manta ray of the maldives
My first experience of a manta ray was totaly unexpected, my wife and I were having an evening drink on the end of the jetty
on Sun Island.
This is where the Italian restaurant and the decking area sits over the house reef, and at night a spotlight lights up a large section of this lively coral reef, where you can watch hundreds of colourful tropical reef fish.
We were watching these when a giant manta ray came swooping in to view, it was feeding, going back and forth twisting and turning over the reef. It was huge and we were totally mesmerised by this fantastic sight.
That same manta was there every night for the next five nights.
Generally speaking October/November is the end of the south west monsoon and the end of the mating season on the east side of the atolls. This is one of the best times to see manta here as the ocean pressure on the east side starts to push through clear water leading to better visability.
As the plankton gets washed across to the west side of the atolls so the manta migrate there, basicaly following their food.
So the end of November is the end of manta season in the east and the begining of the season in the west.
They then stay in the west for around six months untill May/June when the process is reversed and they head back east.
As a matter of interest a recent study of the Maldivian manta suggests that their population may be counted in the hundreds of thousands.
Every island that I have stayed on all have a dive site called manta point or have a cleaning station where you can watch mantas queuing up to be cleaned by cleaner wrasse, so if you make sure that you are on the right atoll at the right time of year you cant really go wrong.
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