CONSERVATION THROUGH RESEARCH, AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
Manta rays are large and charismatic cartilaginous fish. There are two species of manta ray, both of which can be found in the Maldives: the oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris), reaching up to 7m in wingspan and the smaller reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) found along reef edges and continental shelves, with an average wingspan of 3.5m. However, despite their size, these ocean giants are among the friendliest fish in the sea, making them a joy for divers and snorkelers to encounter whilst in the water!
The partnership between The Manta Trust and Diamonds Resorts is incredibly exciting particularly because of the location of Diamonds Resorts Athuruga and Thudufushi in central Ari Atoll. Here manta rays can be seen exhibiting cleaning and feeding behaviours allowing both divers and non-divers the chance to swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
The Manta Trust is a UK registered charity whose mission is to advance the worldwide conservation of manta rays and their habitat through robust science and research, by raising awareness and providing education, influence and action.
The Manta Trust’s flagship project, the Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP), was established in 2005 to gather data on the population of reef manta rays in Maldivian waters, which at the time had not been studied.
The aim of the MMRP is to collect long-term, robust data on the life cycle, population dynamics and habitat usage of the Maldives manta population to aid their conservation. Using the unique pattern of black spots on the belly of each manta ray, the MMRP has documented over 4,000 individual mantas from over 40,000 separate photo-ID confirmed sightings becoming the world’s largest manta ray database.
The Manta Trust Researchers at both resorts accompany regular dives to cleaning sites, sharing insights and facts with guests and involving them in the ongoing research and Photo-ID collection. The Researchers also leads excursions to a local manta feeding area – a lagoon just 15 minutes away by speedboat – to find and snorkel with these gentle giants as they aggregate near the surface for a plankton feast.
During both trips our Researchers offer guests an educational and rewarding experience by making their manta encounters more personal and directly involving them in the research and conservation of these wonderful creatures! In addition to the daily data collection, the Researchers conduct informative weekly presentations and fun, hands-on workshops aim to educate, inspire and enrich guests’ vacation whilst raising awareness about the work of the Manta Trust and the importance of manta rays’ conservation.