With boat managers Eva and Patrick on board, guests were certainly in good hands for another excellent trip through the Atolls. With their guidance and the expert local knowledge provided by dive guide, Rauf, guests were guaranteed the trip of a lifetime.
LANKAN MANTA POINT
It is a very common question and one which our dive team are asked regularly; will we see mantas?! As we all know, the ocean is not a zoo, so it is entirely up to the luck of the draw. However, King Neptune was smiling upon us this morning, and when we reached the cleaning station we found five mantas already there! None of our guests had dived these waters before so needless to say they were suitably impressed. They were hypnotized by the almost ballet-like antics directly in front of them and above their heads as these wonderful creatures sailed in and out of the grooming salon. For those who managed to look away, there were several white tip reef sharks and even a free-swimming moray eel. A hungry turtle was seen plodding his way across the reef in search of breakfast. Out in the blue and further away from the show, a group of large dogtooth tunas were aggressively making hunting forays into the smaller fish who appeared as clouds all over the area. A simple and stunning dive and one that none of our guests will ever forget.
Some guests adore night diving and all its differences to diving when the sun is up and shining. The nocturnal reef creatures, which venture out after dark, are many and varied. Some of our guests were happy to hear that we would be doing a night dive at the world famous Maaya Thila site. It is a truly fabulous dive – possibly even more so at night time when the daytime creatures have packed up and disappeared. Some of the bigger fish were definitely in hunting mode as they sped like bullets across the reef in the hope of catching some of the many present fusiliers, jacks and snappers. The white tip sharks were stealthier in their hunting methods and would silently move over the reef edge and catch their prey unaware. Fluttering past us were stingrays on the move, lionfish in small numbers, whilst the crabs and shrimps were plentiful. The night-time crustaceans were clumsy-looking in their movements but quickly disappeared into their shells or crevices as soon as anything got too close. The light of torches in the dark saw shoals of silversides moving as one, beautifully glimmering in the light – their scales playing in the light. Over another delicious meal prepared by our Sri Lankan chef, Dickson, the chatter over the dinner table was lively and animated.
Another first for some of our guests who had never dived on a wreck before. After a detailed briefing we jumped in and started our exploration of this super spot. We were delighted to find a large nurse shark sleeping under the hull, and also a fat stonefish very well camouflaged but easily spotted by Patrick. As we made our way across the bow of the wreck we found numerous pipefish, a few flamboyantly decorated nudibranchs and many clouds of glassfish. Hanging in the mild current and keeping an eye on us was a school of batfish, residents of the wreck. Guests over dinner declared that the wreck was their best dive of the day.
FIVE ROCKS and BARBARA’S 200th DIVE!
What a fabulous way to celebrate your 200th dive! Barbara was more than happy to dive at this wonderful spot. For those who stayed on the smaller thila at the site, they had plenty of macro life to see. The gorgeously luxuriously-velvet snail was spotted – one of our favourite marine creatures! They are unusual in shape and texture and not really seen too often here, so always a nice surprise to find one. We found a few flatworms and a variety of shrimps going about their daily business in the corals. Some of our divers decided to look for the bigger boys and headed to the larger thila where they were pleased to see sharks, giant trevallies, barracudas, stingrays and plenty of schools of colourful reef fish.
WHALE SHARK! Super spotting by dive guide Rauf who soon had everyone’s attention when he called out that tantalizing phrase – “Whale shark over there!” Everyone was in the water in record fast time and spent a few precious minutes with this amazing creature before other divers joined us. Everyone was happy that they had seen this incredible giant and Rauf was the Hero of the Day!
Just a few minutes of descending into the dark water, a welcome committee of three nurse sharks greeted us; they surprised and delighted the guests when they gently bumped and nudged into them before slowly making their way to the sandy bottom where they rolled over several times. Quite amazing and another new experience for most divers. Guests’ excitement levels were running high after this initial “welcome” and as we made our way to the jetty area they were gobsmacked to see so many sharks of every size swimming lazily around us. Everywhere we looked we saw nurse sharks. Brilliant. Back on board Emperor Voyager some guests declared that this was THE BEST DIVE OF THEIR LIVES! They will be back to join the Emperor Fleet in the very near future.
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