Imagine the feeling of indulging in a spa day, the ultimate self-care experience. Well, guess what? Mantas are no strangers to the allure of relaxation either! Prepare to witness nature’s very own pampering session, and it’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss.
Welcome to the Manta Ray Spa, a haven for mantas, just 200 meters northwest of Veligandu – accessible via a quick 3-minute boat ride. Locally known as ‘Madi Gaa’ (Dhivehi for Ray Rock), this underwater oasis sits at a depth of 10-13 meters below the surface.
The area is a solitary boulder star coral block, rising about 2 meters from the seabed. It’s surrounded by sandy stretches and scattered coral patches, creating the perfect stage for a fascinating performance by the Mantas.
Picture this: majestic mantas gracefully circling above the coral block while tiny wrasses and parasitic copepods meticulously remove parasites, dead skin, and infected tissues from the mantas’ skin, gills, and teeth in a cleaning symbiosis. It’s a choreographed ballet of health and well-being, with the cleaners feasting on their hard-earned rewards.
You can spot mantas year-round around Veligandu House Reef, neighbouring reefs, and lagoons. However, the best time to catch this symbiotic show is from December to April during the Northwest Monsoon Season when zooplankton congregates in the Rasdu atoll’s western part, attracting scores of hungry mantas. These gentle giants filter-feed on zooplankton and krill, consuming massive quantities to sustain their colossal size.
Snorkelers can float gracefully beside the coral block at Madi Gaa, while adept free divers can venture deeper for a closer look. Scuba divers must stay low on the sandy bottom, keeping a safe distance of 3-5 meters from the coral block’s outer edge to avoid damaging the reef or startling any hidden Flounder fish.
Meet the elusive Leopard Flounder, locally known as “Velimadi” in Dhivehi. These unique creatures sport both eyes on one side and camouflage themselves beneath a thin layer of sand. With pigmented scales for disguise, they’re ambush predators that strike with stealth. Keep your eyes peeled for them but remember, no touching!
Unlike turtles, mantas are perpetual swimmers, incapable of stopping or reversing. Respect their path by approaching from the side and maintaining a minimum 3-meter distance. If they come your way, drift low or move aside, allowing these graceful giants to glide past.
Mantas are so tempting to touch due to their sheer beauty but resist the urge. Their delicate mucus layer is essential for their well-being, and your touch could harm it. So, let nature’s marvels mesmerize you by taking the Manta excursion on your next visit to Veligandu and allow these captivating sights to fill your eyes and heart with pure wonder.
The island will reopen on November 1, 2024. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for future reservations.
When the resort reopens, guests can directly access the house reef to see turtles from their villa or islands beach by taking an excursion with Veligandu or with the Veligandu dive centre.