When you think of the Maldives, you think of crystal clear waters and sand that’s whiter than snow. What you may not associate with the Maldives is swimming side-by-side with manta rays. However, the Maldives is one of the best places in the world to swim alongside these majestic animals of the sea.
The Maldives – off the coast of South Asia – is home to an estimated 5000 manta rays; the largest population of reef manta rays in the world! Between May and December, these giants of the ocean can be spotted swimming in and around the bay, feeding. In celebration of World Manta Day, today, Visit Maldives has provided us with some suggestions of the best places to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal:
- Ari Atoll – although the manta rays follow a seasonal migratory pattern, they are found in these waters year-round. Between November and April, there is a greater presence on the western side of the atoll, and between May and October, they move over to the eastern side.
- Baa Atoll – Hanifaru Bay is famous for its congregation of manta rays because of the high concentration of plankton in the bay. Travellers can snorkel in the waters while being surrounded by hundreds of manta rays and because the rays are friendly and curious they will not be afraid to come up close
Some quick facts on manta rays:
- Despite their huge size, mantas feed on microscopic animals called zooplankton
- The world’s largest known manta ray population is based in the Maldives and live here year-round
- Every manta ray has a unique spot pattern on its belly that can be used to identify individuals, just like fingerprints
- Manta rays are close relatives to sharks, meaning they have a skeleton made of cartilage rather than bone
- Some manta rays reach seven meters from wingtip to wingtip and can weigh up to two tonnes
- As far as fish go, mantas have one of the largest brains, which supports their curiosity and complex social interactions
What are you waiting for? The Maldives is awaiting your arrival and the mantas are ready to accompany you through the blue waters of South Asia.