Manta Season Take Off01 Sep 2012
As we approach the European autumn the manta sightings are on the rise. Over the last few weeks we have had sightings all over the atoll, and on trips to neighbouring Noonu Atoll. In the south on the full day snorkel trips Danifaru and Kanifushi lagoon have provided guests with hours of close up manta experiences – as anywhere between 4-8 rays have cruised and rolled in the warm shallow waters of these sheltered areas feeding on the plankton. Some lucky divers had 10 rays in Fushi Varu marine reserve – one of or most popular dive sites – which has historically acted as a manta cleaning station for the larger individuals of the species.
The best thing is all of these sightings and the pictures being taken are feeding into the research being conducted by the Manta Trust – which aims to help better understand these creatures and help protect them for future generations to enjoy. The project of which Prodivers has been an active part of for the past 4 years helps to identify and track the movements of the manta rays around the Maldives, and to identify new inderviduals.
In this time we have seen over 240 different individual manta rays in our atoll, and one of the most exciting things about this year is the number of new sightings we are getting. We have already brought news of this year’s first new ray – Fufi, and since then we have had one more confirmed new ray (Tumbler) and have another 4 suspected new rays waiting confirmation (shown below), through analysis of their unique marks on the underside of the manta rays.
It is not clear if these new rays are the result of increased observations allowing us to better monitor the resident rays of the Lhaviyani atoll (mainly thanks to our guests dedication to helping us record any sightings we get) or due to changes in migrational patterns bringing in a new slice of the Maldivian manta population to the Lhaviyani atoll.
Currently our population consist of 238 individuals, more than half of which are still juveniles, over 2350 Manta Rays have recorded across the Maldives by the Manta Trust.