Diving with the Maldives’ manta rays

The rays are great black silhouettes, scything streamlined shapes that fishermen called “devil fish” because of the curious horn-like fins hanging down near their mouths, writes Tim Ecott in UK newspaper The Telegraph.

“But side on and up close you can look into their eyes and get a sense of their peaceful nature. Unlike stingrays, mantas don’t have venomous spines in their tails, and unlike many fish species they seem to enjoy human company. They tolerate our presence and sometimes perform loop-the-loops through the air bubbles exhaled from my scuba gear.

I have come to Hanifaru, a small lagoon next to an uninhabited island in the Maldives, especially to see manta rays. These great harmless filter-feeders congregate here during the south-west monsoon between May and November and, if the tides and winds are right, enter a shallow cul-de-sac in the reef to hunt for food. On certain days, usually near to the full moon, the bay can attract more than 100 mantas.

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