The black and white pattern of the fish’s skin is like a “finger print” and allows scientist to learn about the migration routes of these large animals and thus contribute to the efforts to preserve ocean’s mightiest rays. Good conservation requires a holistic approach. The Manta Trust researchers and volunteers work closely with tourists, local communities, businesses and governments to ensure the preservation of these amazing animals through good science, education, community based initiatives and government legislation.
Teaming up with the Bird’s Head Seascape website and Conservation International, Sarah Lewis, project leader of the Indonesia Manta Project announced the launch of an online Bird’s Head Seascape Manta ID database: a visual and interactive platform that invites you to meet the manta rays and contribute towards manta research. For the past six years Manta Trust’s Indonesian Manta Project has been working to better understand and protect manta rays across this vast archipelago, and one of the most important ways we do this is through the use of photo identification. The photo ID work in the Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS) began in 2011 when the website administrators Maurine Shimlock and Burt Jones teamed up with Misool Eco Resort and Papua Diving to start learning about the manta rays of Raja Ampat. Five years later it has expanded into a comprehensive research and conservation program that encompasses much of the Bird’s Head Seascape, and includes a passionate team of local, national and international partners.
Maurine and Burt’s vision for the BHS Manta ID site is to give everybody the opportunity to get to know and love the BHS manta rays through an easy to use and highly visual online platform. In addition, BHS visitors can use this site to submit (and even ID) their own manta ray photos, contributing directly to the research while learning about “their” manta rays in the process. As the manta library grows, so does the understanding of the manta population—each photo acting like a piece of the puzzle. “Increased understanding is critical for the development of successful species conservation and we encourage BHS visitors to get involved and help us with this exciting and important research…every photo counts!” says Maurine Shimlock, one of Blancpain’s Edition Fifty Fathoms photographers: “By sharing our science through this site, our hope is to inspire empathy towards these vulnerable rays and connect those people who might not otherwise be able to visit the BHS manta rays.”If you’re a diver, please visit the site and contribute your photographs! Each of you then becomes a member of the conservation team. We need and count on your support. If you love manta rays and are concerned about their and the ocean’s welfare…get involved!