North European tourists are traveling to Santa Maria to dive with mantas, which can be found in unusual quantities in waters around the island.
According to Artur Silva, underwater photographer and nautical activities entrepreneur, Santa Maria is the “best place in Europe to dive,” referring that the concentration of different types of mantas in the island is “exceptional in the World.”
On summer 2014, Silva will open a four-star hotel in the Santa Maria to support diving. The photographer explains that this type of fish moves in shoal and appears in the island due to warm ocean currents and migrations.
Diving with mantas is, according to Silva, a “very different type of experience” and the business man wants to attract travelers from the US and Canada – nowadays he points out Germans, Dutch and British are potential consumers of diving as a touristic product.
Paulo Reis, from Paralelo 37 Diving Center, is considered one a pioneer in diving with mantas in Santa Maria. According to Reis, this activity started 10 years ago because one operator placed a buoy that began to serve as a reference to mantas while looking for seamounts to find nutrients. Since then, the number of mantas in the island started to grow.
The pioneer highlights that the number of people who wants to dive with this “fantastic animals” is increasing and that this year the number of foreign people is going to exceed the nationals. The Spanish, Germans and Austrians are the main nationalities that are diving in Santa Maria.
Reis also explains that mantas are about 9.8 ft. and sometimes they get less than 3.9 inches from the diver. “They are extremely photogenic. We go to South Africa to see the elephants and to the Azores to see Mantas and blue sharks.”
For some it´s the adrenaline rush of the exploring the deep waters, for others it´s the beauty of the reef and the marine life that inhabits it. There are many reasons to scuba dive but most would agree that they dive for the pure enjoyment of experiencing the underwater world, so different from ours and truly amazing. Read more about the benefits of diving here.