Swimming With Manta Rays In The Maldives: A Once-in-a-lifetime Experience – Holidaying in Maldives? Don’t miss the unique experience of interacting with the archipelago’s native aquatic creatures. Whether it’s dolphins, rays or whales, there are exciting tours to help you make the most of your time in this tropical paradise. If it’s manta rays from the Maldives you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.
Unlike many other fish species, manta rays are not ubiquitous. If you go here with one of the Maldives holiday packages, this is another reason not to miss the opportunity to play with them. Get to know these pelagic creatures better before boarding at Velana International Airport.
Swimming With Manta Rays In The Maldives: A Once-in-a-lifetime Experience
Manta rays are basically cartilaginous fish. Cartilage is the flexible part that makes up most of the internal structure of cartilaginous fish such as manta rays. Unlike bony fish, manta rays do not have scales. Instead, they resemble waterfowl that can glide in streams using their pectoral fins.
Swimming With Manta Rays Could Help Save Them
When it comes to stingrays, manta rays are the largest species, reaching 7 meters in width. In addition to triangular pectoral fins, manta rays have head fins that are curved to resemble a pair of horns. Located on the top of the head and under each eye, they are used to collect food and move sucked food into the mouth.
Between the fins of the head, the forward-facing manta ray has a wide mouth. While these marine fish feed mostly on non-current-moving krill, shrimp, and planktonic crabs, manta rays give these zooplankton an advantage by feeding and swimming on the water surface.
Their diet varies in deeper waters, where they feed on other small and medium-sized fish. Manta rays are macro-predators, but they feed on filter feeding, a process that allows them to retrieve their prey by pulling it back into open water as it attaches to gill sweeps, the tissue between the gill arches.
It’s important to note that because they are primarily a species of fish, mantas only breathe with their gills. The gill slits are located on their abdomen. Manta rays have a flat shape with a width of more than twice its length. They have small tails that they use to control navigation and swimming directions. There is a pair of small dorsal fins on either side of this tail.
Snorkelling With Manta Rays At Hanifaru Bay
Although the buoyancy of the water and the body structure of the manta ray make it easy for them to swim fast and swim on the sea surface, these aquatic creatures are very heavy. They can weigh up to 1,350 kg!
Manta rays are individually identifiable by the unique patterns and markings on their dorsal sides, which are usually dark in color. The bottom is very light. Black markings on the belly of manta rays are often the result of being bitten by cookie cutter sharks.
Manta rays are excellent swimmers who can even perform some acrobatic maneuvers. During the mating season, it is common for males to jump from the water surface or re-enter with their heads or tails to attract females.
Manta rays can be solitary or can be found in groups of up to 50 members. But when it comes to their gathering at the cleaning station, hundreds of manta rays can be found lined up at once.
Maldives Manta Season Without The Madness
A cleaning station is an area on a reef commonly used to clean up shellfish and other small fish that attach parasites such as copepods and other crustaceans to manta rays.
Usually at high tide, manta rays line up at deep-sea cleaning stations, and the cleaning creatures feed on parasites stuck to their bodies, gill holes, mouths, and even bite wounds.
The Maldives offer many opportunities to see manta rays. If you’re staying at any of the luxury resorts in the Maldives, check with the on-site diving school to see if they offer cruise excursions or swimming, diving or snorkeling trips with manta rays. There are only two types of stingrays in the world, and both are found on these tropical islands:
The resident reef manta rays, known scientifically as Mobula alfredi or M. alfredi, are the world’s second largest species of stingray but are vulnerable. Disc widths vary between 3 m and 3.5 m, while some very large ones can reach 5.5 m. In the Maldives, reef manta rays are often found in the Indian Ocean and near coastal areas. They have 5 dark colored gill slits on their backs. The ventral surface has numerous lighter colored bands near the head of the stingray.
Manta Ray Snorkel And Dive Tours Along The Kona Coast (2023)
The only other manta species, the giant sea mushroom, is endangered. This ray is the largest type of ray on Earth, with a disc size of up to 7 meters. To identify this type of manta ray, look for a brightly colored belly with a series of spots around the belly. The gill slits of the giant sea manta rays are usually black, as are the mouth and head fins.
Manta ray watching will definitely be on your list when you decide to book an activity in Maldives. Some Maldives water villas in resorts like Hideaway Beach Resort are lucky enough to have manta rays swimming on their beaches!
If the main purpose of your vacation is to see manta rays, book your hotel in Maldives near manta watching. Manta ray tours are often paired with whale shark sightings, so you can look forward to this experience as well.
Some of the best atolls to see manta rays in Maldives are Ba Atoll, Adu Atoll, South Ari Atoll and Lhawiani Atoll.
Diving, Snorkeling Or Swimming With Manta Rays
Manta rays move from time to time to different atolls, depending on ocean currents, plankton movement (where mantas often eat), and the presence of cleaning stations (where mantae regularly stop to clean their bodies, gill slits, mouths, and wounds). Ras and Minnow.
When it comes to Baa Atoll, most divers are familiar with Hanifaru Bay, where one can witness the spectacular scenery of hundreds of manta rays and a few whale sharks congregating to feed on zooplankton. Although scuba diving is not allowed here, you can snorkel from afar and be stunned at the sight of these large mantas huddled together.
Book a day trip to the Maldives here to witness the cyclone-like feeding phenomenon of how these manta rays feed in large groups roughly the size of a football field by pulling plankton and krill into an underwater hole. This is due to the suction created by the currents due to the action of the moon and the tides.
Feeding manta rays is an activity not to be missed in Maldives. Over the course of about 2 to 4 hours, over 400 manta rays can be seen picking up a meal while being served in a bowl for them to enjoy their chosen prey.
Best Time To See Manta Rays In Baa Atoll, Maldives 2023
Note that while humans do not disturb the manta rays’ natural cyclonic feeding, each tourist takes a certain amount of time to stay underwater, as a large group of observers are given a fair chance to be there.
There are many places in Baa Atoll where you can see manta rays and even dive with them, except Hanifaru Bay, because there are no restrictions because it is not crowded. The entire Ba Atoll is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and offers the opportunity to see abundant megafauna.
Dhonphanu Thila is a relatively unknown underwater peak that starts 8 meters below sea level. A
It allows you to see not only manta, but also other fish such as star rabbitfish, red-toothed triggerfish, angelfish, black pyramid butterflyfish and parrotfish. Admire the black coral reefs that line the narrow swimming lanes in this area of Ba Atoll and go down to a maximum depth of 25 meters.
An Up Close Invitation To Meet The World’s Largest Known Manta Ray Population At Four Seasons Maldives At Landaa Giraavaru
Not far from Hanifaru Bay, Dharavandhu Corner is another famous cleaning station frequented by manta rays. Many dive tours in the Maldives allow you to dive here the same day after a snorkeling tour in Hanifaru Bay.
Another interesting dive site in Baa Atoll is Nellivuru Ha. Manta season sees the entire reef turn into a cleaning station. However, if you visit at any time, you will still be amazed by the eastern luscious lips, stingrays, bats, and large groupers. Additionally, the topography is interesting, with coral reefs and star-shaped canyons.
Dive up to 12 deep
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