- Investigate temporal and spatial distribution of Manta birostris
- Assess Population Size
- Assess natural and anthropogenic threats
- Community integration
Project Start Date:
To identify local, regional and large-scale movements of oceanic manta rays in the northern reaches of the Humboldt Current range bordering Ecuador and Peru as well as the wider Tropical Eastern Pacific. To identify threats to these populations of mantas within their range.
Why this is important:
Recently have we discovered that there is a significant population of giant mantas in this region. We have identified two distinct aggregation points for these rays at one particular juncture in their calendar, but contacts throughout the region’s fishing communities strongly suggest that aggregation points extend along a massive stretch of coastline, and for much more of the year than currently understood.
Ecuador and Peru have a much underdeveloped coastline, and seemingly endless expansion of their fishing fleets. Hundreds of miles of these respective coastlines bear nothing but battered sandstone rock and vast sandy beaches, punctuated with regularity by developing communities sustained predominantly by artisanal fishing activity. Tourism in this region is underdeveloped and the number of recreational dive outlets populating this 750 kilometre cross-border stretch of coastline could be counted on one hand. Data on mantas from this region is sparse to say the least.
Our aim is to work closely with the fishing communities over the next two years to build an accurate picture of the spatial and temporal distribution of the population of giant mantas. By building collaborative partnerships with other community based programs we aim to develop a clear understanding of the timings of the coastal migration of these rays, and how that migration fits with the Tropical Eastern Pacific region as a whole.
Our main focus for 2012 will be Peru, where we know there is a small, regular directed fishery for mantas, and we will be assisted by the team at Planeta Oceano led by marine biologist Kirsten Forsberg. We aim to identify the timings and locations of aggregations of mantas on this stretch of coastline, and hope to continue to build on our database that was started in Ecuador. Currently our research has recorded over 650 mantas and by geographically extending our project we hope to identify new sites and new mantas as well as learning more about the population of mantas we study at our existing sites.
- To identify aggregation sites and timings of giant manta rays along the northern Peruvian coastline regions of Tumbes and Piura.
- To build upon our current database to identify individuals using the migratory route and confirm that these mantas have been sighted at other known aggregation sites within Ecuador.
- Integrate with the local communities of the region to disseminate our findings to raise awareness of the importance of giant mantas within the ecosystem as an important source of revenue through tourism.
Partners & Sponsors:
Without the generous support and sponsorship we receive we would not be able to achieve our work in the Seychelles. We are very grateful to these organisations for their support.