The Ningaloo Reef is home to a large resident population of graceful manta rays. To date, over 800 individual mantas have been identified in and around Coral Bay using the unique dot patterns found on the belly of each manta ray. In conjunction with Project Manta and The University of Queensland, this identification program has now been expanded to include the northern part of the Ningaloo Reef, around Exmouth.
To commemorate this, the Exmouth Visitor Centre and Project Manta are asking the public to name the 50th manta ray identified as part of Project Manta. The winning entry will win two tour tickets to swim with Ningaloo manta rays thanks to Coral Bay Eco Tours.
Project Manta seeks to examine how environmental factors affect the movements of manta rays, both within known hot spots such as the Ningaloo Reef and right throughout northern Australia. An understanding of why manta rays occupy particular sites at particular times is important, especially in the face of climate change.
Project Manta also encourages citizens to contribute to this research by submitting any photos taken of manta rays they see throughout the Ningaloo region. The unique spot pattern on a manta ray’s belly is like a fingerprint, so a photo of the underside of a manta allows the research team to cross reference their existing database and determine if it is a new or previously identified Ningaloo manta ray.
The 50th individual manta ray identified as part of Project Manta’s northern Ningaloo Reef expansion was a female ray that was part of a large feeding aggregation of mantas which took place inside Exmouth Gulf in October 2016. During this aggregation, spotter plane pilots reported seeing more than 100 manta rays swimming and feeding within an area of just a few kilometres of coast, close to shore near the Exmouth township.
Exmouth Visitor Centre manager, Kristy Bryan-Smith said the Ningaloo Reef and in particular Coral Bay is one of very few places in the world that is home to a resident population of manta rays.
“Because of the large resident population of manta rays, tours to swim with these huge, but completely harmless and very playful creatures are available every day of the year out of Coral Bay” Ms Bryan-Smith said.
“Snorkelling with a Ningaloo Reef manta ray is an unforgettable experience, as these rays are known for their love of interacting with swimmers.”
To enter the Exmouth Visitor Centre/Project Manta Name a Ningaloo Manta Ray competition, simply email your favourite name to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The winning entry will be announced on the Exmouth Visitor Centre’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/exmouthvisitor/ on February 28.
For more information on Ningaloo manta rays, contact the Exmouth Visitor Centre on Ph: 08 9949 1176 or email: email@example.com.
The 50th manta ray identified under Project Manta’s northern Ningaloo Reef expansion.
Swimming with a Ningaloo Reef manta ray. