Saturday, 15 August 2009


We've so far had a fantastic week with the mantas. For the first time in this study area we have managed to capture with the stills above, these gigantic rays feeding, which could indicate their reason for arriving at this time of year. The below water shot shows the manta as it begins to propel itself towards the surface. These normally gentle, almost docile creatures tense up and take on an almost stallion like stance before powering towards the surface. On reaching the surface they throw themselves with gaping jaws over onto their backs, and as the upper picture shows, their ventral surface can be seen breaking the surface of the water. On this day we saw at least ten different incidence of breaching, with the manta's complete body clearing the water surface. We also saw considerable amounts of indefined splashing and rolling all aound us. Although I wasn't lucky enough to get the classic gaping image of a feeding manta (the action was taking place in seemingly random areas) I was lucky enough to be right next to this one as it powered up to the surface. Overall we have managed to ID a lot of individuals this week, we think well in excess of 20 (14 just in one day), but so far a conclusive resighting of any repeat individual from previous years remains elusive. We are going to spend the next couple of days checking our new ID's and past records carefully to see if we can see any correlation. If we can't find any repeat visits, then it might point to the population we previously thought was quite small, to being much bigger, and that their visits here might just be part of a longer, ongoing linear migration of this group.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

mantas return

Our first day in the water after too long a stretch afforded us an immediate closeup encounter with our old friends, the mantas of coastal ecuador. No sooner had we arrived at the anchor and our dive companion Stacy Bierwegen was approached up close and personal by the familiar ghostly shape of my long time manta friends. As if in recognition of our long friendship, the manta circled us for over ten minutes, hovering around in our bubble streams and examining us as closely as we were examining it.
Sadly, some fishing line was caught around its torso, and reminded us starkly why we are here, to learn more about them and hopefully raise awareness as to their vulnerability.
We sighted four mantas in total on our first day and positively ID´d two of them, which looked very similar to ones from our records from 2007. We will try to confirm if this is a definite repeat sighting in the next few days.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Isle of Man Basking Shark Conference

The Isle of Man is hosting the world's first ever basking shark conference. Designed to bring together the greatest names in the basking shark world to bang heads and bring attention to how basking sharks can be best conserved. The Isle of Man is also bringing attention during the conference to a new marine reserve earmarked for manx waters coming into effect during 2011. I wonder if anyone in westminster will be listening......???