The Manta Team
DR. GUY STEVENS
CEO & Co-Founder
THOMAS P. PESCHAK
Head of Conservation Strategy
Media & Communications Manager
Director of Operations
DR. JOSH STEWART
MALDIVIAN MANTA RAY PROJECT
Maldives Project Leader
Maldives Community Education & Outreach Officer
Project Manager -
Assistant Project Manager - Laamu Atoll
Project Manager -
Project Manager - Lhaviyani Atoll
Project Manager - Lhaviyani Atoll
Assistant Project Manager - Baa Atoll
Project Manager - Ari Atoll
Project Manager - North Malé Atoll
OUR AFFILIATE PROJECTS
Seychelles Manta Ray Project
Sri Lanka - Mobulid Fisheries (Blue Resources)
Thailand Manta Project
Chagos Manta Ray Project
South-East Asia & West Pacific
Indonesian Manta Project
The Mobula Project Indonesia
Micronesian Conservation Coalition
Manta ID Palau
Initiative Manta en Nouvelle-Calédonie
Philippines Mobulid Project
Manta Watch New Zealand
Fiji Manta Ray Project
French Polynesia Manta Ray Project
DR. MARK DEAKOS
Hawaii Association for Marine Education & Research
Central & South America
Mexican Caribbean Manta Project
DR. BOB RUBIN & KAREY KUMLI
Pacific Manta Research Group
Central & South America Database Manager
Proyecto Mantas Ecuador
ERNST VAN DER POLL
Brazilian Marine Megafauna Project
Peru Manta Ray Project
OTHER PRINCIPAL COLLABORATIONS
IDtheManta Manager &
Research Officer - Manta Reproductive Ecology
Manta Social Behaviour
Chair of Board of Trustees
Paul Jackson’s fascination with fish was sparked when his family relocated to Greece for six months when he was just 9 years old. Snorkelling with his father in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, he was taken with the abundance of marine life he saw every day. A further holiday to California brought him his first sighting of a shark and he was smitten. Years of tropical fishkeeping were to follow!
A gap year trip to Australia in 1989 provided an opportunity to dive the Great Barrier Reef and that, in turn, led him to undertake his PADI qualification.
Whilst Paul’s education (BA in Economics and Politics and MSc in Charity Finance) took him to London, where he is Group Chief Executive of The Hospital Saturday Fund (a charity), each holiday is spent exploring the reefs and oceans of the world. Desperate to dive with manta rays but with a young family, Paul made a solo trip to the Maldives in 2011. Fate played a hand and Paul ended up spending his entire holiday on Guy Stevens’ research boat in Hanifaru Bay. A week of observing and snorkelling with mantas and whale sharks made up Paul’s mind; he was determined to use his knowledge of the charity sector to help these magnificent animals.
In December 2011, Paul was appointed Chairman of the Manta Trust. Recently, Paul has spent some time in Cancun, Mexico snorkelling with the large numbers of mantas and whale sharks that aggregate there in the summer. Paul has also returned to Hanifaru Bay a number of times since 2011. In fact, in 2018 he experienced the amazing spectacle of 200 manta rays cyclone-feeding in the Bay. This wonderful experience has made Paul even more passionate about supporting the Manta Trust.
Katie has been involved with the Manta Trust since it's inception. She completed her master's research in the Maldives in 2010 looking at the impact of the growing tourism market on manta rays, returning in subsequent years to take on management of the Maldivian Manta Ray Project. She also spent time running the charity's operations, before joining the board of trustees. Katie currently works for an international conservation NGO and her work focuses on understanding conservation impact across a portfolio of projects.
Despite spending most of his working life in the financial industry, Jo has had a varied life. He has spent six years in the British Army, worked for an automotive technology company providing diagnostic equipment for the F1 teams, played bass guitar and saxophone in various bands, rallyed a 1957 race-car across the Alps and acted in a feature film, amongst other things.
Having retired from the heady world of finance in 2018, he and his wife, Camilla, now run a motorcycle tour company called Mad Hatter Motorcycle Adventures, taking clients all over the world on their Harley Davidson or Indian motorcycles to ride the most exhilarating roads in the most beautiful places they can find! He has never been busier...!
