Baros Maldives is inviting guests to join in its survey to identify the many Manta Rays that can be seen at the Manta Ray dive spots close to the boutique island resort. The survey is being conducted by Divers Baros Maldives and has resulted in different Manta Rays being identified and entered into the first scientific database for Manta Rays which is maintained by the international Manta Matcher Organisation.
Little is known about these gracious giants of the sea that fascinate divers; in the Maldives there are thought to be some 5,000 of them. A Manta Ray can be identified by the distinctive markings on its belly, each one being marked differently, in the manner of humans being identified by their fingerprints.
At the resort, diving guests are invited to take photographs underwater of a Manta Ray’s “belly print” and compare it with the photographs already on the Divers Baros database. A diver who photographs a Manta Ray not seen before is offered the opportunity to give the Manta a name. The Baros Dive Centre has introduced an adoption scheme whereby the diver can receive regular reports on the Manta’s whereabouts and habits.
Currently, the dive base has data on 159 Manta Rays recognised over 10 years. Guests who re-visit the resort have a good chance to have a reunion with a Manta Ray they have seen on their dives in previous years. The database, through its link with Manta Matchers, can reveal where the Manta Ray has been over those years. From May to November and from January to April when sightings are frequent, are the best times for guest divers to join the resort’s Manta Ray survey.
Baros Maldives is a private bijou tropical island resort only 25 minutes by resort speedboat from the Maldives International Airport. Every one of its 75 elegant overwater and beachside villas is close to the resort’s Dive and Marine Centres where expert Dive Masters and Marine Biologists are on hand to assist guests in the Manta Ray survey.
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, offers guests the chance to get up-close-and-personal with manta rays at the world’s largest natural manta feeding destination, during their annual migration across the Indian Ocean. For the first time, guests have the rare opportunity to freedive with the gentle giants at the protected site of Hanifaru Bay, which can attract more than 100 rays around the time of the full moon. With the season well underway, guests still have time to witness the spectacle first hand before the end of November or to plan ahead for the next season which starts in May 2017.
With a wingspan of up to 7 metres, manta rays congregate at Hanifaru Bay during the south-west monsoon and, with optimum wind and tide conditions, enter a shallow cul-de-sac in the reef to feed on microscopic plankton, small fish and crustaceans. The Anantara team works closely with the rangers who protect Hanifaru Bay to get the insider scoop on the mantas’ movements so that guests can quickly reach the site, which is located only 45 minutes from the resort, maximising their chances of spotting the rays. Scuba diving is not permitted so guests now have the choice of snorkelling or freediving.
Hot on the heels of sister resort Anantara Dhigu Maldives’ announcement in May that it was opening the first PADI-accredited freediving centre in the Maldives, Anantara Kihavah is now also fully licensed. Whilst freediving has been popular in the Maldives for some time, the PADI certification offered by Elements, the water sports centre at Anantara Kihavah Villas, teaches divers proper breathing techniques and trains them on how they can enjoy the sport safely.
Coasting through the ocean with flowing, graceful movements that echo the natural motions of the Mantas that surround, freedivers experience a sense of oneness taking the Maldives’ manta experience to an entirely new level. Closer encounters, liberating mobility and the ability to glide with freedom from scuba or snorkelling equipment enhance an already unforgettable outing.
At the helm of Anantara Kihavah’s freediving centre is Talya Davidoff. A passionate, advanced freediving instructor, Talya is also a fully qualified marine biologist and a competitive freediver with a personal best of a depth of 42 metres. Adding even greater depth to her aquatic expertise, Talya will be undergoing training with freediving world champion, Alexey Molchanov, before the South African Championships in June next year.
Talya and the Elements team at Anantara Kihavah Villas are dedicated to safeguarding the wellbeing and habitat of the manta rays and enforce the strict regulations that have been set by the local rangers. Known for its commitment towards sustainability and protecting the local environment, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas also launched a coral adoption programme when the resort opened in 2001. Over the five years to date, Anantara’s team has continued to enhance its reef initiatives to accelerate the regeneration of coral growth.
Anantara Kihavah, which offers 79 spacious private pool villas poised overwater or nestled on a private beach, is located 30 minutes from Male by seaplane and boasts an abundant and colourful house reef of its own. For guests who wish to maximise their ‘bottom time’, SEA. FIRE. SALT. SKY. offers a one-of-a-kind over and underwater dining experience.
To reserve a stay at the resort and experience the thrill of freediving with mantas, or to learn more about freediving, contact +960 664 4111 or [email protected]. For more information on Anantara’s Maldives resorts, visit anantara.com.
With the intention to raise awareness about Manta Ray Research in the Maldives, Coco Collection will be welcoming Manta Trust to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to interact with guests and associates.
