The Maldives is home to around 5000 manta rays
The Maldives is home to around 5000 making it the largest known population of reef mantas in the world. Thus it’s no surprise that the Maldives boast that one of their most sought-after activities is swimming with mantas.
One would think that Mantas love luxury because they are frequently spotted at some of the most luxurious destinations in the world. Think Tahiti, Queensland and the Maldives.
Migrating across the country’s 26 atolls with the changing monsoons, mantas can be spotted in many places including key sites such as Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives. Between May and December, hundreds of manta rays and whale sharks gather here while feeding in the bay.
To celebrate World Manta Day on 17 September, Visit Maldives offers their top manta ray spotting destinations:
Swim at Ari Atoll, Maldives
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.
Swim Baa Atoll, Maldives
Baa Atoll – Hanifaru Bay is famous for its congregation of manta rays because of the high concentration of plankton in the bay. Travelers 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
When you find your swimming partners – their groups are called squadrons note that they have the largest brain-to-body weight ratio of any living fish. Remember while their looming size will take your breath away, you don’t need to sweat. Manta rays are completely harmless to humans, with a non-functioning tail spine and 300 tiny little teeth. Being filter feeders, their standard diet consists of crustaceans, plankton and small fish.