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The Hanifaru Manta Ray Season - Maldives

Published: May 8, 2023 - 14:11
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:06
The Hanifaru Manta Ray Season – Maldives

The tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world are dominated by the majestic Reef Manta Ray (Mobula Alfredi).

The Republic of the Maldives attracts numerous visitors each year, undoubtedly due to the captivating large animals such as the manta ray.

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manta ray
photo: Karl Haegens

Despite its small landmass, the Maldives boasts a rich underwater biodiversity, with the atolls dominated by the world’s seventh-largest and most diverse coral reefs. The republic has achieved many conservation targets over the last few years to ensure the sustainability of its biosphere.

The beginning of May marks the start of the Hanifaru season, which refers to the migration of feeding manta rays into Hanifaru Bay. This unique bay is located in Baa Atoll, one of the top diving destination islands in the world. Its peculiar shape creates planktonic blooms that attract hungry manta rays. The season is at its peak between June and October as the southwest Monsoon forces large populations of zooplankton into the bay. At least 200 manta rays can be seen feeding in optimal tidal conditions.

During their normal migration, manta rays swim organized and coordinately. However, when they enter Hanifaru Bay, the concentration of prey causes them to swim in all directions in a confused state.

manta rays swimming by
photo: Settavit Pacharatikasuk

 

The sight is truly picturesque however one might need to take photography notes as the planktons create very murky water. On the other hand, for conservation purposes, it is not allowed to use underwater light when visiting the bay. A special permit is required to be able to use flash for photography, especially for commercial motives. The chaotic nature of the rays during the feeding would also be difficult to capture in a photo, and thus videography would be the ideal capturing method to get the motion of the sight.

On the whole, the Republic of the Maldives is famous for its wide ocean biodiversity. The warm waters and tropical paradise attract tourists all year round for both ocean and terrestrial trips. Hanifaru Bay is a destination fit for all forms of visitors as the groups of manta rays are easily spotted in the water. Baa Atoll has developed several liveaboards that provide a peaceful and guided experience for exploring the reefs while ensuring environmental protection, allowing visitors to enjoy the sights without causing harm.

Undeniably, a must-visit.

 

 

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About author

Jasmine Mifsud
Jasmine Mifsud, who hails from Malta, has an incredible interest in the water surrounding the small island. Her passion for the sea is not surprising, since as a little girl, her biggest dream was to explore the oceans. This ambition created its own pathway as every decision she ever made led her to become an influential woman who decided to create a life for herself instead of living in someone else’s shoes. As time flew by, she became more adventurous and curious about our blue planet. She specialized in environmental sciences and took a tangent route into maritime archaeology, which she considers to be one of her best decisions to date. Throughout her journey, she has built friendships with some of the most inspiring divers globally, all of whom share unique experiences and stories worth listening to. As a young woman in the industry, her journey has only just begun.
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