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Mantas of the Maldives - An Introduction (part 1)

Despite the worldwide distribution of manta rays (Manta alfredi) in tropical and subtropical regions, there is very little published information on their biology or ecology. Knowledge of the abundance of mantas and their migration patterns is essential to guide conservation efforts, and the first stage in any study is a method to identify individuals.  In mantas, each individual has a characteristic pattern of dark markings on the ventral side. The seminar will teach what pattern to look to identify rays down to the individual. Manta rays are a major attraction for tourist divers and snorkelers in the Republic of Maldives. Based on surveys of experienced divers and tourists carried out at manta viewing dive sites, the manta-related touristic activity was estimated to be worth about US$8.1 million per year in direct revenue. The growth of manta ray watching has provided support for both research and conservation in the Maldives. However, there are indications that, at the most popular manta dive sites, the large numbers of visiting divers and snorkelers may be having a negative impact on manta numbers; the seminar will discuss responsible practices to follow while viewing mantas: preventing disturbances will help keep a healthy population of rays in the Maldives.


Part 1: Mantas of the world – An introduction to mantas general biology, life-cycle and behaviour

Part 2: Mantas of the Maldives Abundance and Distribution

Part 3: Q&A Session

Further Reading

  • Anderson RC, Adam MS, Goes J (2011) From monsoons to mantas: seasonal distribution of Manta alfredi in the Maldives. Fisheries Oceanography 20: 104-113.
  • Anderson RC, Adam MS, Kitchen-Wheeler A, Stevens G (2010) Extent and economic value of manta ray watching in the Maldives. Tourism in Marine Environments 7: 15-27.
  • Clark TB (2008) Movement patterns and foraging ecology of the Manta Ray (Manta birostris) Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) Abstract Book American Elasmobranch Society Devil Ray Symposium Montreal, 23-28 July, pp 460.
  • Dewar H, Mous P, Domeier M, Muljadi A, Pet J, Whitty J (2008) Movements and site fidelity of the giant manta ray,Manta birostris, in the Komodo Marine Park, Indonesia. Marine Biology 155: 121-133.
  • Doty MS, Oguri M (1956) The island mass effect. J Cons Int Explor Mer 22: 33-37.
  • Gilmartin M, Revelante N (1974) The ‘island mass’ effect on the phytoplankton and primary production of the Hawaiian Islands. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 16: 181-204.
  • Kitchen-Wheeler A (2010) Visual identification of individual manta ray (Manta alfredi) in the Maldives Islands, Western Indian Ocean Marine Biology Research 4: 351-363.
  • Kitchen-Wheeler A, Ari C, Edwards AJ (2012) Population estimates of Alfred mantas (Manta alfredi) in central Maldives atolls: North Male, Ari and Baa. Environmental Biology of Fishes 93: 557-575.
  • Marshall AD, Compagno LJV, Bennett MB (2009) Redescription of the genus Manta with resurrection of Manta alfredi(Krefft,1868) (Chondrichthyes; Myliobatoidei; Mobulidae). Zootaxa 2301: 1-28.
  • Purdy EG, Bertram GT (1993) Carbonate concepts from the Maldives, Indian Ocean. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Okla., U.S.A.
  • Rubin RD, Kumli KR, Chilcott G (2008) Dive characteristics and movement patterns of acoustic and satellite-tagged Manta Rays (Manta birostris) in the Revillagigedos Islands of Mexico In: Donnelly MA (ed) Joint Meeting of Icthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) Abstract Book American Elasmobranch Society Devil Ray Symposium Montreal, 23-28 July, pp 460.
  • Sengupta R, Desa E (2001) The Indian Ocean: A Perspective. Taylor& Francis, London.
  • Yano K, Takashi I, Hirofumi S, Takeharu K (2000) Telemetry studies on the movements of the manta ray, Manta birostris, at the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, Japan Abstracts of the American Elasmobranch Society Annual Meeting 2000, La Paz, Baja California de Sur, Mexico.

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