Work at the office is finally slowing down. I still need some time to catch up on photo and video edits. I think I’m gonna post the later edits in separate posts, and continue with the dive day updates before I forget them!
We had 4 dives scheduled on day 3, and one of the dives on that day was a real highlight dive! We started off the day diving at Hafsa Thila, another dive site in North Ari Atoll. Hafsa Thila is an interesting pinnacle dive, maybe about 100m wide, with the top of the pinnacle at about 10m, sloping down to 30-40m with some overhangs on both sides.
We had a mild current that day, but the amount of fish life there is amazing! Schools of surgeon fish, big eyed jacks, snappers, red tooth triggerfish and fusiliers can be seen around the reef, along with the other smaller reef fishes. We also had passing tuna a bit further out in the blue.
The most exciting part in this dive happened when some “not-so-shy” grey reef sharks made some close passes, close enough to touch! We spent a good 15 minutes hanging out there at that one spot, while the sharks just cruise around us.
The next dive was at a dive site called Fish Head. Fish Head is a part of a protected marine park, and there is just so much fish here! The top of the reef is at about 10m, and slopes down to 40+m. Fish Head is a dive site with many overhangs and ledges, with interesting coral formations. We have some really friendly batfish greeting us on our descend, and once we hit the reef, we see an unending school of snappers and fusiliers. We also had a few napoleon wrasse swimming across the reef during our dive. If you want to see a reef with rich marine life, this is the place to go!
Our third dive was a wreck dive, Fesdu Wreck. It is a small fishing boat wreck, and she lies in deep waters, at about 30m at the bottom, with the top at about 20m. You can still make out the shape of the boat, but she is entirely covered in soft and hard corals. We saw a mantis shrimp in a nest right below the bow of the boat in the sand, as well as lionfish, angelfish, a big school of glassfish among the other colorful reef fish. We had a mild current on 1 side of the boat, making it a little bit difficult to circle the wreck leisrely. Nearby the wreck, is a small thila with hard and soft corals, a perfect place to end the dive, with the top of the reef at about 10m.
As I was saying earlier in the post, and saving the best for last, our 4th dive of the day was in Fesdu lagoon. The Maldives Princess was anchored in the lagoon, and the crew quickly set up a huge light at the stern. We were to attract plankton to the light, which in turn, attracts the manta rays in the area!
The crew explained that it has been weeks since the mantas have shown up at night, but remembering our experience on our last trip, we just had to try our luck and hope the mantas show up. If you were to google night manta dives, you will most probably get a lot of links to Hawaii, so this is one very special dive indeed!
We were eagerly waiting for the mantas to show, when a couple of nurse sharks swam by. After about an hour, we had success! One manta showed up, and started feeding on the plankton. We were to wait and see if it would stay, and while waiting, we had our dinner, while the manta had his/hers.
After dinner, the manta was still there, dancing and rolling in the light, feeding on the plankton. We eagerly suited up and descended into the darkness, with our torch, and the light from the boat to light the depths. We knelt down in a circle on a sandy bottom at about 12m and pointed our torches upwards. And that is when, the show begins!
The manta would come sweeping across the light beams, scooping up as much plankton as it can manage, while avoiding us. The manta would pass right above us, barely missing our heads, and if we just stuck our hand up, we could have touched it. We spent the entire dive knelt down at the same spot, while the manta swam and danced around us. We even had a second manta visit us later at night when most of us have gone to bed! I have done this dive before, but doing it again, I still feel the same awestruck feeling watching the manta up close. I would do this dive again and again if I could.
I don’t think the pictures will ever do the dive any justice, nor would any video. You will have to be there and see it for your self! You can contact me to see if I’m arranging another trip to the Maldives again if you are interested, but for now, I guess the pictures will have to do. Til the next post, dive safe!