Manta rays are the world’s largest ray with a disc width reaching up to nine metres. The Australian species, Manta alfredi, has a worldwide distribution and occurs in relatively shallow waters along the east coast of Australia. Although manta rays are commonly seen and dived with along the coast, there is relatively little known about their biology and ecology and no scientific data available on the eastern Australian population.
Project Manta aims to rectify this disturbing lack of data through a comprehensive study that will simultaneously enhance our knowledge of Manta alfredi and generate economic and social benefits. The manta rays’ global distribution and easily identifiable shape makes it an excellent indicator species through which to monitor the effects of environmental change on our oceans and reefs. As the effects of climate change cause
marked changes to global oceanic conditions including changes in water temperature, current patterns and ocean acidification, we need to understand potentially dramatic consequences on the distribution, movements and behaviours of manta rays and the reefs on which they depend. Correlating manta distributionand movements with large scale oceanographic changes will help scientists to identify and monitor global oceanic health.