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The End of the Season….

By Guy Stevens, 1st December 2011

The end of November 2011 marks the end of another manta season for the MMRP, our sixth season researching the manta rays of Baa Atoll. As seasons go this is the worst yet for manta ray sightings, but we have achieved a lot this year, especially gaining a greater insight into the way the monsoons and their strength influence the numbers of animals we see.

Here’s a little snapshot of our season in Baa Atoll:

• 4 x Volunteers; Maldives, UK and Sri Lanka- thank you all for all your hard work!
• 1 x Masters Degree; well done Bec on your study on the impacts of manta ray tourism.
• 2,085 sightings- we usually have in the region of 3,500!
• 655 mantas identified.
• 202 new mantas.
• 146 days at sea researching.
• Over 8 hours of video footage to help us measure and understand the growth rates of our mantas.
• 4 x film crews; including one with SOSF’s Dr. Mark Meekan and Australia’s 60 minutes programme!
• 1 x new management plan from the Maldivian government; this will ensure that Hanifaru Bay, our key study site, is managed to ensure tourism and conservation can work side by side.
• 2 x new study sites; with the management plan in place and access to Hanifaru Bay, our key study site, more restricted than in previous years we have found and been able to understand 2 new sites in Baa Atoll which have high numbers of mantas feeding at certain times.

The work doesn’t finish here though! With the team members all heading back to their respective homes we have plenty to keep us all busy including the launch of our new website, more work on analysing the data we have gathered this year and trips to Sri Lanka, India and Mexico all planned for the next year! We’re recruiting volunteers now too for our 2012 season in the Maldives so contact us if you’d like to be a part of the work we do.

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