MV Orion Trip Report – 30th July to 6th August 2012
MV Orion got the new season off to a good start with 22 lovely guests from around the world. It was an eclectic mix of British, Taiwanese, French, Dutch, Swiss, Russian and American guests, with everyone getting on well, sharing stories and experiences from around the globe.
New: four languages on board Orion
Orion also welcomed Heiko as a new Instructor onboard. Heiko has just completed 2 years on Monsoon in the Northern Atolls of the Maldives, and is looking forward to tucking into the diving in the Central and Southern Atolls with us onboard Orion. With the addition of Heiko, Orion now offers German, Italian (Enrico), and Russian(Ksenia) Languages, however English is still the main language spoken onboard.
Nassimo Thila is a real treat for photographers
Day 1 saw us trying our luck at Lankan Manta Point for the check dive, unfortunately the Mantas alluded us this time, however the dive was still very pleasant for a first dive of the trip. Dive 2 was at the beautiful Nassimo Thila, with its gorgeous soft coral boulders and overhangs, teeming with Fusiliers being chased by the Giant Trevally which were out in numbers. We also had a very friendly turtle and a few big schools of Yellow Blue-lined Snapper, Nassimo Thila is a real treat for photographers. The final dive of the day took us to Finger Point on the North Western side of North Male Atoll. Finger point is a Pinnacle that stretches out from the main reef of the channel wall, and is a Marine Protected Area. With it being the South West Monsoon, the current predominantly comes into the Atoll from the west, which brings in clean water from the Indian Ocean for dive sites on the Western sides of Atolls. This meant that this dive had nice clear water, and we saw an Eagle Ray, a Feather-tail Ray, 6 White Tip Reef Sharks and copious amounts of fish.
Crossing over to Baa atoll on day two
We then crossed over night to Hanifaru in Baa Atoll. The 1st dive of the 2nd diving day was at Dhonfanu Thila, which produced a real treat with 2 Dolphins swimming around us at the end of the dive. This was just the icing on the cake on an already very pleasant dive, full of Fusiliers being chased by big Dogtooth Tuna, and Giant Trevally. The 2nd Dive was at Dharavandhoo Thila, which again provided massive volumes of fish, but the main highlight would have been the giant Black-blotched Ray, that followed the group around for the final 20mins of the dive. Both Dhonfanu and Dharavandhoo are potential Manta cleaning stations, however they did produce any Mantas that day so for the third dive we decided to go outside Hanifaru’s Reef and hunt for Mantas and Whalesharks, as it’s common to find them feeding there. Unfortunately we didn’t have any luck so we carried on to Kihaad Thila and did a very pretty dive there, with its magnificent soft coral and tasty looking Lobster.
Thilas and reefs in Baa Atoll
Day 3 started off with Dhigu Thila, Dhigu in Dhivehi means long and thin, and that is exactly what this Pinnacle is. Dhigu Thila is well known for its overhangs, and plentiful Gorgonian Sea Fan, and is also a potential Manta Cleaning Station. This time only Alex’s group were lucky enough to see a Manta in passing, a majestic sight, as ever. For the 2nd dive we moved to next to Soneva Fushi Island Resort for Nelivaru Thila, and on this dive, Enrico and Heiko’s group saw 2 Mantas cleaning, and Alex’s group saw a very nice Guitar Shark up close resting on the sandy bottom. We repeated Nelivaru Thila for the 3rd dive of the day, in the hope of seeing more Mantas, but to no avail.
On Day 4 we started with Dhengali Haa Thila near by Royal Island Resort, and it was a beauty, full of Fusiliers, Giant Trevally, Turtles, Porcelain Shrimp, and heaps of Anemone’s with their cute little Clown Fish and some tricky to photograph little crabs inside them.
Seven hours crossing from Baa to Rasdoo Atoll
On the night of the 4th day of diving we began the 7hr crossing from Baa to Rasdoo Atoll. We did 2 very rewarding dives on Rasdhoo Madivaru reef with Eagle Rays the entire 2nd dive, and at one point 12 together. There were also Grey Reef Sharks, a big school of Jacks, Big Dogtooth Tuna, Napoleon Wrasse and White Tip Reef Sharks resting in the sand. For the 3rd dive of the day we went to Alex’s favourite dive site in Ari Atoll, Hafsa Thila. In the briefing Alex promised Grey Reef Sharks, circling, and baby White Tip Reef Sharks resting on the top of the Pinnacle under the table coral, as well as so many fish he described it as fish soup. And it didnt fail to delived, there were 5 Grey Reef Sharks on the top reef, lots of White Tips resting, and a school of at least 8 massive Dogtooth Tuna patrolling the reef intimidating the he Jacks, Fusiliers, Blue-lined Snapper and any other fish that got in their way.
Maaya Thila: A great 73min night dive from which no one wanted to come up
But all that was just a warm up for the night dive on Maaya Thila, which produced a constant supply of White Tip Reef Sharks, and Grey Reef Sharks, Moray Eels, Red Snapper and a very friendly but large Black-blotched Ray that were all using our dive lights to hunt on the poor Fusiliers who were trying to hide from our light beams. At the end Enrico also found 3 Stonefish all snuggled up on top of each other in a small crack in the reef. A great 73min night dive from which no one wanted to come up.
Although the Mantas were not in as large a supply as we had hoped the trip was a great success, and all clients left with big smiles after a good week of diving. It must also be noted that the weather was incredible, not a drop of rain all week, and the sea was as flat as a Pancake. In fact it has not rained for over a month in Maldives, which is very rare considering its supposed to be Monsoon.
Until next time, Happy Diving
MV Orion Team
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