Rain, wind, hail, the weather here in the Netherlands is very different than what I got to experience the past few months. I did found it a fantastic safari period which I want to share with you. I want to thank all guests who made this period to a success and I hope you had just a great a time as Christian (dive partner of Bas and also a former IDC candidate of mine) and me.
At the beginning of March I got on the Blue Dolphin in the Maldives after a winter of snow. The magnificent Indian Ocean was fantastic and familiar again. After a few days arranging logistics I picked up Christian and the adventure was about to start. The weather was great, we had no wind and it was very warm. This made it possible to dive according to the plan and we could use the less secured anchoring places and reach the best dive sites.
This was obviously not to spoil the fun because at Madifaru we came across some beautiful mantas and I had the opportunity to test my HD camera.
Unfortunately the fun for me didn’t last for long, a flooded underwater housing soon made short work of the camera….
After an always spectacular night dive at Maaya Thila where we saw white tip reef sharks, moray eels and stingrays hunting we sailed back through the South Male Atoll back to Male. Some of our guests had terrible storms last November and it was a relief for them to see that the Maldives can be sunny. Fortunately, the weather throughout the whole safari period was very good and sometimes people even secretly longed for a couple of showers.
Since the weather was perfect we could quickly sail go to the south of the Ari Atoll. Again they were working on the airport and again there was a lot of debris in the water. However, we were lucky and a few people who were quick enough to get in the water had the opportunity to snorkel with a whale shark for a brief moment.
At Madivaru we saw the manta rays again and as an experiment we made a dive on a new dive site where I saw 3 safari boats lying the season before.
After some Internet research and help from Google Earth I obtained the GPS coordinates. The dive site is called Aiyabu Thila and is near the island of Mandu in the south of the Ari Atoll. We were astonished when a dozen gray reef sharks accompanied us during the dive and we could end the dive on top of the fabulous Thila which was covered with beautifully intact hard coral. See among others the photo of the young parrot fish. Aiyabu Thila is definitely a dive site I would like to visit more often!
Back in Male Christian tried to buy fresh tuna at the fishing boats but his skin color made tuna suddenly 3x more expensive than normal. Fortunately, the captain knew somebody on a fishing boat and so we found a way to buy some fresh tuna for the next trip.
The third safari, we again tried to find whale sharks at Maamagili but we saw none when there are normally 4 or 5. Because of the little luck we had with whale sharks this period we decided not to go all the way to Maamagili anymore for the upcoming safaris. This due to the fact that it is a long way sailing and we miss out on some other great dive site.
Because we decided no longer to go to the south of the Ari Atoll now went to the Rasdhoo Atoll in the North of the Ari Atoll where whale sharks are also seen regularly. In the lagoon of the Ravesteyn we did not see them but at Rasdhoo we saw a whale shark accompanied by a couple of gray reef sharks!
We had more bad luck…. who would have thought that a volcano could affect our safaris, most divers in the last safari could not make it in time and we had to change our schedule to show them anything of the Maldives. Because of this we did a lo of dives in the North and South Male Atoll with many sharks and eagle rays but unfortunately we could not cross to the Ari Atoll.
During all safaris there is a big chance to see manta rays, sharks, turtles and other big game, but especially during the longer safaris, there is more time to wait for the good conditions to spot whale sharks which increases the chance of spotting this great animal.
Because it appears that the whale sharks at Maamagili are disappearing in the high season we go in search of their new residence. A place where we expect them to find is Hanifaru Bay in the Baa Atoll, a place where National Geographic made a documentary about and where in the west monsoon (June until November) and under the right conditions up to 200 mantas and 20 whale sharks can be seen. This autumn we are going there with a bigger, stronger, faster and more luxurious boat, the Dhinasha. There are still some places available and if there is enough interest we may open another period in September!
With kind regards,
Bas van der Mee