Day 5 – Maldives diving holiday 2014
MANTAS!!!! Finally, what we came here for. On the way to our first dive site the dive boat took a quick detour via an old cleaning station. There had been a rumour by one of the locals that they were starting to return. Dave our guide popped his fins, mask & snorkel on and leaped over the site. Expecting the usual disappointment we hung around waiting to see if we had a thumbs up or down. Yay, he gave the sign that there was a manta just below us. We all leaped in like little lemmings with our snorkel gear. For 10 minutes we sped around the surface playing catch the manta with various degrees of success. Lee was nearly on the oxygen he was so knackered.
We the headed for our first dive with a spring in our kicks. Another medium paced drift with a few white tip sharks, a turtle, a tiny pipe fish, morays, large schools of banner fish and Melvin was over the moon that he spotted a couple of porcelain crabs.
Return back to the mothership on our Dhoni we thought we’d try the cleaning station one more time. This time there were two mantas and they were hanging around. We all grabbed our snorkel gear again and made for the pinnacle. I still had some air left from my previous dive so the crew kindly threw my kit in the water. I made my way down there to watch the mantas circling around me. It wasn’t long before I was joined by Jess and Nat who were now getting ‘an air display’ by a third manta that had joined the group. I was only slightly saddened hat I’d lift my underwater camera on the boat.
After some breakfast and a quick air fill to 50 bar we headed back to the cleaning station for a 3rd time. We all descended this time and had about 2 minutes with a manta before she decided to head off in to the blue.
Once back on the mothership we headed,up to the sun deck while crew unattached us for our moorings to commence our journey back to the North Male Atoll. Embudhoo was our 2nd ‘proper’ dive of the day. A long reef wall that saw most of us reach 60 minutes+ underwater. This was probably the prettiest dive site of the week, with lots of hard and soft corals. All the usual suspects were present plus a congregation of lobsters that would have looked good on my Weber. Simon, Ian and John continued to look like the ‘Scuba Paparazzi, taking multiple photos of virtually everything that move on the reefs – I didn’t know you get get 1000gb memory cards yet. The best part of the dive for me was when Lee carefully removed one of Johns fins while he was attempting to do a hover. The fin then got passed around until Jess hid it behind her BCD. On realising his fin was missing John entered full panic mode which caused the rest of us to form a giant jacuzzi of laughter bubbles. I think hat classifies as a beer fine.
After a bit of lunch and r&r on the sun deck we went for our final dive of the day at H.P. Reef on he North Male Atoll. We made a quick descent due to the strong currents and made our way down to the Thila. With a strong current whipping around us we hid amongst the over-hangs and pinnacles. Viz was poorer than other sites we’ve been on but still nothing like Wraysbury on a Saturday afternoon. There were some really pretty pink, purple and white soft corals hanging down from the overhangs. Trey decided to lose his ability to dive and went in to full ramming speed in to the other divers, or kick them in the mask or landing on top of them. A school of bat fish hung out on top of the thila and we saw a couple of huge napoleon wrasse, a white tip shark and a large green turtle taking a rest on the floor. The usual antics between me, trey and Melvin were saved for our safety stop – pistols at dawn, a light-caber fight with torches and wafting the bottom of one of the wetsuit legs. On return to the boat Trey was given the nickname El Torro (the bull) as he is the underwater equivalent of a bull in a china shop.