New study collates manta sightings

Article Summary:

A paper published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) ONE journal has collated the sightings of manta rays (Manta alfredi) at Lady Elliot Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The sightings were then compared to behavioural, weather and oceanographic data collected over a three-year period, in order to examine the link between the relative number of sightings of manta rays, the biophysical environment, and the habitat use of individuals. The results suggest that mantas visit specific sites for different purposes and that he overall number of manta rays at the island was higher in autumn and winter, around the new and full moon, and when wind speeds were lower. The sighting data was collected by volunteer divers and staff at local diver operators, highlighting the role of “citizen scientists” as an important tool for data collection.