Manta Ray mass descends on island
More than 100 manta rays have mysteriously gathered off the shores of Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef, exciting resort staff.
The majestic marine creatures, with wing spans of up to 7 metres, have been travelling to the small coral cay for the past month.
Manta rays, known by early seafarers as devil fish, are major drawcards for divers around the world. They are harmless and feed on krill.
“We know that Lady Elliot Island is a magnet for manta rays all year round, but what we have seen in the past few weeks has been amazing, we’ve not experienced numbers like this for many years” Lady Elliot Island Resort managing director Peter Gash said.
Over the past four weeks the resort’s dive shop team, led by Mark Atkinson, have photographed and identified100 manta rays by the unique markings on their undersides.
“We started naming them after Greek Gods, but quickly ran out of names. The waters around Lady Elliot Island are like a manta ray soup,” Mr Atkinson said.
“We’ve just identified our 100th manta ray – his name is Centurian.”
The arrival of the manta rays coincides with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) international Climate Response Group workshop being held at Lady Elliot Island Resort.
Dr Paul Marshall, from the GBRMPA’s Climate Change Group, was excited to see the manta rays while conducting a coral survey.
“We looked up to see about a dozen manta rays hovering overhead. They blocked out the sun. It was incredible,” he said.
Dr Marshall said that the Great Barrier Reef, although it had been impacted by climate change, was still one of the healthiest reef systems in the world.
“If we keep our reefs healthy, creatures like the manta ray will continue to come to places like Lady Elliot Island for years to come.”
The University of Queensland has planned to begin a manta research project on Lady Elliot Island in 2008.
Media enquiries to Wayne Fox 07 4156 4444
About Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island is the southern most island of the Great Barrier Reef. It is also one of only three true coral cay resorts on the reef and is known for its world class diving and snorkelling.
The Lady Elliot Island Resort is managed by Grant Kenny, Peter Gash and Michael Kyle and offers four styles of accommodation.
Access to Lady Elliot is via a short scenic flight direct to the island’s own airstrip out of Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Brisbane or the Gold Coast.