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Mantas in the Maldives

by Steve Rudge

Manta Ray & SteveEverybody was up and about fairly early on the first morning, even thou we had all been up late sipping our coconut cocktails that we received as we arrived on board the MV Amphibiya the night before. We had not seen the Maldives during day light until now having arrived at 9.30pm, at an airport that sat on top of a tropical island of its own. There’s no standard taxi rank here, everyone has to get on  a boat to transfer to their location.

As I looked out from our new home it was just as you see in the postcards, beautiful tropical islands in every direction, the weather is 29c all day and night and the water is the same temperature as well. What a nice change from the cold winter back in Perth and I was sure looking forward to getting into the water without a 5mm and a hood. After a big tasty breakfast provided by the ever smiling  and laughing local chef who’s nickname was strangely “Boris” (the owners of the yacht are Russian?) we got ready for the first dive of our trip.

It was a beautiful tropical reef called “Banana Reef” that was only  a 5min boat ride from where the yacht was moored, right on our door step. After some morning tea we sat down to listen to our local divemaster “Arti’s” brief for dive 2 and with one word he definitely got everyone’s attention “MANTA’S”. This dive site was one of the many in the Maldives that had the name Manta Point as there are nearly two thousand islands here. The one we were diving on was close to Paradise Island in the North Male atoll and was only 15min from the yacht, after receiving some good advice from Arti about keeping low and as still as possible when the Manta’s arrive, we set off extremely excited. The dive site itself was only 15m deep and there was no current to speak of, the visibility was a crappy 30m and we only had to wait about five minutes before they turned up, yes, they!

Manta Ray at the MaldivesOne after another we had six huge manta rays circling around us,  Arti our divemaster had made sure that we were positioned  right amongst the cleaning stations, that the manta rays hover over to let all the little tropical fish nibble on their skin. For the next 30 mins we watched, photographed and video’ed these amazing fish that were so close you could almost reach out and touch them. I had one particular Manta that swam around me for nearly six minutes within a couple of meters, I just left the video recorder on the whole time as it felt like it new what was happening and wanted to be on YouTube.

We left the water with all the manta’s still there, excitedly talking about this wonderful experience when I noticed Arti ( our divemaster) looking  a little bit annoyed. He was, he was upset and disappointed by the small amount of manta’s that showed up??, apparently when he dived this site the week before there were over 60 hovering around. Can you imagine diving with 60 manta’s, we all thought how fortunate we were to dive with six, who knows, maybe we will be lucky enough to experience many more than six next time? By the way that’s in September when the water here is still 16C.

To join Steve on his trip to the Maldives departing 30th August 2011 contact [email protected] or call 9455 4448.

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