A staggered arrival of our guests for this Maldives safari, left 10 of our guests getting wet early on Dharavandhoo Faru for their check dive. The next day our whole group had arrived so it was time for a dive at Dharavandhoo Thila. With a steady current running over the lip of the submerged pinnacle, we had thick schools of red tooth trigger, surgeon fish, midnight snapper and a myriad of other fish life dancing in the current. Heading out the same day we treated our divers to what is arguably one of the best dives in the whole area; Christmas Tree Atoll. This absolute gem of a dive site is currently completely covered in glass fish, so much so in fact that it is difficult to see the Thila from any distance and when you push your way through the cloud of fish it is nearly impossible to see your buddies as the curtain closes around you! Truly incredible! The usual suspects awaited us with white tips, grey reef sharks, dog toothed tuna and blue fin trevally. The day finished on a truly successful expeditionary night dive on Fodu Faru. The soft coral overhangs revealing stone fish, banded boxers shrimp and Maldivian sponge snails.
The following day we dived again on Christmas Tree Thila. I would happily dive there for the whole day! We saw something very unusual on this second dive however. Like the majority of the sharks and rays, grey reef sharks are a species known only to extract oxygen from the water through Ram ventilation, a process which requires oxygenated water to continually flow over their gills. Basically, they cannot stop swimming or they will suffer hypoxia. From knowing this I was extremely surprised to see an adult grey reef lying flat on the sea floor right at the narrowest point of a swim through. The shark seemed to be pumping its gills and I immediately thought the animal was unwell. I surfaced with the creature’s plight on my mind and after some research and an email to a contact working for the shark project, I was told that grey reefs can stay still for a limited time and that the grey reef was likely to be giving birth! You learn something new every day it seems! I can’t wait to get back there and check for baby sharks!
The manta rays in Baa Atoll really weren’t coming out to play this trip despite our best efforts, but due to a turn in the weather, we had to shelter here for an extra day. All was not lost though as we discovered the best night dive in the whole of the Atoll! A resort right next to where we have our night anchorage empties their kitchen scraps into the sea from their dock. Thankful for an easy meal, these scraps attract marbled ray’s, fantail rays, Giant Morays, Honeycomb Morays, Ramora and for some unknown reason, hundreds upon hundreds of silver sides! All the creatures combined made for an extremely exciting night dive! Rays, stirred up the sandy bottom in big piles as they fought for the tastiest tip bits and the silversides confused by our lights and harassed by predatory fish from above, made us feel like we were inside a snow globe. The reflective sides of these little fish glinted and shone, the combined effect of all their little bodies was a unique experience, especially when they were completely disorientated and swam straight into us at full speed. The snow globe then turning into a hail storm!!
After sitting out the storm (quite a pleasant experience as it happens as the storm seemed to be localized in Male and Ari leaving us with blue skies!) we finally made our crossing to Rasdhoo Atoll. Although the seas were a little choppy, good weather followed us all the way South and we arrived in good time for one of the best dives of the trip; Madivaru Kandu. By far one of my favourite dive sites, Madivaru was spectacular on this time. Despite a difference in opinion between Instructor Krista and I, there were either 16 or 17 grey reef sharks swimming right on the edge of the reef! The sharks were only a few feet from where we were perched! These fascinating animals would stop momentarily holding their breath and adopting a vertical position while bold cleaner wrasse darted in to do a bit of dentistry on the impressive set of teeth!
Two nights later and we were anchored in our favouriteFesdu Lagoon to watch the Manta show. With quite a few manta virgins in tow, our groups knelt in wide-eyed amazement as these graceful creatures dived and twirled in our torch light! Utterly breath-taking as always! It was a late and reluctant departure from Ari, leaving us just enough time for a day’s diving in South Male and then sailing, sunbathing and relaxing all the way home. A truly fantastic cruise on board the Maldives Siren with some really appreciative guests. You guys were great. Thank you! Tom