Jo and Camilla now live in Norfolk with various animals, enjoying an unhealthy obsession with motorcycling with several bikes including a 1937 Enfield, a Russian military sidecar outfit, various Harley Davidsons and an Indian lurking in the garage…
Mark Davies has spent the last quarter of a century employed in developing business in the specialist financial services world for the charitable sector. Always enthralled by the diversity of this sector Mark has much experience as a trustee working for a number of organisations including a small furniture recycling project, a homelessness group, a national infrastructure body and as non-executive director at HSF Health Plan working alongside fellow Manta Trust trustee Paul Jackson.
Outside of work one of Mark’s passions is snowboarding, converting from skiing 12 years ago, he’s never looked back, he also is a huge Welsh rugby fan and a keen walker and cyclist. He’s not yet ventured into the underwater realm and is hoping that his involvement with the Manta Trust might finally inspire him to take the plunge!
Mark is excited to serve as a trustee for The Manta Trust and to learn more about the amazing and graceful creatures the Trust works so hard to protect and help flourish. Mark is hoping that his wealth of experience in the charity sector will assist The Manta Trust’s development as the leading authority in their field.
James Maxwell is a marketer of 17 years and counting. Having studied and worked in marketing for all of his professional life, this is a subject that intrigues and fascinates James no end. He has worked on national and international campaigns for some of the market leaders in a range of industries such as KLM-Air France, AOL, Concern Worldwide and the British Safety Council.
Outside of his office life, James is passionate about football and has been managing a football outreach programme for local children. The programme is into its 12th year and James sees it as a chance to use sport as a positive influence on the lives of the young people.
As a lover of wildlife and nature, James is pleased to be aboard the Manta Trust team and is both grateful and excited for the opportunity to provide some marketing input.
Nic Trollope was a partner of Conyers Dill & Pearman, barristers and attorneys, in Bermuda before retiring in 2010. He has always taken an active interest in environmental matters. He supported WWF in Brazil on a variety of their projects and was on the board of the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. Nic feels very privileged to complement his experiences in this as a trustee of the Manta Trust.
Wildlife TV Presenter
Steve Backshall is a BAFTA-winning English naturalist, writer and television presenter, best known for BBC TV's Deadly 60. His other BBC work includes being part of the expedition teams in Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Volcano and Lost Land of the Jaguar. He has worked for the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel, has published three novels for children and several non-fiction works.
An all-round action man and larger-than-life individual, Steve has been a powerful voice for sharks and rays for many years, particularly in changing people’s mindsets behind their unfortunate reputation, and raising awareness of the fisheries threatening them with extinction.
Conservationist, Cinematographer & Shark Ambassador
Valerie Taylor is a renowned conservationist, shark expert, and iconic cinematographer and competitive spearfisher. Together with her late husband, Ron Taylor, the pair helped open the world’s eyes to the wonders of marine life, particularly sharks. They were the first people to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage. They’ve created and helped produce various films and TV series over the years, including Shark Hunter, the American feature film, Blue Water, White Death, and assisting Steven Spielberg to work on Jaws.
Roger Munns is an Emmy and BAFTA award-winning cameraman. He was one of the principal cameramen on Blue Planet II and has worked extensively on other landmark BBC natural history productions such as Life, Life Story and Life in Cold Blood.
Roger has been a friend and vocal supporter of the Manta Trust for many years, even before becoming an official patron.
Founder of Girls that Scuba
Sarah Richard is the founder of Girls that Scuba - now the largest female dive community. A full-time digital nomad, Divemaster and travel blogger, Sarah started Girls that Scuba to connect women who have a passion for the ocean and diving with each other and just three years later Girls that Scuba has over 500,000 members from around the globe. Girls that Scuba share stories of female empowerment, plastic education and ocean restoration as well as encouraging and inspiring more people to start scuba diving. Click the link below to find out more about Girls that Scuba, including their female only dive trips and plastic and waste free online store.
Sarah is dedicated to supporting vital marine conservation, including the work of the Manta Trust. We are delighted to welcome her to the Manta Team and look forward to many exciting future collaborations!
