Conservation through Research, Awareness and Education

UK Registered Charity Number: 1145387

Thailand

Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, Southern Spur, Fuvahmulah Atoll, Maldives © Guy Stevens Manta Trust 2015 (2)Thailand-Manta-Project

Project Goals:

The primary goal of the Thailand Manta Project is to increase national protection for all manta and mobula species in Thai waters.  This will be achieved by working with local communities, businesses and the Thai government in order to raise awareness of the urgent need for protection of these species.

Why this is important:

Thailand’s underwater beauty is famous among the world’s diving community as one of the top dive destinations in South East Asia. From November to April divers visit the Andaman Sea with the hope of seeing the oceanic mantas which frequent these waters at this time. In terms of manta tourism, Thailand is the second most popular place in Asia to dive with these gentle giants. However, while manta tourism generates millions of dollars for the country each year, there are still no national protective laws in place for these animals and fisheries continue to threaten these species regionally. There is therefore an urgent need to collect data on these fisheries.

Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, Southern Spur, Fuvahmulah Atoll, Maldives © Guy Stevens Manta Trust 2015 (3)

Project Overview:

Thailand is blessed with beautiful coastlines on both sides of the country,  although it is usually on the West in the Andaman Sea where oceanic manta rays are more frequently seen.  The most well known of these sites are Koh Bon and the two pinnacles of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, where these giants gather, circling these sea mounts to clean and court.

Through multi-faceted research the Thailand Manta Project is working to shed light on Thailand’s manta populations and the threats that are impacting them. Using photo-identification methods and field observations this project is building a comprehensive database of individual manta rays, allows us to map the species distribution throughout Thailand. Over time, this data will enables us to make an estimation of population size and highlight trends in behaviour, movements, life history and identify areas of critical habitat use.

Investigating the manta ray fishery in Thailand is an equally important aspect of the project’s research. Currently it is unclear where mantas are being targeted and on what scale. Through fish market surveys, interviewing fishermen and investigating reported population declines the project works to uncover the true extent and impact of this threat in Thailand.

Through the research we will work closely with and engage local communities, businesses and the Thai government to help raise awareness on the ecological and economical importance of protecting manta rays and their habitat with the fundamental goal to create value for living manta rays as a sustainable natural resource for the tourism industry.

Main Objectives:Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, Southern Spur, Fuvahmulah Atoll, Maldives © Guy Stevens Manta Trust 2015 (6)

  1. Create a database of the Thai manta population and gather information (e.g, number of population, migration route, behavioural activity at each site).
  2. Monitor threats to the population, their habitat and the impact from tourism and fishery to the mantas.
  3. Educate and raise awareness about manta ray conservation to local communities, businesses and the Thai government.
  4. To increase national protective legislation for manta rays, areas of key habitat and migration routes.

Get involved:

Join us on Manta Expedition – As part of our mission to raise awareness and provide education on manta ray conservation, the Manta Trust has teamed up with regional eco-minded tourism operators to provide Manta Expeditions. This is our newest venture in raising vital awareness for these animals, a series of liveaboard dive that focus specifically on getting our guests in close proximity to manta rays, whale sharks and other ‘wish list’ marine species, while imparting expert knowledge and skills.

© 2017 Manta Trust