Eyes On The Reef – the hidden habits of Maldivian manta rays

03 Jun 2018

Using remote cameras on cleaning stations to uncover the hidden habits of Maldivian manta rays

Threatened by habitat destruction and overfishing, mantas are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN. Ecotourism provides an economic incentive to protect them, but without proper measures it can be harmful to mantas. The Maldives, home to the world’s largest population of reef mantas (Mobula alfredi), makes over US$8 million annually through manta tourism. Maybe you have already joined Prodivers for a manta excursion, we regularly dive and snorkel at cleaning stations; areas of reef where small fish ‘clean’ larger animals like mantas.

Our Manta Trust representative based on Hurawalhi, Kirsty, also frequents these sites to conduct manta surveys and observe interactions. So far in 2018, Kirsty has recorded sightings of over 50 different individual manta rays in Lhaviyani Atoll. Her most commonly sighted manta ray is a large female who goes by the name Feng Shui (MV-MA-0041). Interestingly, Feng Shui has only ever been sighted inside Lhaviyani atoll. So what does Feng Shui spend her time doing when she’s not hanging out with the Prodivers team?

Well, the Manta Trust team have an exciting new project! They want to know if manta rays use reef habitats differently when divers/snorkelers are not present, as well as deepen our understanding of how temporal scales affect manta activity. Underwater time-lapse cameras will provide new insight into manta behaviour and habitat use, so they can provide vital scientific guidance to Maldivian communities, businesses and the government; ultimately helping them to protect the local manta population on which their economy depends.

But they need your help! Follow the link here and watch the video to find out more about the project and how you can support it.

Thank you for your support!