Manta rays: Gentle giants of the ocean

By Shelley Dempsey | June 19, 2013

See fantastic images from a census of manta rays at Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

WHEELING AND WINGING THROUGH their underwater realm, manta rays – which were little known until recently – are majestic and mysterious.

Now, the first census of mantas off Australia’s east coast has found the population is much larger than scientists originally thought.

The University of Queensland’s Project Manta is studying these giants, which can reach up to 7m across and 2 tonnes in weight. “Our main study site is Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef, where it was first estimated there were about 40 of them,” says Dr Kathy Townsend, one of the lead scientists.

“But we have now identified more than 715 individuals [here and along Australia’s east coast] and the database is growing.”

Read the full article in issue 115 (Jul/Aug) of the Australian Geographic journal.

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