Conservation through Research, Awareness and Education

UK Registered Charity Number: 1145387

Brazil

Shafts of sunlight illuminate an oceanic manta ray as it glides through the ocean

 

Project Goals:

The Brazilian Marine Megafauna Project (or Projeto Megafauna Marinha do Brasil) was founded in 2015 to assess the population size and structure of Brazil’s manta rays, investigate their migration patterns and reproductive strategies, as well as the anthropogenic threats faced by these animals. As a supporting member of the European Citizen Science Association, the project aims to promote manta ray science and conservation among governments, tourists, local communities and tour operators to create greater awareness and protection for these graceful rays and their habitats.

Why this is important:

The Brazilian coast hosts only a few hotspots with high marine life diversity. These areas are targeted both by dive tourist operators, as well as by sport and commercial fishers. Two of the three confirmed aggregation hotspots for manta rays in Brazil (São Paulo, Paraná State and the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago) also lie within busy commercial shipping routes. Throughout the country, recorded sightings of the oceanic manta ray are low, numbering only a few dozen annually. More information on Brazil’s manta rays population and the threats they face is needed to ensure informed decisions for the conservation management of this species are taken.

An oceanic manta ray checks out a group of divers at Laje de Santos, Brazil

Project Overview:

The project is relatively new, however its founder and team are not new to the world of marine conservation. Since 2004, the team has been working with manta rays in Brazil, participating in important publications related to this subject. The knowledge that the team has accumulated in the last twelve years has galvanised their efforts to ensure more effective conservation actions for marine megafauna is undertaken locally in Brazil.

Images contributed to the Projeto Megafauna Marinha do Brasil by members of the general public

The project’s local outreach focus is to train divers to become engaged in citizen science, and drive education among Brazil’s children. The scientific focus is to gather robust data on manta rays through satellite tagging, photo-ID, behavioural observations and genetic sampling.

 

Main Objectives:

  1. Develop the photo identification database of individual manta rays in Brazil through monitoring numbers and identities.
  2. Assess and compare the behaviour and subsidiary information about the Brazilian mantas and other population in the Americas, such as Ecuador and Mexico.
  3. Record any signs of reproductive activity among oceanic mantas at the few aggregation areas, or any other site in Brazil, including any indications of courtship or mating behaviour and the appearance of pregnancy or mating scars in female mantas.
  4. Monitor any threats to the oceanic manta ray population and their habitat by monitoring tourism activities at key manta aggregation sites and recording incidences of targeted or accidental injury.
  5. To drive effective implementation and maintenance of national protective legislation for manta rays our team helped to create in 2013.

Partners & Sponsors:

Without the generous support we receive from our partners we would not be able to achieve our work in Brazil. We are very grateful to these organisations for their support.

© 2017 Manta Trust