of extinction. Whilst shark species are abundant in the Maldives and the import and export of any shark products are banned by the Maldivian government, every DiveOceanus centre is dedicated to promoting the protection of shark species. All centres contribute data to the Maldives Shark Watch programme to track sightings of sharks to monitor their habits and quantities. Of the 15 species of rays in the Maldives, manta, eagle and stingrays are the most common. Mobular and devil rays are also frequently sighted. Their aerodynamic shape is highly adapted for speed, which in most cases of their only method of defence against predators.