Project Manta - Lady Elliot Island Field trip November 2009

Once more we had an amazing field trip amongst the mantas at Lady Elliot Island (LEI). During that intensive week, we managed to identify 18 manta rays including 5 new individuals: Sarathani, Evanella, Rhapsody, Habana, and Twilight.
Two of the mantas ID-ed, Maya and Gisela, were tagged from back June. It was great to see them around and gave us a great indication on their degree of site fidelity.
We also had the opportunity to start the mapping of the cleaning stations (i.e. cleaner fish territories) around the main diving site (Light House Bommie) where mantas are frequently sighted. We also recovered all our 5 listening stations that were deployed around the island. These stations have been placed at specific site under the water to receive and record the acoustic signal sent by tagged mantas when within 500m range from these receivers. We downloaded all the data and placed the listening station back to their original underwater location for more data recording (thanks Kym for all your help above and beyond!). We would like to thank the Australian Acoustic Tagging and Monitoring System (AATMOS) for giving us the opportunity to access this equipment and for sharing its expertise in all things acoustic. All 12 animals that were tagged in June were detected along with a few unknown tags. As Project Manta is part of the AATMOS network, we will be checking with other scientists who are known to have tagged animals in the region. It is through this data sharing that large stretches of the Australian coastline can be monitored. 
We obtained really exciting results from these stations that will help us to determine the spatial and temporal use of the habitats around the island by the mantas, however range testing and ground truthing are needed prior to making any final conclusions.
During this trip we had the chance to work with 4 new volunteers from Earthwatch, Phil, Dobby, Sarah and Graham. It was a pleasure to meet you and share our common passion for the marine world. Your help was precious during this trip and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much without you guys! It was great to meet you; we really hope to see you again!!!
If you want to or know someone who would like to become a volunteer for Project Manta during our Lady Elliot Island trip, contact EarthWatch Australia who is one of our valuable sponsors.
Contact: Andy Donelly
Email: scienceprogram@earthwatch.org.au
Website:http://www.earthwatch.org/australia/exped/townsend.html
If you have any photos of mantas you would like to share with us, please sent them to:
Email: l.couturier@uq.edu.au or manta.lydie@gmail.com
We need the date, location and name of photographer for each photo sent.