Manta Madness in The Maldives

Where It Begins

Scubazoo’s Senior Cameraman, Simon Enderby first visited the Maldives in 2002, starting a long and successful relationship with the Four Seasons and their award winning hotel and spa based on the Island of Kuda Huraa and newly launched 6 Star Live-aboard the Four Seasons Explorer. A short boat ride away from Kuda Huraa, in the North Male Atol, is now the famous dive site called Manta Point. Here in shallow waters divers find one of the busiest Manta cleaning stations around, up to 20 manta can be seen queuing up on and around the cleaning station waiting for their turn to be inspected and pecked over by cleaner wrasse.

 

Manta Point was the first dive spot where Simon witnessed Manta courtship rituals which involves a mature female being chased by a “train” of up to 10 ardent male suitors in and out of the blue as well as up and down the reef itself. An incredible site to see. Moving on from diving from the resort at Kuda Huraa and jumping on board the Four Seasons Explorer, Simon sailed up to the Baa Atol which over the years has become famous worldwide for its own Manta aggregations only this time it is not just about cleaning but feeding. Hanivaru Bay is positioned perfectly to form a plankton rich cul-de-sac as wind and tide enhanced by the new full moon concentrates a thick soup of microscopic marine larvae, creatures and plants that can attract hundreds upon hundreds of manta rays from all around as well as up to 10 whale sharks at a time.

Four Seasons soon realised the beauty and opportunities of the Baa Atol and built their second resort based on the island of Landaa Giraavaru just 30 mins boat ride away from Hanifaru. Four Seasons commitment to marine conservation and education has always been a pillar of their marine activities and began by employing a young Englishman by the name of Guy Stevens as their resident marine biologist. It was not long before Guy became particularly interested in manta rays realised that little was known about then. In 2011 Guy founded the Manta Trust to co-ordinate global research and conservation efforts for these incredible creatures. UNESCO then declared that the entirety of the Baa Atol as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve where conservation, research and development successfully interconnect. Hanifaru is now world famous and visited by hundreds of tourists every week from all over the world.

The Journey Continues

Roll on 15 years since Simon first stepped onboard the Four Seasons Explorer, and his first encounter with Manta Rays within Hanifaru Bay, to October 2017 and Simon was once again embarking on an another Four Seasons Explorer voyage but leaving the Baa Atol behind they headed down to the popular dive sites of the Raa and Ari Atols in the south.  At the request of a couple of onboard guests they set out in search of a particular snorkeling site a few hours off of the regular FS Explorer route and diving schedule in the North Ari Atol and came across what can only be described as a second “Hanifaru Bay” for just as there is in the Baa Atol here was a naturally and perfectly formed coral reef cul-de-sac which at full new moon trapped and concentrated a rich plankton soup much to the Manta rays delight.

Simon, as well as the Explorers guests and staff, soon found themselves surrounded by an estimated 50-60 Manta Rays barrel rolling from top to bottom, surface feeding as well as forming long manta chains, an incredible cyclone feeding event of gaping hungry mouths. For over an hour they were treated to one of the most spectacular of marine shows and we are proud to share a little of that experience with you here.

Click here to watch these incredible animals in action.

 

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