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Hanifaru Bay: a case study

A bay the size of a football pitch, Hanifaru Bay is a unique and special site where, during favourable conditions, over 200 manta rays aggregate to feed on the zooplankton trapped inside the bay. Hanifaru Bay is now a Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the Maldives and a core site within the recently established Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The extraordinary manta feeding aggregations of Hanifaru have been featured in many magazines and documentaries (National Geographic, BBC, etc.) and quickly gained dramatic popularity, making it now one of the top tourist destinations of the country. This seminar will explore the “Case of Hanifaru Bay”, an insight into the process that turned Hanifaru Bay into a Marine Reserve where tourism and exploitation impacts are minimised in order to safeguard the unique and fragile manta ray population visiting the site and to guarantee that such important resource will be available for generations to come. The declaration of Hanifaru Bay to an MPA did not happen overnight but was the result of years of research, discussions and collaboration between Governmental Parties, NGOs, local communities and site users.

Part 1: An introduction on manta behaviour and threats

Part 2: Hanifaru Bay, a special place for mantas

Part 3: How Hanifaru bay became a protected area

Part 4: How tourism impact mantas

Part 5: About Manta Trust

Part 6: Questions and Answers

Further Reading

  • Anderson, R. C., Adam, M. S., Kitchen-Wheeler, A.-M., & Stevens, G. (2011). Extent and Economic Value of Manta Ray Watching in Maldives. Tourism in Marine Environments,7(1), 15-27. doi:10.3727/154427310X12826772784793
  • Anderson, R. C., Adam, M. S., & Goes, J. I. (2011). From monsoons to mantas: seasonal distribution of Manta alfredi in the Maldives. Fisheries Oceanography20(2), 104-113. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2419.2011.00571.x
  • Brooks, K. (2010). Investigating tourism at Hanifaru Bay marine protected area, Maldives. MSc Thesis. University of York.
  • Brooks, K., & Stevens, G. (2010). Developing Tourism at Hanifaru Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA) – Report for Maldivian Government (pp. 1-12).
  • Ward-Paige, C. a., & Lotze, H. K. (2011). Assessing the Value of Recreational Divers for Censusing Elasmobranchs. (M. Somers, Ed.)PLoS ONE, 6(10), e25609. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025609
  • Deakos, M. H. (2010). Ecology and social behavior of a resident manta ray (Manta alfredi) population off Maui, HawaiiPopulation (English Edition). University of Hawaii.
  • Deakos, M. H. (2011). The reproductive ecology of resident manta rays (Manta alfredi) off Maui, Hawaii, with an emphasis on body size. Environmental Biology of Fishes. doi:10.1007/s10641-011-9953-5
  • Deakos, Mh, Baker, J., & Bejder, L. (2011). Characteristics of a manta ray Manta alfredi ­population off Maui, Hawaii, and implications for management. Marine Ecology Progress Series429, 245-260. doi:10.3354/meps09085
  • Kitchen-Wheeler, A.-M. (2010). Visual identification of individual manta ray ( Manta alfredi ) in the Maldives Islands, Western Indian Ocean. Marine Biology Research6(4), 351-363. doi:10.1080/17451000903233763
  • Kitchen-Wheeler, A.-M., Ari, C., & Edwards, A. J. (2011). Population estimates of Alfred mantas (Manta alfredi) in central Maldives atolls: North Male, Ari and Baa. Environmental Biology of Fishes. doi:10.1007/s10641-011-9950-8
  • MacGlennon, G. (2008). Social structure and behaviour of the Manta ray (Manta birostris) in the Republic of the MaldivesMSc Thesis.
  • Romanov, E. V. (2010). Mobulidae of the Indian Ocean : an identification hints for field sampling.

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