PROJECT MANTA – JUNE UPDATE

Manta rays database

We are delighted to see that the word is being passed on and more and more people are getting involved in this project. We have received many great photos of mantas which have provided us with great information! At the moment the database count stands at 377 mantas, with 161 having been resighted at least once, and still many photos to go through!

Movements

Based on resighting events, 25 manta rays have now been shown to travel between Lady Elliot Island (LEI) and North Stradbroke Island (NSI); it is very exciting to see this number growing and it tells us so much about what the mantas are up to! From these 25, three mantas have been going back and forth several times between LEI and NSI, suggesting that some individuals undertake annual migrations that include these locations.

World record

We also received photos of 4 mantas seen at Byron Bay (BB) that have been previously seen at LEI, indicating that these animals have been swimming at least 506 km southward. This is the longest movement ever recorded for this species of manta ray!

In addition one of these mantas, a mature male called Nathan, has been sighted at NSI 21 days after being photographed at Byron Bay. It is very exciting to see that it is potentially the same population that migrates between LEI, NSI and BB!

LEI field trip

It is time for us to head back to LEI for 2 weeks of intense field trip with our Earthwatch volunteers. June is THE best time to get up there and dive with mantas, last year in a two week period we IDed about 150 animals! On the program this year, we have plankton sampling, oceanography, behavioural observations, photo-identification, documentary filming and more!

If you are interested in joining us for one of our future field trips at LEI, contact Andy Donnelly at Earthwatch Australia or Kathy Townsend at the University of Queensland. Note that the trips are now becoming so popular that we are solidly booked until the beginning of next year. So if you are thinking about it – book now for 2011!

science.program@earthwatch.com.au
http://www.earthwatch.org/australia/exped/townsend.html

Conference

Thanks to all of the photos received we have been able to compile enough information to present some results of this research a the important ‘Sharks International‘ conference in Cairns next week. It is very exciting as we will share all our information with other scientific researchers from around the world.

Come and see our photos and share your manta experience on our Facebook page:
Project Manta _The manta rays of eastern Australia

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or photos you would like to share at project.manta@uq.edu.au

Thank you for your support and we are looking forward to see your next photos!

All the best,

The Project Manta team

Lydie Couturier, Fabrice Jaine, Dr Kathy Townsend, Prof Mike Bennett, Dr Anthony Richardson, Dr
Scarla Weeks