Mar 092016

Channel diving the Maldives

My time on the Carpe Vita has come to an end today, and we’re about to be deposited back on dry land. Apart from a very nice BBQ on a deserted atoll one evening last week it will be the first time since boarding. It will certainly be the first time wearing shoes again. Since the last time I wore shoes we have done a lot of channel diving. The Maldives is a series of atolls with central lagoons. As the tides rise and fall, the water flows in and out of the lagoon through the channel between small sandy islands. When the current is running, animals gather at the interface between the channel and the deep blue sea.

Eagle rays in the Maldives

The outer reef wall here drops down to several thousand meters. This means it’s theoretically possible to see almost anything swimming past. On our trip we were lucky enough to see a scalloped hammerhead shark swimming past for about 20 seconds. The more common sightings were white tip and grey reef sharks, livened up by the occasional eagle ray.

Unlike the bubble-seeking manta rays who swooped overhead as they moved to and from a cleaning station earlier in the trip, eagle rays don’t like bubbles. They dislike divers enough that they have a tendency to disappear into the blue whenever we get too close. The flock of rays in the photo above was unusual…they moved off just far enough to stay out of reach for photos, while still being visible in the clear water. As a result this photo is very wide angle, showing the wildlife all facing into the strong current over the edge of the drop off.

On another dive I was lucky to get a bit closer. The flock of eagle rays hanging in the current as we descended swam out forwards. They make flying upstream look easy and leave us much less hydrodynamic divers in their wake. The second photo here was the last two rays at the back of the group. They came within striking distance of me as they headed off into the blue distance. Eagle rays are beautiful and graceful animals, and most of all I love the smile behind their long flexible noses. To be allowed close enough to get the shot was a great moment. I am so thankful to have been able to gear up with all new cool scuba diving products, it made a huge difference in my comfort.

I booked this trip through Liquid Diving Adventures.

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