Environment

Manta Conservation in Baa Atoll

Manta free diving
Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll is uniquely shaped so that plankton concentrates inside it during the Maldivian Southwest monsoon season, attracting the greatest aggregations of feeding reef mantas of any single location in the world.

Because of this notorious phenomenon tourists travel from across the globe to swim with mantas at this site. Luckily Hanifaru Bay was declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2009, placing restrictions on the number of tourists allowed inside, the length of time spent in the bay, boat mooring, and banning scuba diving and fishing. The whole of Baa Atoll is also a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve with alternative livelihood opportunities provided for a handful of Reserve Rangers.

Whilst there are rules stating that a maximum of 5 boats and 80 tourists are allowed in the bay at one time, some days we have counted up to 11 boats! Enforcement of MPA & UNESCO regulations hasn’t yet been perfected here but Hanifaru Bay is a great example of how locally managed conservation can be mutually beneficial for fishermen, tourism operators and scientists.

On the day I took this photo we were the only boat in Hanifaru and the bay was absolutely stuffed with plankton — just the 4 of us with 40 feeding mantas — so magical!

Full details are available at the link below:

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Source URL: Medium

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