The first Maldivian to experience plunging into the crystal clear waters and seeing the untouched beauty of our coral reefs and amazing marine life was the adventurous and equally artistic Sarudhaaru Dhombe (Ismail). His passion for art, his curiosity for the mysteries of the deep blue ocean and his love for the environment and the creatures that called it home was what inspired him to pursue his adventures.
His journey began right as World War II ended. In order to survive during the shortage of food he began fishing and spear fishing. As Maldivians, we hold a special place in our hearts for the ocean and Sarudhaaru Dhombe was no exception as he could effortlessly free dive up to 20 meters.
His first glimpse of the underwater world came about when a tourist gave him a mask. However, it turned out to be too big for him and so he decided to make his own mask and snorkel using glass and rubber tires. The Maldivian army was so impressed by his work that he got an order for 60 more masks. He also handcrafted his own spear gun and through his adventures gained knowledge, love and respect for marine life.
Roughly around 1957, Dhombe was introduced to scuba diving by professor Hans Hass, a dive expedition researcher from Germany. They set out to travel across Maldives, exploring reefs, caves and different species of marine life together. When professor Hass left he gave Dhombe a spear gun, scuba diving gear, a compressor and most invaluably the knowledge of scuba diving with which he spent the next few years discovering a whole new world beneath the waves.
Some of his fondest memories include getting electrocuted by an electric ray and seeing a whale shark. Although he never had access to a camera, that didn’t stop him from bringing his memories to life as beautiful works of art.
His other accomplishments also include designing the artwork for the first Maldivian currency and stamps.
The innate sense for adventure and thirst for knowledge has lead to humans accomplishing remarkable feats and the legacy that Dhombe leaves behind is something that we should, as Maldivians, be immensely proud of.
Reference: Hamza Khaleel (Scuba Tribe)