Giant oceanic manta ray saved from nets in Maldives
A video taken by Swiss holiday-makers at a dive site near Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives reveals a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence when they witnessed a Giant Oceanic Manta-Ray being cut free from ghost nets by their dive instructor and the resort’s General Manager who was taking a leisure dive with the guests.
Estimated to be 4m in size the Giant Oceanic Manta-Ray approached the divers as they were about to take their safety stop at 15 metres following a deep dive, as if asking for help.
A keen and frequent diver, Mark Eletr, General Manager, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, said the experience brought him to tears when they eventually resurfaced after the experience, “It is quite possibly the most extraordinary diving experience I will ever have.”
Mark who is a Rescue Diver and has completed more than 300 dives, explained the phenomenal interaction, “…one of the most majestic creatures came to us for help. Towards the end of our dive we were approached by an Oceanic Manta approximately 4 metres in size. As it got closer I knew something was wrong and we could see the net trailing and wrapped around its head.” he explains.
“It came quite close and was obviously looking for help. It slowed to the point where I could swim up and grab the net from behind hoping that it would pull free, but that wasn’t to be the case.”
Mark explains that despite its enormous power and the feeling of him pulling on the net, the gigantic ray decided to turn and stay with the group of divers rather than pulling him down to the depths which would have been quite risky.
“Our dive instructor, Tomoyo, who is barely five feet tall seized an opportunity to get up close and cut it free. What an incredibly brave thing to do. Tomoyo got the rescue done as the rest of us stayed our distance and managed to capture it on video,” he says.
Three guests who were on the dive witnessed this incredible experience which will undoubtedly be a story that is recounted around dinner tables for years to come.
“Scuba Diving is always an adventure into an environment that we will never control or dominate,” says Mark.
“What we saw in this experience is that careless human acts like discarding or leaving nets adrift, can definitely harm marine life and this beautiful and fragile environment.”
Mark thanked the guests Xenia S and Reto Z for the incredible raw video which documents the rescue. “People just wouldn’t believe it, if they didn’t see it.” says Mark.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the net that trapped the Giant Manta-Ray near Kandooma Fushi is known as a Ghost net. Simply, it’s a fishing net that has been lost or abandoned in the ocean that poses a real threat to marine life. According to the WWF, just because a net is no longer used by fishers doesn’t mean it stops working. These nets continue to trap everything in their path, presenting a major problem for the health of our oceans and marine life. Nets keep animals from moving freely, cause injury and prevent surfacing. The ghost nets are also known to harm coral reefs, breaking precious corals and blocking sunlight.
“Fortunately for us at Kandooma, it’s the exception rather than the rule to see discarded nets, we are very lucky to have such beautiful clean waters, but I think what we have experienced is a timely reminder that it is our responsibility to people and planet, to care for these fragile environments,” adds Mark.
Ghost nets like the one cut away from the Giant Manta-Ray near Kandooma Fushi are a major contributor to the ocean plastics crisis. According to a 2018 study in Scientific Reports, ghost nets make up at least 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Abandoned fishing line and nets never go away.
Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma is on the doorstep to some of the Maldives Top Ten Dive Sites and the wellbeing of the ocean and all the creatures within it, is important to guests and hotel staff alike. The resort aligns its efforts with IHG’s purpose True Hospitality for Good, through their sustainability programme ‘Journey to Tomorrow’ which is the hotel group’s response to helping achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Located in the South Male atoll just 40 mins from the airport by boat, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives is a beautiful island paradise. White sandy beaches, swaying coconut palms and turquoise waters form the backdrop for various leisure pursuits and some of the best diving in the Maldives. Guests can choose from Garden and Beach Villas, two-storey Beach Houses and the popular Overwater Villas. Families are well catered for with a choice of 2- and 3-bed villas, the Kandoo Kids’ Club, and its complete activities programme. Six food and beverage outlets ensure healthy appetites are satisfied and the flavours of the Maldives are explored. For guests who desire the ultimate relaxation, sun loungers and hammocks are located around the island. The Kandooma Spa by COMO Shambhala offers the ultimate tranquillity and escape for body and mind.