Big Fish Galore
Big Fish Galore….
After my absence for 6 months, it felt good to be back in the Maldives. Sunshine and calm sea welcomed our 12 guests from around the globe; all keen to explore the 5 different atolls we offer during this itinerary. Our 10-night liveaboard safari got underway with a check dive at “Lankan Point” and though we did not see mantas this time we had our first encounters with white tip reef sharks, dogtooth tuna and green turtles. Back on board, we were treated to the first of many amazing sunsets and delicious meals from chef Saman, producing big smiles and full bellies all around. A beautiful morning with sunshine and a little breeze awaited our guests for the second diving day. Cruise Director Ernesto chose “Nassimo Thila” for the first dive of the day followed by a return to “Lankan Point”. This time our luck was in with a manta sighting; we all thought that would be a good sign for the rest of the trip. During lunch break Captain Ashraf motored the S/Y Maldives Siren to the South Male Atoll for an afternoon dive at “Kuda Giri” and the small wreck right next to it for some macro “hunting” spotting ornate and robust ghost pipefish and the day finished off with a night dive at Vilivary Giri.
Making a very early start the next morning we headed to “Kadhooma Thila” to see some shark action. A few grey reef sharks played in the current meanwhile eagle rays were sighted in the channel and leaf fish found resting on the reef. After our big breakfast we went for a fast drift dive to “Guraidhoo Corner” before leaving South Male Atoll to cruise south again to Vaavu Atoll with the famous Miyaru Kandu and Alimatha Jetty. Now for some true big fish action with sightings of eagle rays, mantas and grey reef sharks before we had some excitement with the nurse sharks during our night dive. Our divers were eager to get in the water the next morning for some typical Maldivian kandu (channel) diving. We started off with the favourite from yesterday “Miyaru Kandu”. This time we only experience a mild current so ended up with more of a macro dive with sightings of leaf fish and pipefish. During our breakfast second Captain Ahmed moved the Maldives Siren further south to “Yellow Wall” for a great drift dive with mobula rays, eagle rays and stunning soft corals. Continuing southwards we went to “Fotteyo” with its stunning coral overhangs and incredible amount of fish life and whilst the majority of our guests went to a little island to enjoy the sunset with a few beers and wine, 4 hardy divers went for the night dive.
Sunday morning kicked off with a great dive with tuna, manta ray and amazing soft corals in the overhangs, then as we made our way back to the Maldives Siren a pod of dolphins, returning from their morning hunt, came alongside as our escort. Yet more mobula rays along with millions of fusiliers were seen at “Rakeedhoo Kandu” before we left Vaavu Atoll and cruised to South Ari Atoll for our final dive of the day. The southern tip of Ari is known for its whale sharks, so the following morning after a great dive at “Kudarah Thila” we went on the search, finding 2 during our snorkelling excursion and then even better we also had three whale sharks coming by during the dive, can you think of a better way to start the week? Certainly no Monday-morning blues here! The day finished up with dives at the “Machafushi” wreck.
Moving over to the eastern die of Ari Atoll we hoped for more manta action but unfortunately the cleaning station at “Camel Rock” was empty but dives at “Radhigaa Thila” and “Dega Thila”, certainly made up for the lack of mantas providing sightings of grey reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, dog tooth tuna and schools of trevally. With a nice incoming tide we headed for “Panettone” the next morning to enjoy an amazing dive along the colourful soft corals which covered the overhangs. “Fesdu Wreck” was up next and again a great dive with all the glassfish around this small wreckage. The little thila which the wreck sits next to is perfect for the second part of the dive, providing a great way to multi-level over the reef and enjoy some critters. The top being covered with anemones. The excitement mounted as we prepared for some more big fish action thila diving at “Fish Head” and “Maya Thila” for our night dive. Stunning corals, schools of fish, a wreck and plenty of sharks, we had it all today.
It was a bit rainy this morning but never then less we headed for “Hafsa Thila”, in the northern Ari Atoll, to see the resident grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and at the end of our dive a little baby eagle ray played with us for 20 minutes. Back at the Maldives Siren chef Saman had a delicious breakfast prepared to get everybody’s energy up for the next dive. We made one more dive in Ari before we moved to our last atoll, Rasdhoo. First up was “Madivaru Kandu” with a slight incoming tide we saw an amazing amount of fish life including grey reef sharks and large dogtooth tuna. For our final two more dives we opted to remain at Madivaru and what a great decision! Leopard sharks, grey reef and black tip reef sharks were all seen before it was that inevitable time to set off on our return journey to Male. The crew put the sails up and again the weather gods were with us providing a flat calm see and sunshine the whole way back as the guests relaxed on the sundeck and enjoyed the final hours aboard.