This is research is key in allowing us to gain a better understanding of how reef manta rays uses the archipelago ‘s ecosystems and which environmental cues dictates their movements. Additionally, it will also give us a precious insight into the role of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) surrounding the Chagos Archipelago as a refuge for this species within the Indian Ocean. In order to gather such information, I will be using satellite and acoustic telemetry, in-situ plankton sampling coupled with oceanographic monitoring.
I believe this study will also highlight the impact human activities and climate change have on reef manta rays. Thus enabling a more accurate identification of the threats to the conservation of reef manta ray populations worldwide.
The Chagos Archipelago population of manta rays inhabit an almost pristine marine environment and as such, can help us to understand natural processes that influence their survivorship, which will inform conservation management throughout their range.
Sentinel Species ResearchReef Manta Rays in the Indian Ocean Region
Coral Reef ResilienceMesophotic Reefs in the Indian Ocean Region
Coral Reef ResilienceInternal Waves as an Oceanographic Driver of Ecosystem Variability
The reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi) are precious creatures subject to increasing pressure both from human activities and climate change. Direct exploitation for their gills has recently increased following a rise in demand from traditional Chinese medicine caused an added pressure on manta ray populations. Nonetheless, the often overlooked touristic pressure on these animals is increasingly threatening this species and its habitat. While working in the Maldives my research focused on identifying key areas of habitat use where such pressure is increasing. I was able to identify drastic habitat and temporal changes in the way reef mantas use these areas and, thus, enabled more effective conservation management practices.