Raya’s month with mantas!
Our latest blog comes from Raya who joined the Manta Trust team in Baa Atoll to learn more about the mantas of the Maldives. With plenty of manta action, Raya tells us about her once in a lifetime experience swimming with these gentle giants. It has been almost three weeks since I joined the Manta Trust team and believe me it has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made! So where do I begin?
Returning to Paradise
This week we return to the Maldives to hear from Annie about her unexpected return to the Maldives. With only a few more weeks until the end of the season, there’s still plenty of manta action in north Male… This summer I was lucky enough to spend 2 months in the Maldives, studying the social behaviour of the manta rays of Baa Atoll as part of my MSc. After 9 incredible weeks of hanging out and filming the mantas sadly it was time to return to rainy England and finish my studies….but little did I know that I would be returning to paradise so quickly!!!
Back in Birmingham for DIVE 2013!
This weeks blog comes from Danny, as he tells us about the Manta Team’s successful weekend in Birmingham NEC at DIVE 2013!! Time sure does fly! It’s crazy to think how this time last year, a collection of the Manta Team assembled from around the world to set up our first little stand in a wee corner of the NEC exhibition hall.
The life of a Project Manager
As we near the end of this year’s manta season in Baa Atoll, we take a look at what it’s like to work in this unique corner of paradise. Today’s blog is from Niv, our Project Manager over in the Maldives, as he looks back at his experience……It was over two years ago that, almost by chance, I first moved to the Maldives to work as a marine biologist on a small island surrounded by one of the richest and most beautiful oceans on the planet. Immediately I was captivated by the amount of life found just beneath the surface and I realised it was the place I belonged.
Can do, Kendhoo
In this blog we hear from Alyssa our newest Maldives volunteer who joins us from Australia. Protecting mantas effectively is about way more that simply researching them and this was proven to Alyssa as she joined the Maldivian Manta Ray Project’s Assistant Manager Moosa for an ‘educational’ day! In the northern part of Baa Atoll lies Kendhoo, a lovely local island of which today I had the pleasure of visiting with Moosa, our Maldivian manager. With a recent lull in manta sightings and a complete absence of the elusive whale shark I was excited to be doing something a little different, just for a day.
Manta Mayhem in North Male!
Today’s blog is another from Tania, who you might remember from our previous posting (17th September). Just last week Tania’s manta dreams came true as she witnessed something truly unique while out on the dive boat…What’s the best way to start a new month? Well, if you are a Manta Trust volunteer, and a “manta-addicted” person like me, maybe you would like to start the month by seeing a lot of manta rays and getting good ID shots…sounds good, right?
Managing Mantas in Fiji
Tourism is one means by which we can encourage long term and sustainable use of manta rays as opposed to the consumptive fishing practices that threaten them in some parts of the world. Tourism generates great revenues and provides the opportunity to educate people about these amazing animals, but it does have a flip side and its impacts are necessarily always positive. Here Steve Pollett who runs our project in Fiji talk about some of the initiatives he’s heading up to ensure responsibly managed tourism in Fiji… After coming out last year to set the project up, the Manta Trust had a number of objectives it wanted to achieve in conjunction with Barefoot resort. A priority was to assess the tourism sustainability of the main manta feeding site and how it could be changed for the better; both for the guests and the mantas.
It’s not always about the mantas…
We’re now half way through the Maldives manta season which means we have to sadly say goodbye to our volunteers, BUT it means we get to welcome TWO new volunteers to the the Maldivian Manta Ray Project; Charlotte from London and Alyssa from Australia! First up here’s Charlotte (Charlie) Crick’s blog, an account of her first few days as a volunteer and why its not always about the mantas… As I sit here munching on my ‘Chocolate Puff’ biscuits (they were the closest I could get to English hobnobs in the staff shop) contemplating the events of the past week, I’m still struggling to believe I’m actually here. One of the reminding factors however, is the intense sunburn I received today on the boat. Note to self; cloud and driving rain does not appear to act as an effective sun block.
A Day in the Life of a Manta Trust Volunteer
Our latest blog from the Maldives comes from Tania Militello who has joined us as a volunteer at our secondary study area in North Male Atoll, based at the Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa. Unlike our primary research site where we have a dedicated research vessel in North Male, our volunteers accompany the dive boat each day to try and find mantas. Tania, who originally hails from Italy, has worked as a marine biologist in the Maldives in the past, but her dream has always been to work with manta rays. Here she describes the highs and lows of life as a Manta Trust volunteer and what a typical day is really like… The sun is shining high, the sea is flat calm, I wear my “Manta Trust” rash vest (I’m so proud!) and I am ready to hop on the dive boat.It’s so easy to spot manta rays over here, I just need to take a look around at the surface and…there’s a manta, and another one over there… oh wait, there are 3, no, 5….and so on!
Research, Awareness and Education on the Road
Saving manta and mobula rays is not just as simple as conducting research and collecting data, it involves a whole host of other activities; raising awareness through talks and seminars, providing educational opportunities, collaborating with other manta ray researchers and with scientists from different disciplines and specialities to name but a few! This summer Daniel Fernando, our project leader for several Manta Trust Projects and PhD student at the Linneaus Univeristy in Sweden, journeyed to the USA to embark on all of the above! Here’s how he got on… My journey to the US began with 35 hours of travelling, after which I arrived in San Diego and was met by both Josh Stewart (Manta Trust, Associate Director) and Madeline Wukusick (Manta Trust, Graphic Designer) who were kind enough to show me around and acclimatise me to the land of the free.