We had another wonderful field trip at LEI with our Earthwatch volunteers. This trip was not only productive but also very fun. It is always great to meet amazing people that are so keen to learn and help research. This field trip was marked by the fanatic feeding behaviour displayed by the mantas. In fact, only a couple of manta rays were encountered cleaning at the popular dive sites while the others were almost constantly feeding at the surface (feeding on plankton). We did some sampling during those feeding events and the net got completely clogged at some stage as there was so much plankton in the water. No question why the mantas were going crazy feeding!
The feeding behaviour of the mantas was also very intriguing. So far we had only seen the mantas feeding near the surface at LEI, swimming against the current with their mouth wide open. But this time, as the water was so full of plankton, some mantas started feeding in a looping behaviour, a feeding strategy that is seen in some other parts of the world but first time observed by us at LEI. This is very exciting, and it is all on video!
We will analyse the plankton density and composition, and look at what factors may have influenced such abundance. We will let you know what we find.
We identified 29 mantas during that week, including 3 new individuals: Kenji-san, Hellen and Ana.
As usual, we had another trip full of surprises and we would like to thank Noriko, Kenji, Elaine, Linda, Hideko and Lucy for their amazing support, efficiency and fun during that field trip.
Our two next Project Manta trip to Lady Elliot Island will be in June and September 2011. If you would like to come and be part of the project during those field trips you can contact us or Earthwatch Australia for more information: