Shark Seduction in the Maldives
Shark Seduction in the Maldives
Fourteen Australians arrived on time, together and ready for some fantastic diving in the Maldives! Day one was spent catching up, organizing dive kit and making a fabulous check dive on Kurumba House Reef where we spotted several black tipped reef sharks. This Maldives Siren trip was well underway and by day two and we were straight into the Maldivian dive action with manta rays spotted on Lankan Reef and a deep wreck dive at the Maldives Victory. This Goliath sank in 1981 after hitting the reef at full speed. It sank upright and sprayed its cargo of luxury items all over the sea bed. All that is left today is a hold full drinks bottles, bags of concrete and cassette players but with a lighter current than we often experience we were able to explore every her deck in full.
Day three started with a sleep in and an early crossing to Ari Atoll, with the ocean like glass it was smooth sailing the whole way! Arriving at Omadhoo Thila we immediately dived in, enjoying the soft corals and sightings of both white tip and black tip reef sharks. Making the most of the glorious weather the day finished with a beach barbeque at Raddiga Island, which we had completely to ourselves all under the brightest starlit sky obscured only by rustling palms. This stunning sight held our gaze and thoughts in between conversation and mouthfuls of seared steak, jumbo prawns and delicate cream covered sponge cake; an excellent effort by the crew which was really appreciated by everyone. We had been hearing reports of something rather special happening to the south of Ari so after consulting with the guests we made a slight a change to our intended itinerary and headed south! The risk paid off as within an hour our chief spotter Captain Ahmed had called us to a halt. Not 50 Metres from the Siren was a large dark shadow drifting just feet under the water. The call went out, ‘Whale Shark’!! Full reverse and a scramble to the dinghies put us in right in front of this 9 metre creature. Furious finning only just kept us level and maintaining a speed that was attained by one or two gentle tail strokes from the shark. After a quick snorkel we got back onto the Siren to get kitted out in full diving attire to jump back in! Adrenalin pumping and huge smiles all round.
The following day we smashed out three of my top three Ari dive sites; Fish Head, Hafza, Maaya and Maaya again for its famous night dive. On all three thilas we spotted the resident grey reef sharks, white tips and eagle rays before setting off on our night crossing to Baa. With bad weather expected we wanted to make as much ground as possible. Another incentive was the fact that Guy Steven’s from The Manta trust had been forwarding reports of large congregations of manta in Hanifaru bay and the surrounding Baa area. After our guide, Matt, checked the Bay we made our snorkel excursion to get our first glimpse of what we really came to see! A trio of fully grown reef manta were having their post feed clean on the main cleaning station right in the middle of the bay! With some stylish duck diving group leader David Gordon got some great shots of these beautiful creatures. The night was finished with what was arguably the best night dive on the trip. Our top secret dive site is now a firm favourite with the Siren dive team. An abundance of kitchen scraps from a nearby resort attracts tens of marbled rays, whip tail rays, fan tail rays and more morays than a guest would likely see throughout a whole cruise! Leopard, Giant, Fimbriated and Honey Comb Morays were all present.
The group this trip were a hard-core manta possee and with a quick show of hands it was decided we would stay in the area for our best chances of seeing the “big birds”. The following day the decision paid off with arguably the best dive of the trip. With great vis we had an amazing interaction with 7 manta rays on Dharavandhoo Thila; the last stop between the interior of the atoll and the wide open ocean. The mantas were heading only one way and we knew where! After a rushed breakfast we jumped back into the dinghies for another snorkel in Hanifaru Bay. This time the action was really hotting up with at least 15 barrel rolling and chain feeding. Fantastic!
Our last day diving was spent exploring some new sites for everyone. Having dived here for 14 years Matt our new guide knows Baa like the back of his hand and he was good enough introduce us the soft coral encrusted canyons of Fari Faru and Faaru Bayru. Two incredible sites that may well be joining the rest on my favorites list! Our afternoon was spent with beers and laughter on a deserted tropical island. A really great group and a fantastic cruise and thanks to everyone! Tom
Photos by Simon Cribbs