The Foundation for the Protection of Marine Megafauna has begun a worldwide study on the behaviour and migratory patterns of the newly-described giant manta ray (Manta birostris). Initial observations suggest that this species may be more migratory and oceanic than its smaller relative, the reef manta (Manta alfredi), which is typically resident to coastlines or island groups. To determine if the giants indeed travel great distances across oceans or along coastlines, Dr. Andrea Marshall, Dr. Simon Pierce and colleague Dr. Juerg Brunnschweiler sourced funding from the Save Our Seas Foundation to begin a worldwide study on their movement patterns. They hope to travel to several locations across the globe, teaming up with other local researchers or dive operators along the way.
The first stage of this study begin in Mozambique earlier this year when two giant mantas were tagged during the filming of “Manta Queen”, a BBC documentary on Andrea?s research.
The initial tagging efforts in Mozambique were a success. The movements of the second manta tagged (Magellen) resulted in the longest track of a manta ray in the Indian Ocean and supported initial speculation that this species both dives deep and travels great distances in search of food.
For the full details of these tracks and footage of the tagging, stay tuned for the documentary due out in November as part of the BBC Natural World series.