The Future Of A Rare Manta Nursery Is At Risk From Tourists And Fishers

Source: Phys.org/Murdoch University

Photo: Sebastian Pena Lambarri/Unsplash

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Two manta ray hotspots in waters near Bali identified in new research as vital habitats for the threatened species, could be at risk from unregulated tourism and small scale/ artisanal fishing.

Both areas, in waters off the island of Nusa Penida, are increasingly frequented by tourism operators potentially putting the manta populations under pressure.

The new study, led by Murdoch University and Marine Megafauna Foundation Ph.D. student Elitza Germanov, found one hotspot – known as Manta Bay—was frequented by juvenile male mantas looking for food, suggesting the area is a nursery for the threatened species.

The researchers also found mature males and females congregating in  at Manta Point, 12 km from Manta Bay, where the large creatures were observed visiting cleaning stations and engaging in courtship displays during the mating season (which peaks in May).

Ms Germanov said that while mantas are protected in Indonesia, there are few regulations in place to manage the growing tourism industry. The number of boats allowed to enter manta ray habitats is not limited and codes of conduct for manta ray interactions are voluntary.

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Photo: Sebastian Pena Lambarri/Unsplash

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