THIS HAS TO BE one of the most breathtaking night dives in the Maldives. Why? Because you are going to be in the middle of a manta ray show!
This happens in a lagoon in North Ari Atoll known as Fesdu Lagoon almost every night. Liveaboards anchor here to spend the night in the sheltered lagoon. When they switch on the powerful lights on the back of the boat, plankton and tiny shrimps are attracted to the light, which then brings the mantas.
It’s a shallow and easy dive; 10 metres and it’s a sandy bottom. I sometimes tie all the underwater lights together and take them to the bottom. Kept pointing upwards, they create a plankton ball, as the lights from the boat above and the underwater lights from below act as an invisible mould.
Mantas normally start coming in right after the sun sets. You can spot them swimming just off of the boat at first. After one or two nights, the number increases to sometimes eight or 10 all at once.
I usually jump in an hour after sunset, descend to the sandy bottom, kneel down and wait for the mantas to show up. I don’t have to wait long. They come in fast! With their mouths wide open and swooping in through the plankton ball, they always perform an awesome show every night, boasting their acrobatic skills. I have lingered beneath, mesmerised by them, often for more than an hour.