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