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Underwater adventure fans may want to take note of the recent hiring of marine biologist Joseph Lassus at the Anantara Kihavah Villas resort, located in the Maldives’ southern Baa Atoll.
Joining the staff at the high-end property in June, Lassus now guides guests on snorkeling and diving tours, while also leading a range of dry-land presentations about the resort’s extraordinary natural surroundings, which were designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2011.
“The Maldives offer one of the highest marine biodiversity concentrations in the world,” Lassus told TravelAge West. “Overall, coral reefs in the Maldives are still in really good shape.”
Underwater visibility in the Maldives is particularly excellent from October to May, according to Lassus. Along with Baa Atoll, destinations such as South-Ari Atoll and South Male Atoll provide outstanding snorkeling and diving during that season, he said, particularly for people interested in seeing sharks.
“The Maldives archipelago is also an outstanding place to encounter mega fauna like dolphins, whales and whale sharks,” Lassus added. “And it is recognized as the best place to encounter manta rays, which aggregate here in tremendous numbers like nowhere else in the world.”
Travelers considering a trip to the Maldives may, in fact, want to time their visit to the destination to coincide with the high point of the manta ray season, which begins in early summer and runs into mid-autumn.
“Only a 40-minute boat ride from Anantara Kihavah island, the Hanifaru marine protected area hosts, from June to October, the highest concentration of manta rays you can find in the Maldives, and possibly in the world.” Lassus said. “This really makes it a paradise for snorkelers, who can easily and safely swim among those graceful and magnificent creatures.”
Lassus grew up in the French Caribbean, snorkeling for the first time at age 6 and completing his first scuba dive at age 10. He studied marine biology in France and Mexico and contributed to different research projects in Mexico and the Caribbean before beginning his new work in the Maldives. That work includes coral transplantation programs that involved the participation of guests at the resort.
“What I like most about my job is sharing my passion for the marine environment with people, and allowing them to enjoy its wonders in the way they feel most comfortable, whether that’s watching dolphins from a boat, being in the water snorkeling or scuba diving on the reef,” Lassus said.