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From the book "Straight to the South", part 2 "Shark archipelago", episode 15.

16.03.2018 0°36'37.10"S 73° 9'11.80"E

We stand in Addu atoll, the southernmost in the Maldives. There is only open ocean to the South from it to 7500 km to Antarctica. Tomorrow early morning we'll depature to Male and the safari ends.

Today, we can do only one morning dive, we need a time to completely dissolve nitrogen in the blood gained at a depth and not boiled it accidentally in a plane - its bubbles in the veins are deadly. And preferably for us do not dive deep down. And in this case there is an option – diving inside the atoll near a small coral, where giant stingrays - manta rays - come to. Of course, they can come or not, but we were lucky – there were several of them who spun around the underwater bank. The depth here is small, 15 meters, just what we need.

All kinds of fish, including stingrays, bear unwanted companions, and there are special places in the ocean where you can get rid of them – the so-called 'cleaning stations', where different types of cleaner fish arrange a feast, destroying parasites and dead skin tissues of their larger cousins, a kind of beauty saloon, which mantarays like to visit. And it is not clear who comes first – the cleaners or the customers, the process is usefull for both of them: someone gets food, someone gets recovery.

Most people in childhood dreamed of having wings, people who have seen at least once the beauty of the underwater world dreamed of having gills, and these amazing creatures have both. Unlike sharks, their closest cartilaginous relatives, the manta rays are not predators. They feed almost exclusively on plankton, with the exception of some small fish and krill.

Manta rays often fed at the surface, raking zooplankton and sending it into its mouth with special fins located on his head, turning them into a ladle. In its original straightened position these fins remind devilish horns.

Because their size and power they are dangerous, since ancient times they tore fishing nets and dragged the boat far into the sea, breaking it there. They possibly can trample a diver inadvertently into the abyss.. They say about the case when manta pulled into his mouth fluttering hair of beautiful girl-diver, and colleagues immediately had to cut her hair with knives – we not know whether to believe it or not.. :) Just in case, we keep some distance. Also do not scare them and distract them from the important recreational activities.



Hour under water passes imperceptibly, then we go up onboard, it is necessary to rinse off the salt and dry equipment, pack bags, say goodbye and exchange addresses.. As always, it is a little sad.. This ocean voyage is over, another places are waiting for us..

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