Of course we were devastated as our incredible 2016 Manta season came to a close, with the last spectacular gathering on our cleaning station coming in on November 23rd, followed by the odd sighting through until December 20th.
However, best not to dwell, as the Mantas have already re-appeared on the Western side of our atoll! This is only a 35 minute boat ride away, and this time they're on a cleaning station that is only 2m deep: Rasfari! One of my favourite places to see Mantas in the Maldives, this station allows snorkelers of all abilities the amazing experience of swimming with a gentle giant!!
Because this special area is so shallow, it is more important than ever for us to abide by the Manta interaction guidelines set forward by the Manta Trust. Guide "Divey" was more than happy to head out on today's training session (Right). If only all work-related training included Manta snorkeling...
The Mantas are here because the seasonal winds have changed direction, pulling all their planktonic food to the West. This means we get to see the exact same individuals, but in a totally different setting. We couldn't be happier to see our favourite male Manta "Simple" over at Rasfari last week. Simple is one of the smaller males, last seen by us at the back of the pack of males courting big female "Pickle" in October. This time we saw him cruising over the shallow reef alone, getting a good scrub from those all important cleaner fish, whilst Pickle was seen feeding with 7 friends in Bodu Hithi Channel a few days later. With his missing tail, single clasper, and distinctive 3 spot pattern, Simple is easy to tell apart from his fellow Mantas. He also wins the prize for 'most photographed Manta belly' at Gili Lankanfushi due to his super friendly nature!
If anyone is heading to Maldives in the next few months, make snorkeling with mantas your must-do activity, and check out the Manta Interaction Guidelines to maximise your experience!