Manta Action for Kamtime Adventures
Manta Action for Kamtime Adventures
This Maldives Siren trip started with a welcome break in the clouds and brilliant sunlight to welcome our group of seasoned American divers. Eager to get wet after 36 hours of traveling we moved through our briefings and dived on in on for our check dive at Fedu Finolu. Green turtles, bearded scorpion fish, dog toothed tuna and giant morays were all in the welcoming committee! Out first full day of fun started with a bang at Lankan Manta Point. With a lazy current running right shoulder we enjoyed a very gentle drift dive, admiring the sleeping white tips, schooling oriental sweetlips and four striped snapper. Schools of neon fusilier and rainbow runners doing swim bys kept us company until out of the gloom appeared the outline of an animal my eyes had been straining to glimpse. Manta! After some furious tank banging to attract my rather distracted divers we all got a look at what we’d come here for. A great taster on what hopefully would become a theme to the trip.
Making an early start on the morning of the third day we started the engine and made our way over to Ari Atoll as planned where right at the edge of the atoll is a dive site going by the name of Bathaalaamaaga Kahnthila. A mouthful to be sure and for half our group at least it was also an eyeful! Making a rapid descent into the strong current we inched forward until we were on the edge of the reef. As hoped for were some big meaty grey reef sharks were patrolling up and down. Some of them covered from head to toe in Ramoras! Drifting in the ripping current were also some huge Napoleon wrasse, their giant clumsy looking bodies amazingly unaffected by the rushing water that kept us divers hanging on by our fingertips! After a good 30 minutes shark viewing we let go to drift over the reef where, waiting for us at the down current side, were 6 mobula rays! We had another good ten minutes watching these incredible creatures drifting in the current before finally starting our ascent through the blue waters.
A superb day of diving finished up with Maaya Thila, where the usual feeding morays and white tips entertained our divers. The slow deadly progress made by a creature I’ve never seen before however is what drew my attention. Creeping along the top of the Thila was a creature I had only seen in fish guides. A cone snail was making its way from one hidey hole to another obviously hunting out an unlucky victim! These predatory sea snails have a fascinating way of hunting, their proboscis are armed with a Poisonous ‘dart’ which they can fire out, injecting a lethal dose of venom into unsuspecting bottom dwelling fish. I was desperate to witness such an event but becoming increasingly aware of the dwindling interest of my fellow divers we moved onto watch the more exciting shark hunts!
A further great days diving in Ari was finished in another special way. With good weather being so unreliable at the moment I had my fingers crossed for a fair evening. Right on queue the sun appeared at around 4pm and we were on for our Beach Barbeque. Radigga Island is a special place we like to stop off at when we have a chance, with very basic facilities and a stunning panoramic of the beautiful Maldivian reefs we settled down for our candle lit meal. A fantastic evening spent listening to some very tasteful jokes!
I think the highlight of the trip happened on the following evening however. When the tides are right we can take our Siren Liveaboard right into the middle of Fesdu Lagoon. By shining powerful flood lights onto the water we attract plankton, which in turn attracts the one creature I never tire of diving with. Manta Rays! With some serious camera lighting equipment among our group this dive was even more special with manta’s literally dive bombing our waiting guests kneeling on the sand.
The following morning, as we waited for the tide to rise high enough to leave the lagoon, we dived at a place which was a treat for our macro lovers; Fesdu Wreck. It is literally covered from bow to stern in an unbelievable amount of life. Hard, soft and bush coral shelter pipe fish, ghost pipe fish, Durban dancer shrimps, nudibranchs, flatworms and thousands of glass fish. I’m never short of amazement on how long you can spend inspecting what is essentially a very small wreck. That day we also did re-dived one of the groups favourites. We had already had one great dive at Hafza Thila on a previous day. Our repeat dive on the site however really showed us Hafza’s full potential. Rarely do I lead a full hour’s dive and move so little. Even after trying to move our group off the edge of the thila I got stern looks and decided it was best to stay and let the action come to us! Grey reef’s gliding past again and again so close you could touch them! Plus a visit from my favourite little eagle ray. Identifiable from him having his tail missing this bold little creature displays no fear and comes exceptionally close to my groups. It was nice to see him alive and well.
A couple of days’ bad weather did nothing to drown our spirits! After the sun started shining on us again and we made our crossing to Baa Atoll we had a really special treat. Unfortunately in recent years Hanifaru Bay has not been as abundant in manta and whale sharks as had been previously witnessed but after conversing with Guy Stevens from the Manta Trust and checking on the tides we took our chances and snorkeled in the bay! Our luck was in! Along with fifteen feeding manta’s to entertain our snorkelers we also had a whale shark! This Juvenile male is seen a lot in the area and impressed our guests by posing for photos just a couple of feet away! Guy Stevens, who runs the Manta Trust charity, was also good enough to visit us aboard the Maldives Siren post snorkel to give a fascinating presentation on these wonderful animals; a truly fantastic way to round off another wonderful dive trip. Cheers! Tom.