Father-daughter duo dives in the darkness of night with majestic Manta Rays

Bhubaneswar: Dubai-based Odia father-daughter and advanced scuba diving duo Priyadarshee Panigrahi and his 13-year-old daughter Tisya have come up with another memorable moment. They dived in the darkness of night with majestic Manta Rays.

Priyadarshee and Tisya dived into the house reef of Sun Siyam Olhuveli resort in Maldives in the darkness of the night and dived with the majestic Reef Manta Rays earlier this month.

Scuba diving visuals normally evoke awe and amazement. People are intrigued by the mysteries and beauty of the underwater world when they see these visuals and admire the tenacity and courage of scuba divers.

However, scuba diving in the darkness of the night is something that most people cannot imagine. Diving in the sea enveloped by darkness all around, evokes a perception of danger. Fear of the unknown or the potential presence of nocturnal marine life enhances this perception of danger.

Sun Siyam Olhuveli resort is world famous for diving with Reef Manta Rays. The Reef Manta Rays come near the resort’s reefs in the night and feed on plankton.

Reef manta rays are huge fishes with a wingspan that can reach 16 to 18 feet. These majestic fish appear like they are flying under the water and are known for their acrobatic behavior, often seen leaping or somersaulting out of the water.

Reef manta rays are also filter feeders, primarily consuming plankton and small fish. They use their fins, located on either side of their mouths, to funnel food into their mouths.

Tisya said that this was one of the best dives of her life. She said ‘Diving with such gentle giants was a unique and magical experience. It was my first dive in the night and diving in the darkness with torches in our hands was certainly very a different, exhilarating, and adventurous outing’.

According to Priyadarshee, Manta Rays swimming in the sea were so graceful that the only line that could describe the scene was ‘poetry in motion’. He said that it was a thrilling dive and one can’t help but thank Mother Nature for creating such magnificent creatures like Manta Rays which are certainly very uniquely crafted and extremely graceful.

The dive was made possible because of the deft guidance and instructions given by Sun Siyam Diving’s Dive Instructor & Maldivian national Athau Rasheed. Athau accompanied both father and daughter in this night dive. Special instructions are needed for night diving and Athau gave a detailed briefing before the dive.

Athau said, “Tisya is a pretty good diver and has learned a lot since she started diving about 3 years ago.” According to Athau, diving with Manta Rays in Sun Siyam Olhuveli is very good and people from all over the world come to dive with these beautiful creatures.

Recently this diving duo was in the news because of their unique underwater message on the occasion of COP 28, the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference which was held in Dubai on Nov-Dec 23.

Tisya became Odisha’s youngest scuba diver in 2020 (at the age of 10). Since then, she has also become the state’s youngest junior advanced scuba diver in 2022 when she dived 70 feet on her 12th Birthday.

The father-daughter diving duo have been in the news for various reasons like sending out Nuakhai wishes from under the sea in Aug’21 and diving with sharks in December last year. Earlier in April ’23, inspired by Tisya, Priyadarshee dived 100 feet in Malaysia to secure his advanced scuba diving license, joining a very exclusive club of advanced scuba diving father-daughter duos.

Tisya happens to be the granddaughter of former Minister and Member of Parliament from Odisha, Late Sriballav Panigrahi, and educationist Late Sunanda Panigrahi. She also happens to be the granddaughter of former MLA of Sambalpur, Dr. Raseswari Panigrahi.

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