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Mantas of the Maldives - Manta Tourism (part 2)

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 different options for developing a responsible ‘manta Tourism’ and will describe some best practices to follow while viewing mantas because preventing disturbances will help keep a healthy population of rays in the Maldives.

Part 1: A summary of manta distribution and seasonality in the Maldives

Part 2: Manta Tourism at cleaning stations

Part 3: Cleaners and cleaning stations

Part 4: Manta cleaning ecology

Part 5: Disturbance of cleaning stations

Part 6: Q&A Session

Further Reading

  • 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
  • Bshary R, Côté IM (2008) New perspectives on marine cleaning mutualism. In: Magnhagen C, Braithwaite VA, Forsgren E, Kappor BG (eds) Fish behaviour. Science Publishers, Enfield (NH), pp 563–592.
  • Feder HM (1966) Cleaning symbiosis in the marine environment. In: Henery M (ed) Symbiosis. Academic Press, New York, pp 327-390
  • Gooding RM (1964) Observations of fish from a floating observation raft at sea. Proc Hawaiian Acad Sci 39: 27
  • Grutter AS (1995) Relationship between cleaning rates and ectoparasite loads in coral reef fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 118: 51-58
  • Kitchen-Wheeler A-M, Edwards AJ (In review) How often do manta rays visit cleaning stations in the Maldives? Environmental Biology of Fishes
  • Kitchen-Wheeler A-M (2013) The behaviour and ecology of Alfred mantas (Manta alfredi) in the Maldives. PhD Thesis, Newcastle University, UK
  • Losey GS (1972) The ecological importance of cleaning symbiosis. Copeia 1972: 820-833
  • Youngbluth MJ (1968) Aspects of the ecology and ethology of the cleaning fish Labroides phthirophagus Randall. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 25: 915-932

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