The Manta Invasion

manta-underwater-ocean-768x1366One of the biggest fascinations for those seeking scuba diving or snorkeling experiences in the Maldives, is the high likelihood of observing white sharks and manta rays. The Maldivian waters, and in particular Baa Atoll is home to one of the world’s most significant stocks of whale sharks and manta rays. While whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and Giant Oceanic Manta rays (Manta Birostris) are classified as Near-Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they can be spotted in local waters along with Reef resident Manta Rays (Manta Alfredi).  Although approximately 5000-6000 Reef Resident Manta Rays make up the majority of the manta ray population, Giant Oceanic Manta Rays with wingspans up to 12 feet can also be observed at specific locations within the country.  As such, “Hanifaru Bay”, a protected uninhabited island in Baa Atoll of the Maldives is one of the world’s hottest locations for such observations.

Manta Ray species and Whale Sharks that can be approximately the size of 40 feet shipping containers are known to visit Baa Atoll throughout the year, but theyhanifaru-bay are particularly well spotted in Hanifaru Bay during the Hulhangu Moosun (South West Monsoon). Such visits in numbers coincides with an annual feeding event, in which returning whale sharks and manta rays feed on high concentrations of zooplankton such as copepods for up to 7 months in between May to November. The spectacular invasion of manta rays and whale shark populations make Hanifaru Bay one of the Earth’s rare spots in which such numbers aggregate to feed. Several Giant Oceanic Manta Rays has been spotted feeding amongst the Hanifaru manta population, while three Mobula ray species and six other species of rays have also been recorded inside the Hanifaru MPA.  Up to 200 manta rays could be feeding off the Hanifaru Bay reefs at a given time, making it arguably the world’s largest Manta Ray feeding area and gaining widespread acclaim as the subject of National Geographic video and photo documentaries.

Although Whale Sharks and Manta Rays were traditionally harvested to reap Manta Ray Feeding Frenzy Source National Geographicprofits from their oil and fins, Baa Atoll has noticeably brought an end to such practices. Although there has been anecdotal information of harmful activities from sources outside the country, such reports mainly relate to accidental killings caused by sea traffic and fishing nets. Such efforts, along with better monsoon factors in Baa Atoll can be attributed to the The Manta Trust’s Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP) recording of an increase in manta sightings by 30% last year, to reach 3,000 sightings. The MMRP report also states that a decline in manta ray population in unlikely, and also refers to encouraging evidence on near future pregnancies.

Various NGOs, stakeholders and the Maldivian government has identified and reacted to potential damages that could be caused by increasing visitor numbers. As such numerous guidelines and rules are being set up and enforced to ensure their feeding habits remain unchanged. Moreover, Hanifaru Bay along with Anga Faru were designated as Marine Protected Areas in 2009, while Baa Atoll was designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2011.

Manta Ray

Six Senses Laamu creates the first code of conduct in Maldives for Dolphin Watching.

Dolphin Watching Guide from Six Sense Laamu

First ever code of conduct for dolphin watching has been developed by Six Senses Laamu Resort. Dolphin watching, which is popular among many of the tourists that visit Maldives has not had any form of regulations or code of ethics that should be followed. With the implementation of this code there is a higher guarantee of protection and sustainability for the local population of dolphins.

The hard work of resident Marine Biologist, Rachel Lambert the code of conduct summarizes in seven main points:

• Keep at least 50 meters away – two boat lengths
• Do not approach from directly behind or head on
• Allow the dolphins to choose to approach the boat
• No rapid changes in speed or rapid changes in direction – be predictable
• 6 knots when within 150 meters
• Do not cut them off or chase them
• Do not separate mothers and calves

Six Senses Laamu resort has been identified as a pioneer in educating and implementing certain guidelines in order to ensure sustainability and prevent harm coming to the environment. Recognizing the role of a resort and the delicate nature it operates due to its dependence on nature, which is especially evident in Maldivian tourism, Six Senses Laamu has always been an advocate of protecting the environment. The code engineered is also adhering to its policy of improving ecological footprint of biodiversity conservation, preservation and restoration within the resort as well as nearby surrounding areas.

The resort is now campaigning in order to extend to all Maldives resorts and other destinations to ensure that tourists and tourism providers of all regions would be able to do there part in helping the eco system. With such a delicate balance in place, we need more research and acts such as this for the betterment of the world and a more sustainable future.

 

Source: Sixsenses

Maldives Diving Liveaboards

The Maldives is one of the renowned top class diving destination. Loved by the dive travelers for its charming natural beauty, the islands are ringed by white sandy beaches leading to turquoise waters and reefs where marine life is rich and diverse. We provide divers an opportunity to explore Maldives above and below the surface within our Maldives liveaboards tours. The tours are carried with highly experienced dive guides in charge and focusing on the best dive sites possible to do the tour. Typically diving in Maldives require a minimum number nights of 7 nights . Gives you a full week to explore 2 to 3 atolls of Maldives liveaboard diving. Our Maldives diving Liveaboards vessels comes with hospitable crew, with years of experience in serving divers and tourists, caters to your needs and ensure that you have a wonderful time in the Maldives.

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