Emperor Serenity has now settled into life extremely well as the new flagship of Emperor Maldives. Her experienced crew has her in ship-shape fashion and, with the combined experience and knowledge of the dive team, makes sure guests enjoy both luxury and incredible diving. The dive team this week were Maldivians, Issey and Maseeh, joined by Stina and Craig.
What a way to start another week – MANTAS! We enjoyed a gentle drift along the reef to the cleaning station where we could see two of these beauties already midway through being cleaned by busy wrasses. Both of the mantas were clearly enjoying the attentions although every now and again it was obvious when tiny teeth nibbled too hard…and the mantas would shudder slightly. We settled into ringside sandy seats with our reef hooks dug in and watched the show…and then another three mantas appeared from behind us. This was brilliant – to watch five mantas as they glided effortlessly through the current, looping and swirling, pirouetting and rolling so close to our heads; awesome. Also super to see was the large hawksbill turtle eating coral and then testing out someone’s reef hook to see if it was worth eating!
Today we had some very fishy dives but it was mainly a shark day. On each of our three dives we enjoyed watching the large grey reef sharks patrol back and forth in the blue waters, whilst the black and white tips generally stayed at a safe distance behind them, hoping to pick up some dropped fishy morsels. At Miyaru Kandu we enjoyed a kaleidoscopic vista of schooling fish filling the watery sky. Everywhere we turned our heads we could see fish, fish and more fish. Several beautiful eagle rays flew quickly past at one stage adding to the sheer variety. It was great to see two large Napoleon wrasse as they bumbled along the reef in their own inimitable fashion. Oriental sweetlips in their dozens were spotted, their yellow, black and white colouring amplified in the sunshine which filtered through from above. Octopus, red tooth triggers, jack trevallies, scorpionfish, bannerfish and several giant dogtooth tunas were some of the highlights. But best of all today was the WHALE SHARK spotted briefly at Lux Beyru before he swiftly descended in to the murky dark depths.
Not a site we dive too often but Issey suggested we jump in here this morning as, when the conditions are perfect, this is one of the most fishy dive sites, but not a lot of people know that! He was right – the conditions were almost perfect with just a sniff of a current and lovely visibility. Away from the reef we saw three types of sharks; greys, black tips and white tip reef sharks, all of which stayed out in the clear blue water watching us, watching them. The water was teeming with all manners of fish – snappers, Moorish idols, red tooth triggers, batfish, jacks; all of which were busy hunting, cleaning and generally doing what fish do! On the reef itself we found a few gloriously decorated nudibranchs, two very well camouflaged scorpionfish and zillions of tiny colourful reef fish darting in and out of the hard corals. Issey was right – a super fishy dive!
KUDA RAH THILA
Swimming around Kuda Rah this morning was an absolute joy! It’s a brilliant dive site at the best of times but this morning it seemed more amazing than usual. We were the only boat so revelled in having this to ourselves, although the volume of fish tended to push us out a bit! As we ascended into the shallows, after having spent some time exploring the lower edges of the thila, we saw the garden of soft anemones, all open and full of anemone fish guarding their territories with a passion. In the shallower water the light intensity increased almost exaggerating the full beauty of this superb site. Giant trevallies circled the thila looking out for lunch, whilst dogtooth tunas stayed back waiting for the menu to come to them. A couple of sharks were seen as they swam swiftly by, whilst the turtles munched on the top of the reef oblivious to us and our bubbles. Most of our guests ended their dive by the shallow coral block a short distance away from the thila where the tiny fishes were congregating; a lovely place to finish before drifting out into the blue and finally surfacing amidst the clouds of fusiliers.
The thunderous skies of the last week had cleared finally and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The sun was shining most days and this evening’s sunset was as if the horizon was on fire. It was BBQ time! We all loved eating under the stars with sand between our toes and the chatter over dinner was animated and full of laughter. As we departed this small sandbank and made our way back to the luxury of Emperor Serenity, talk dropped to nothing as we all gazed upwards to the most perfect of night time skies – the backdrop was a sheer velvety black scattered with bright stars. It could not have been a more perfect ending to a wonderfully social evening; until we got back to the boat and within minutes a magnificent SAILFISH appeared hunting in the bright light!
It is amazing how quickly a week flies by. We enjoyed some incredible diving and, with Craig’s knowledge of marine biology, learnt some new stuff about the underwater world. Lead by Stina and her calm nature and ready smile we sailed through the Maldivian atolls, whilst Maseeh and his quirky humour headed up the daily entertainment on board the dhoni going to and from the dive sites. Another brilliant trip on board Emperor Serenity.
Our thanks to Chapur Risley for these fantastic photos taken whilst on Serenity. See more of the photos here.