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Manta Point Maldives
If the Maldivian State were to choose an emblem, this fish could be high on the list of as it is associated with diving in the archipelago.
This harmless giant of 3 to 5 meters of wingspan feeds exclusively on plankton. In the Maldives, it is observed, like the whale shark, year-round following the migration of plankton. Manta rays, present in the southwestern Ari Atoll from November to April, move north towards the archipelago in the North Male Atolls, South Male and Vaavu at the rest of the year.
The Manta Point is one of the best diving spots in the Maldives. As the name suggests, there is a strong concentration of manta rays but also multicolored tropical fish and, from November to April, the incredible whale shark. Manta Point is one of our favorite diving spots in the Maldives. At a depth of 15 or 20 meters, we cross magnificent coral blocks and we approach the reefs to enjoy the fairy-like spectacle that unfolds before our eyes: that of moray eels, parrots, grouper and stripes that swim in perfect freedom in the heart of a life-size aquarium.
It is probably the most touristic atoll because it contains dive sites of world-wide reputation. In addition to Ari, the atoll also encompasses a mini-atoll consisting of four islands in the northeast, Rasdhu atoll, and the island of Thodoo also in the north. Rasdhu is the reference in the Maldives for the observation of hammerhead sharks, and the South and West of Ari are known worldwide for the sightings of manta rays and whale sharks.
Some Ari Atoll emblematic dives:
BROKEN ROCK OR KUDA THILA
Kuda Thila is a small dry round of about fifty meters, cut in half by a large fault, hence its name. Surrounded by several blocks of coral, the three main ones reach about 15/20 m, it offers a superb fault covered with giant gorgonians. The blocks are also the habitat of a whole reef fauna: groupers, napoleons of various sizes, moray eels, angelfish, butterflyfish ... It is not uncommon to observe banks of barracudas off the blocks. The top of the dry, a tiny flat, presents beautiful bouquets of soft corals, as well as beautiful anemones with their clownfish and numerous scorpion fish in between corals.
This wreck diving takes its name from the nearest island. It is carried out on a small freighter about thirty meters long that rests barely at a depth of thirty meters. Pretty old, it is covered on many places with soft corals of a thousand colors. The wreck is also the habitat of "glassfish" benches, which contribute to its beauty. A small fauna is present everywhere: syngnathus, blennies and gobies, sheltered from the slightest hole in the wreck ... After the exploration of the boat, one can easily reach a tiny dry located barely 10 m deep. There, a group of grouper and moray eels will allow themselves to be approached quite obediently. Finally, it is possible to finish the dive calmly by swimming on less than 50 m, in direction of the South-West, to finish on the fall of the reef which goes up to 1/2 m.
THE BLUE CAVES
The blue caves take their name from the color of the soft or alcyonary corals that line the overhangs, along the dry. With a slight current, the dive gains in beauty, the polyps of the corals being released. Three coral potatoes also lined with soft corals and possessing small cavities and tunnels, are a good start for diving. With a little luck, we will surprise a sleeper shark in one of them. Facing the stream, you can admire emperor fish and snappers in small groups. Then we go slowly along the cavities of the main dry, covered with soft corals, which shelter very compact benches of blue-striped lizards, the most beautiful yellow, contrary to what their name suggests. Finally, we can finish the dive on the flat, where the entire reef fauna lodges about 8/9 m deep.
FISH HEAD OR MUSHIMASMIGILI THILA
Mushimasmigili Thila was a mythical dive of the Maldives. It is a more or less circular dry, with a diameter of about 150 m, located in the middle of the atoll and which goes up to 4 m. A population of thirty gray sharks, as well as 2 fish napoleon made its celebrity. Excessive fishing decimated the sharks and this site lost much of its interest and popularity. Long forsaken he ended up finding, over time, some of his guests. Today, even if it is not as glorious as in the past, some gray sharks patrol around, and, on the sandy bottom, towards 35/40 m, we can observe white tip sharks, even a guitar-shark. Of the two napoleons, the big male died and his female replaced it by developing masculine attributes: its size increases, its bump grows. A young person now occupies the role of the female. In the overhangs of the dry, banks of blue-striped lizards, and banks of platax are always present, with, under a few cavities, very large groupers.
This small freighter, intentionally dumped in 1991 to make it an underwater attraction, bears the name of the island next to which it is located. The boat is placed horizontally on the bottom of sand, at a depth of 30 m. The wreck is located 10 m from the reef of the island which rises almost to the surface, and where the dive is generally finished. The interest of the dive really lies in the wreck itself which has become a meeting place with sting rays regularly fed, and therefore quasi tame. While remaining cautious, because it is still a wild animal, it is very easy to approach them. The wreck is also the habitat of a bank of jacks with large eyes, "glassfish", as well as morays of Java and groupers.