Manta Ray Diver Specialty

On the Manta Ray research trips we will dive at sites where manta rays are most frequently encountered. Then we will try to “tag” the Manta Rays – through pictures! With the photos and accurate descriptions of any marks, scars and gender – we add our collective pictures to a worldwide database for Manta Ray sightings. The is pooled with hundreds of other encounters and helps track migratory patterns, population density and much more. That is, if we find Manta Rays!! These, like many creatures, do not abide the will of man and we can only intend to have a Manta encounter, not guarantee one. We will however guarantee you interesting lectures by our staff with lots of information on the life, physiology and threats of these amazing creatures.

komodo-manta-researchOn our Komodo Manta Safaris we are looking for images which best show the spots on the underside (ventral surface) of the manta rays. These spots are unique to each and every manta ray, just like a fingerprint they can be used to identify every single individual. Other images which show the top (dorsal surface) of the manta rays, or the tail (ventral) area, can also be used to identify the specific species you encountered and/or the sex of the individual.

Using complex mathematical algorithms, the system automatically locates manta rays within digital images. The computer uses artificial intelligence to learn the features of manta rays so that it becomes better and better at recognising individuals with every new image which is added to the database. Once a positive ID is made, the automated animal recognition technology (ART) generates a biometric-ID from the spot patterns on the manta’s underside. The biometric-ID is then matched against other manta rays in the global database. Where there is a match, the time, date and location are added to the manta’s history file. If there is no match, then a new manta ray history file is created along with its movement data.

Why the Manta Ray Research Matters
Currently there are no comprehensive management programs for manta rays anywhere in the world, yet they are listed by the IUCN as ‘near threatened’ to extinction. This conservation assessment has not been updated since the discovery of two distinct species. The recent reclassification of the genus has major implications for the conservation assessment of the two species. Each species faces different and specific threats in various regions of the world, and the worldwide IUCN status of the genus requires urgent revaluation in light of this revision.

Prerequisites/Experience Required

For these trips – any certified diver can join!