Polar & Underwater Cameraman / Photographer
Doug Allan is a Scottish wildlife and documentary cameraman and award-winning photographer. As the recipient of the Fuchs Medal and the Polar Medal (twice), no other cameramen is as experienced filming in polar regions as Doug – whether on the ice or diving under it. He has won countless awards for his photography, on programmes including The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Human Planet and Frozen Planet.
Like all of our longest-standing patrons, Doug has championed the Manta Trust and its work for many years, and we’re fortunate to have him as a patron and conservation ally.
PADI Course Director & Marine Conservationist
Zoona Naseem was one of the first female Maldivians to qualify as a PADI Scuba Instructor in 1996 and went on to become the Maldives’ first woman to obtain the rank of PADI Course Director (which represents just 1% of the diving industry). Having worked for over 24 years as a PADI professional in a number of resorts and dive centres teaching a huge number of local Maldivians to dive, Zoona went on to open her own dive centre and PADI 5 star Instructor Development facility called Moodhu Bulhaa.
Zoona is a diving icon in the Maldives and is much respected for breaking gender barriers as well as being a strong advocate for marine conservation and encouraging the next generation to take the plunge. Her work has been recognised by numerous national and international awards, most recently the Local Hero Award at the Oceans Awards 2019.
Zoona aims to convince Maldivian parents that the ocean is a safe place and to encourage them to allow their children to enjoy it. For her, in a country like the Maldives, the oceans should be their playground, and their children should be swimming before they walk.
OUR SCIENTIFIC ADVISERS
PROFESSOR CALLUM ROBERTS
Professor Callum Roberts is a marine conservation biologist at the University of York in the UK. He was first tempted into marine science by a trip to the coral reefs of Saudi Arabia, where he studied behaviour and coexistence of herbivorous fishes. This led to a lifelong love of coral reefs and effectively dispelled his prior notion that marine science was all about freezing on the deck of a North Sea trawler knee deep in fish. In the early 1990s his interests in behaviour gave way to concern about the deteriorating condition of coral reefs, leading to his current emphasis on marine conservation.
Currently, Callum’s research focuses on human impacts on marine ecosystems. While his interests in marine conservation have blossomed over the years, his field research remains firmly rooted on coral reefs. On the islands of St. Lucia and Saba in the Caribbean, he has studied the effects of marine reserves closed to all fishing. Those studies revealed both the huge scale of human impacts on the sea, and the means of protecting marine ecosystems from such effects. He is now working to gain acceptance for marine reserves more widely, including in Britain and Europe where he is helping fishers to promote the concept within the industry and to politicians.
He was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation in 2000 to tackle obstacles to implementing marine reserves, and in 2001 he was awarded a Hardy Fellowship in Conservation Biology at Harvard University.
DR. MARK ERDMANN
Mark is senior advisor for Conservation International-Indonesia’s marine program, with a primary focus on managing CI’s marine conservation initiatives in the Bird’s Head Seascape in West Papua. Mark is a coral reef ecologist (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) who has lived and worked for the past 22 years in Indonesia. During this time he has logged over 10,000 scuba dives while surveying marine biodiversity throughout the region. He has published 120 scientific articles and 5 books, including most recently the 3-volume set “Reef Fishes of the East Indies” with colleague Dr. Gerald Allen. Mark was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation in 2004 for his work in marine conservation education. Though his work is now largely focused on the management of marine protected areas, his continuing research interests include reef fish and mantis shrimp biodiversity, genetic connectivity in MPA networks, and coral reef restoration techniques, and he maintains a research associate position with the California Academy of Sciences.
Most recently, Mark has become quite involved in manta conservation research in Raja Ampat and in advising the Raja Ampat government and Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in development of manta ray protection regulations.
Mark now lives with his wife Arnaz and three children in Bali, and maintains a deep personal commitment to do whatever is necessary to ensure his children will be able to enjoy the same high-quality underwater experiences that continue to provide the inspiration for his dedication to the marine environment.
