The researchers, led by Fabrice Jaine, determined the environmental factors that predict the abundance and behavior of manta rays. Understanding these factors is important for future conservation efforts.
The study took place at Lady Elliott Island in the Great Barrier Reef where the researchers were aided by volunteer SCUBA divers and tour operators.
- Manta rays are more likely to gather under a full or new moon
- They visit specific sites around the island for specific purposes (foraging, cleaning by smaller fish, cruising)
- They have dedicated “cleaning stations“
- Rays only gather in groups of 80 or more when foraging for food
- Overall numbers of rays are higher in autumn and winter and when wind speeds are lower
The authors also noted that this research could be applied to other large species that could be studied with the help of volunteer citizens.
You can find the results, published on Oct 3, in PLoS ONE: When Giants Turn Up: Sighting Trends, Environmental Influences and Habitat Use of the Manta Ray Manta alfredi at a Coral Reef
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