When & Where To See Manta Rays In The Maldives
Today is the first World Manta Day to ever be celebrated in the world - and we are beyond excited to celebrate these amazing marine animals! If you have dreamt of swimming with these fascinating creatures in The Maldives, then you're in the right place.
We're going to let you in on all the secrets about when and where you can find manta rays (known as 'Madi' in Maldivian language) in The Maldives - so that your chances are extremely high of swimming with these majestic creatures. We guarantee that it will be an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience!
WHEN CAN YOU SEE MANTAS IN THE MALDIVES?
Whether you're diving or snorkelling, manta rays can be spotted all around The Maldives as well as all year round, but there are some spots that are better than others, as well as some timings that are more optimal.
Manta rays migrate seasonally within the Maldives, following the bi-annual movement of microscopic animals called plankton. This is what mantas feed on in masses. The Maldives is an amazing destination for sightings of manta rays. To know where to find manta rays at any time in The Maldives, you will need to know a few things about the seasons and currents of the Indian Ocean.
As a recap, in the Maldives, there are two seasons - the rainy season, also known as the southwest monsoon which runs approximately from May to October. There is also the dry season, also known as the northeast monsoon which runs approximately from December and March. The transitional months are April and November between these two seasons/ monsoons.
Depending on the currents in the Indian Ocean, where there are strong upwellings and nutrient-rich deep waters - that's where you can analyse the areas with the most plankton. Thus, attracting the most manta rays.
In general, this means that from May to October it is more likely to see the manta rays on the eastern edges of the atolls and from December to March, it is more likely on the western outskirts of the atolls. Although there will never be a 100% guarantee for spotting manta rays, because after all they are in the wild, if you follow these guidelines you will definitely increase your chances!
WHERE CAN YOU SEE MANTAS IN THE MALDIVES?
Without a doubt, the most famous and the best place to see manta rays in The Maldives is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll. Between May and November, every year, during the rainy season, you can snorkel with hundreds of manta rays here, which will very likely also be accompanied by a dozen of plankton-eating whale sharks. Both these marine animals take advantage of the zooplankton trapped in Baa Atoll’s bays.
From June to November, Hanifaru Bay truly is a marvel for travellers. With Manta Trust's base there too, their research as conducted that there are over 1600 manta rays in Baa Atoll alone. This is a must-visit and you will be amazed! Please note that here you can only snorkel - diving is not allowed in Hanifaru Bay.
All year round, you can spot manta rays in Seenu Atoll. Seenu is in the untouched South of The Maldives and is a stunning place for scuba diving - probably the best in the whole of The Maldives. We would 100% recommend planning a trip here if you're a diving enthusiast. It won't get much better than Seenu! View all of our budget dividing trips there here.
More of a reason to go here is because Seenu Atoll is the only location in The Maldives where manta rays with over a 5-meter of wingspan are known to exist. How incredible is that??
Manta rays are also spotted in Ari Atoll in the northeast monsoon from September to May, with the best time being after February. In South Ari Atoll, you can see manta rays all year round. Depending on the time of year, manta rays are often encountered by divers at Madi Faru cleaning station or Hukuru Elhi Faru. The best spot to find manta rays in Ari Atoll throughout the year is Dhigurah Etere - where you can snorkel with them in the lagoon.
4. Lhaviyani Atoll
North of Malé, you can also spot manta rays in Lhaviyani Atoll during the northeast monsoon, the best months being October to March. You will find the mantas feeding on the plankton at the Fushifaru Thila cleaning station. The manta rays usually stay around until March before heading to more plankton-rich atolls.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MANTA RAYS
Manta rays can live up to 40 to 50 years
Manta rays have been around for about 5 million years!
Manta rays body's are flattened, giving them the name “flat sharks”
There are two species of manta rays: Resident Reef Manta Rays and Giant Oceanic Manta Ray.
The Resident Reef Manta Rays, are the species of ray primarily found within Baa Atoll.
They use their gills to filter the microscopic food from the water.
Sooo, happy World Manta Day! We hope you enjoyed this blog post, alongside discovering more about manta rays and being inspired to visit them in The Maldives.
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