Sarah Fowler has a First Class Joint Honours Degree in zoology and marine zoology from the University College of North Wales, Bangor and an MSc in conservation from University College, London. After eight years of service as the marine ecologist for the former UK government conservation advisory agency, the Nature Conservancy Council, she became Director of Marine and Coastal Services for Naturebureau International, an ethical environmental consultancy. Sarah was appointed Co-chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group in 1991 and is currently vice-chair for international treaties. She developed the concept for and founded the European Elasmobranch Association to promote the conservation and management of sharks and rays in European waters, as well as its UK member body, the Shark Trust. In 2004, she was appointed as Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to marine conservation and a Pew Fellow in marine conservation in 2005. Sarah has over 20 years of professional experience in applied marine biodiversity conservation and natural resource management and is particularly interested in natural resource management projects, the interface between fisheries and wildlife interests, and in the resolution of conflicting user requirements. She currently works as a principal scientist for the Save Our Seas Foundation and as an independent consultant.
DR. GIUSEPPE NOTARBARTOLO DI SCIARA
Giuseppe earnt his Ph.D. in Marine Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego in 1985. Mantas and mobulas have always played a role in his career, he started out as a species-oriented marine ecologist with a particular focus on marine mammals and manta rays, of which he described a new species, Mobula munkiana. Since these beginnings he progressively moved towards place-based marine conservation.
In 1986 he spearheaded the creation of the Italian national cetacean stranding network, which he coordinated until 1990. In 1986 he funded the Tethys Research Institute in Milano, which he directed until 1997 and now again since 2010. In 1991 he proposed the creation of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, which was established in 1999 by a treaty amongst Italy, France and Monaco. In 1996 he was nominated president of the Central Institute for Applied Marine Research in Rome, the Italian governmental body providing scientific and technical support to national marine conservation policy, where he served for seven years. He served from 1999 to 2003 as Commissioner or Alternate Commissioner for Italy at the International Whaling Commission, and from 2002 to 2010 as Chair of the Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS.
His current activities include: Regional Coordinator for the Mediterranean and Black Seas, IUCN WCPA – Marine (since 2000); Deputy Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission – Cetacean Specialist Group (since 1991), and member of the Shark Specialist Group (since 1993). Giuseppe teaches science and policy of the conservation of marine biodiversity at the University of Milan.
DR. JULIE P HAWKINS
Julie is a lecturer at the University of York where she runs an MSc in Marine Environmental Management. Her research focuses on human impacts on marine ecosystems and how to reduce the problems these create. This interest began when she witnessed a massive and rapid growth in tourism on Egypt’s coral reefs. Over the years her research on the effects recreational scuba diving on coral reefs has moved from firstly playing a major role in getting the issue recognised, to then seeing it become addressed throughout the tropics. More recently her work has explored the impacts of fishing and how marine protected areas can help rectify the failings of other forms of fishery management. In terms of field work this has largely been centred on Caribbean coral reefs. Julie is a keen naturalist whose love of marine wildlife, which is definitely focused on fish, extends from the small (e.g. blennies) to the large (e.g. manta rays) with just about everything in between (particularly parrotfish).
DR. ROBERT RUBIN
Robert Rubin received his Ph.D. in Comparative Physiology and Marine Ecology from the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Rubin presently is a faculty member in the Department of Biology at Santa Rosa Community College, where he teaches courses in Marine Biology and The Biology of Marine Mammals. In addition, he has taught at the University of California Irvine and Santa Cruz, University of Maryland, Sonoma State University and The Huntsman Marine Laboratory in New Brunswick, Canada.
Dr. Rubin has conducted field and laboratory research on several species of marine mammals, including: hooded and harp seals in the Arctic, elephant seals in California, harbor seals in the Atlantic, Alaska and California, and sea otters in California and in Russia at the invitation of the Russian government and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Rubin’s research interests in the Gulf of California have spanned over three decades and have included field and/laboratory studies of the physiology of salt and water metabolism in fish-eating bats at Isla Partida and the population ecology of sea birds at Isla Raza. Beginning in 1990, he has been conducting field research on the population and community ecology of manta rays in the Revillagigedos Islands.
Dr. Rubin has served as an educational program consultant to the US Department of Energy, The National Science Foundation and to the California of Education. He has been awarded several faculty and teaching awards, including but not limited to: Distinguished Teaching Award from University of California, Irvine, Alumni Professor of the Year from Santa Rosa Community College, Excellence in Education Recognition from the California State Senate and Special Congressional Recognition for Educational Excellence from the United States Congress.