The Indian Ocean waters are home to hundreds of manta rays and between the months of May and November, depending on the tides, the beautiful creatures head to Hanifaru Bay, a lagoon near an uninhabited island in the Maldives, for a feeding frenzy.
The manta rays are drawn to the bay when the lunar tide pushes against the monsoon current creating a suction effect which swirls plankton and krill to the ocean surface.
British marine biologist, Guy Stevens, has been researching manta rays in the Maldives for a number of years. He explained: "Just after high tide you'll see a few manta rays turn up. Then poof, a whole group will move in, and you'll get as many as 200 feeding for two to four hours in a bay no bigger than a soccer field."
The spot is a popular location for diving with manta rays but Stevens is concerned that the waters could become overcrowded, causing lasting damage to the bay and its marine life.
"Word is out that Hanifaru is a top manta spot," he explained, "and although the government has declared the bay a 'protected area, we still don't have any regulations in force to limit the number of divers and snorkellers who can swim at any one time."
During feeding time, the mantas often stay close to the surface enabling people snorkelling or scuba diving in the Maldives to get close to the creatures. The mantas are often joined by other rays and giant whale sharks who have come to feed on the plankton.
However, despite providing the perfect diving sites for travellers and scuba divers, Stevens is concerned that without regulations, the crowded waters could drive mantas out of the area and is has proposed turning the bay into a marine sanctuary.
Progress has been slow but Maldives Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam said: "I'm not ruling out declaring Hanifaru a marine-life sanctuary. But we need to increase our ability to enforce existing environmental laws before creating new protected areas."
About the Author:
My passion for scuba diving started when I was a child.Now,I get to work in what I love by being a news editor at The Scuba Place a website fromThe Holiday Place specialising in scuba travel and scuba diving holidays across an ample range of exotic worldwide diving destinations.Through my writing I can reach out to people with the same passion and share interesting scuba news