The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, located in Baa Atoll, the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives, offers guests the chance to get up-close-and-personal with manta rays at one of the world’s largest natural manta feeding destinations. Guests have the rare opportunity to snorkel with the gentle giants at the protected site of Hanifaru Bay just 18 kilometers from the resort.
The Maldives is home to the largest population of studied Manta Rays, with over 4,900 individuals identified, which also includes the endangered Oceanic Manta Ray. Among these, 1800 have been recorded at Hanifaru bay. This year’s Manta season officially started on May 6, 2022 and is expected to continue until early November. “During peak season, more than 100 Mantas can be seen feeding at the bay and one may also see Whale Sharks, especially during full moon.” said the resort’s resident Marine Biologist, Filipa Lopes.
With wingspans up to seven meter, speeds up to 24 kilometers per hour, and cognitive function at par with dolphins, manta rays are indeed one of the most majestic creatures in the ocean. Classed as vulnerable, the Maldivian government added all ray species to the list of protected species, which also strengthens the countries reputation as a leader in marine conservation and promotes the valuable, sustainable tourism based around manta populations. By connecting people to mantas, the mantas’ chances of survival will increase.
Filipa adds to warn, “Climate change can impact these gentle giants’ food source – as it is predicted that the rise in sea temperature will result in decline in zooplankton populations – and a scarcity of food can affect their reproductive ecology, declining manta ray population numbers. Luckily, Maldivian Manta population is one of the best studied in the world and is considered stable ate the moment.
The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve is known for its rich marine biodiversity and stunning coral reef, which guarantee guests a wide variety of colorful reef fish in every snorkeling experience such as Batfish, Fusiliers and Anemone Fish to name just a few. Dolphins can be spotted regularly from the island, and guests can get a closer view particularly during the sunset dolphin cruise excursions offered regularly by the resort.
For those looking to enhance their underwater life knowledge, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort also conducts a weekly Marine Biology presentation, where anyone interested can learn more about the rich marine life around the resort and ask their questions to its passionate resident Marine Biologist, Filipa Lopes.
Guests can also choose from various other exciting watersport activities and excursions on this idyllic island, ranging from Jet Ski rides, to snorkeling with turtles and traditional sunset fishing.
For this season, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort has recently launched a special package for diving enthusiasts or anyone who wants a first on-hand experience with the marine world. This exclusive #PlayWell with Manta Rays offer includes an opportunity to swim with manta rays at Hanifaru Bay, a turtle snorkel trip, as well as two scuba diving sessions one in the house reef and one in open water.