DoE calls on divers to send in Manta snaps

| 13/07/2010

(CNS): Since the Department of Environment began its Manta Ray sighting programme two years ago 26 mantas have been reported by divers in Cayman Islands waters. A near threatened species, scientists still don’t know a great deal about Manta Rays and their populations or behaviour. As a result, the DoE is asking local divers to help with the research and to photograph any sightings of the marine creatures if the chance arises. This will contribute to the work going on to try and better understand the marine animals and their behaviour. Mantas (Manta birostris) are born at a size of about 4 feet and can grow to more than 20 feet and 3,000 lbs. (Photo by Tim Austin)

They feed mostly on plankton, do not have stinging spines, and pose no threat to humans. Females give birth to only one pup in each breeding season. Mantas are categorised as “near threatened” by the IUCN but little is known about the status of most populations.
“Researchers are even debating the number of manta species in the world’s oceans: are all mantas one species, or two, or maybe even more?” the DoE said in this month’s edition of its Marin Research News. “If you see a manta in Cayman try to photograph both the top and the bottom sides for ID.”
The experts ask divers not to chase or touch the animals but said colour patterns documented in the photos will help them identify manta species—and individuals—and be able to tell if animals are male or female depending on whether claspers like those on a stingray are seen.
“Cataloguing manta observations will also help us determine when and where these animals can be found and how they use our waters. We’re already starting to see patterns in sightings: for example, Ocean Frontiers staff have observed mantas in the same locations for several years,” the DoE added.
The DoE asks the public to report sightings of manta rays, whales, dolphins, sharks, large turtles (more than 3 feet shell length) and other large marine animals to their sightings database and asks, where possible, for spotters to include photos. For more information, join the Facebook group “Sharks & Cetaceans: the Cayman Islands”.
To read more about the marine work going on at DoE log on to the website or to be added to the DoE newsletter email list contact
The DoE wil also be holding a meeting in East End this evening regarding the proposed National Conservation Law at the East End Community Centre at 7pm. 
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Category: Science and Nature

Comments (4)

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  1. Environmentalist says:

    Great picture Tim.  I haven’t seen one in a while – last was at a dive site on SMB about 2 years ago. The most amazing thing ever!

  2.   Awesome stuff…I would love to see some of the sighting records or images of colour patterns from that area. I am in the middle of a worldwide study on Manta at the moment and am trying to get more information from the Caribbean so that I can work through the discrepancy in the colour form in that region. Let me know if you guys are interested in collaborating with this study!!

  3. Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

    FYI- You won’t find them under the floating bar.