The Maldivian Manta Ray Project was established in 2005 by British Marine Biologist and the Manta Trust founder Guy Stevens. Guy started working in the Maldives in 2003 and spent his first 18 months in the country on a dive liveaboard. During this time Guy was seeing Mantas all around the country and his curiosity about these amazing creatures grew.
Desperate to know more about why and where these sea creatures were found Guy looked to other marine biologists in the Maldives and around the world and found a shocking scarcity of information and research being done on these creatures. In 2005 the MMRP was founded and became one of very first Manta research projects around the world and the project of the Manta Trust.
The aims of the Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP) when it was created were to characterise the population of Manta Rays in the Maldives. Not much data is available on the Maldives manta population and little research have been carried out on the life cycle and population dynamics. To achieve the objectives the project has worked closely with the Government of Maldives, tourists, local groups, volunteers, students and tour operators to create greater awareness and protection for the peaceful rays and their habitat.
The resort’s programme:
On 21 June 2014, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu will give a warm welcome to Marine Biologists from Manta Trust that includes Niv Froman, the Project Manager of Manta Trust Maldives, as well as Annie Murray, the Operations Manager of Manta Trust Maldives who will be spending 2 days at the resort, engaging guests in interactive presentations and inviting them to join a spectacular snorkeling excursion in South Baa Atoll, where they hope to encounter some Manta Rays gliding through the deep blue.
The team will start the program with an interactive presentation for the associates of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, to which the resort has invited students of schools from surrounding local islands.
In the evening, the visiting scientists along with Chiara Fumagalli, the resort’s own resident Marine Biologist, will hold an educational presentation for the resort’s guests at Conch Bar focusing on Manta Trust’s work alongside Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu.
It is said that both presentations will focus mainly on the work that Manta Trust has been contributing to the Maldivian Manta Ray Project and offer guests and students also a chance to enrich their knowledge regarding these creatures.
On the morning of 22 June 2014, Coco Collection’s Resident Marine Biologist, Chiara Fumagalli, along with the group from Manta Trust will lead guests and associates on an adventurous snorkeling excursion that will hopefully include the extraordinary opportunity to swim with these mysterious creatures. Afterwards, Chiara will blend with guests at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to share photos of the expedition.
Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is offering a “Stay Longer and Pay Less” deal for guest who wants to experience the Manta Ray expedition where a 5 night’s stay will receive a discount of 25% while a 3 night’s stay will receive a discount of 10% from room rates. Also, guests can book their stay with Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu now to enjoy discounts of up to 7% from room rates.
Chiara Fumagalli, the Resident Marine Biologist at Coco Collection commented “This exciting expedition with the fellow Marine Biologists from Manta Trust is truly an amazing opportunity to experience these marvelous creatures gliding through the ocean. It is my absolute pleasure to welcome guests of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to join us in this snorkeling excursion for a once in a lifetime chance to swim alongside Manta Rays while witnessing their natural behavior in person”.
Findings shows that the Maldives hosts the largest population of reef Manta Rays (Manta alfredi) in the world, however there is no local law that prohibits fishing or harming these increasingly defenseless creatures. In many countries direct fishing of manta rays and their similar species, driven by the huge grown demand of gill plates in Eastern Asia, decimates regional populations. Increased pressures from tourism is also known to have damaging impacts on these species which national legislation can help to control.
Research shows that Manta rays give birth to only one live born pup on average just once every 3-5 years and have one of the longest gestation periods of any creature. Their highly conservative reproductive strategy, combined with a slow growth rate and late maturity makes Manta Rays immensely susceptible to exploitation. Based on these reasons many countries are acting quickly to protect their regional population of Mantas. Like the Maldives, Indonesia, is known to have one of the world’s leading Manta tourism destinations, recently established the largest Manta Ray sanctuary in the world.
Manta rays are an important resource in the Maldives to promote Manta ecotourism. The Maldives has already showed its commitment to marine conservation by protecting all species of sharks and establishing several Marine Protected Areas throughout the archipelago.
The contribution and support of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi has been recently recognized by Manta Trust by ranking Coco Collection as the top submitter of newly identified Manta Ray sightings and the second top submitter of overall Manta Ray sightings for the year 2013. It is known that Coco Collection is thrilled to be a part of such initiatives and during the event hopes to educate guests and associates regarding the population and behavior of Maldivian Manta Rays, also aiding the research objectives of Manta Trust.
A winner of World Luxury Hotel Awards 2013 and a nominee of World Luxury Spa Awards 2014, Coco Collection is a eminent hotel group, also a subsidiary of Sunland Hotels. Since opening the hotel in July 2007, the company continued to grow and developed its reputation as a stylish, sophisticated with sustainable hospitality.
Coco Collection’s comes with three unique brands, Coco Resorts – Retreats, Coco Privé and Coco Palm.
The Retreats includes the luxury resort Coco Bodu Hithi; Coco Palm features the environmentally conscious getaway Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu; and Coco Privé consists: the private and exclusive Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island.