This week Orion welcomed a group of 23 Singaporeans who were all onboard to celebrate Singapore’s Birthday on the 9th of August. Due to the lack of manta action the previous week in Baa atoll, the group elected to go to Ari, as Alex promised them Whalesharks and Grey Reef Sharks, and famous Maaya Thila night dive.
Dive Day 1, saw the check dive at Kurumba Faru, with a gentle drift, which invited to the reef a couple of Black Tip Reef Sharks, and an interesting highlight of a Titan Trigger eating an Octopus, which proceeded to squirt ink everywhere, this then attracted a further three black tips which started chasing the Trigger away and then returning to devour the remains of the octopus. The 2nd dive was at Lankan Manta Point but sadly without mantas, however two turtles, a big napoleon, and a dogtooth tuna entertained the crowd. For the third dive the group went to a favourite of the dive guides, Nassimo Thila. There was a small incoming current, which attracted a Napoleon family of four, a big grey reef shark (Mario), a turtle on topreef, three big tunas hunting fusiliers, masses of giant trevally, big schools of longfin bannerfish, red snapper, midnight snapper, fusiliers all over the place, to sum it up, a great dive!
That night Orion crossed to Ari Atoll, where we had the first dive at Omadhoo Thila, with beautiful blue water, a nice drift, a grey reef shark, two white tip reef sharks, a big napoleon, and two turtles. The 2nd dive was at Kudarah Thila, with two napoleons, two turtles, masses of fusiliers and blue lined snapper, octopus, a couple of nice nudibranch, and a timid mantis shrimp. Machchafushi’s House-reef played host for the 3rd dive of the day at Kudhi Maa Wreck, where the group were enthralled by three huge stonefish, and a very cute black leaf-fish.
Dive day 3, began with a nice dive at Five Rocks, where a couple of barracudas, a napoleon, a turtle, a few colourful nudibranch welcomed the group for the start of Singapore’s National Day. After breakfast the crew managed to find a 6m Whaleshark and everyone got ready to snorkel. After jumping in the Whaleshark hung around with the group for upto 30mins before wading off on its merry way. While snorkelling with the whaleshark we bumped into Lorenzo, Nadia and Luca from the previous weeks trip, who were also having a whale of a time
After a short water break everyone was ready for the 2nd dive of the day at Maamigili Beyru. By luck the group dropped in onto the path of another whale shark, which they saw again in the middle and at the end of the dive, or was it 3 different Whalesharks? Who can be sure? The final dive of the day was at the magnificent Radhdhiggaa Thila where a group of grey reefs and white tips circled the team for a few minutes, before 3 huge dogtooth tunas heated up the action and got all the fish swimming wild. Towards the end of the dive wasthe beautiful soft coral overhangs, and the top reef full of healthy Tabletop Coral and three turtles, what a great dive site! While the group were off diving, the crew were hard at work setting up base on Rahdhigga Island for the BBQ dinner complete with Sand castle Whaleshark to remind them of the great sightings earlier in the day. Beautiful to finish the day under the stars in good company.
Dive day 4 openned the way to the famous “Panettone” with its grey reef sharks, a big napoleon, an eagle ray, and a few white tip reef sharks on the reef-top. Dive 2 was at “Fish Head”, with a lonely grey reef shark, a white tip reef shark, 2 turtles, 3 mantis shrimp, and masses of fish, including blue fin jacks & giant trevally chasing fusiliers, making for some entertaining action. The 3rd dive was the world famous Maaya Thila night dive, and as usual it didnt fail to impress and leave people awestruck. The 3 stonefish that enrico found the previous week were still there, and while pointing them out, a stingray swam straight between Heiko and the reef! Add to this the resident white tip reef sharks and the odd grey reef sharks all hunting with the divers lights, and it made for the usual spectacle that brings people back time after time.
A big old Barracuda at Maya Thila
The morning dive on dive day 5 took the group to Hafsa Thila, where there was one grey reef shark and one white tip reef shark on the top reef getting cleaned, while in the deeper section at one point four grey reef sharks were circling around a white tip reef shark. There must have been at least 10 dog-tooth tunas hunting fusiliers, amazing action, and to finish it off the usual baby white tips under the table coral on the reef top snuggled up to each other. After lunch Orion cruised to Rasdhoo, for a dive on Rasdhoo Madivaru, where they saw a big grey reef shark, a couple of white tip reef sharks swimming and resting, a huge napoleon, an eagle ray (Enrico), and what Heiko described as “probably biggest dogtooth tuna I have ever seen, a monster!”
The final diving day started with the early morning blue dive in Rasdhoo in the hunt for Hammerheads. Unfortunately no Hammerheads today, but still a beautiful dive to wake oneself up.
Dive 2 took the group back to Lankan Manta Point, where they were entertained for an entire hour dive by 2 Mantas getting cleaned by tiny wrasse on the cleaning station! What a gorgeous sight for all to behold.
To finish the trip Banana Reef provided a gentle, colourful dive full of fish and good healthy coral.
Until next time, Dive Safe!!
MV Orion Team
Alex, Ksenia, Mario, Heiko, Enrico and the crew!
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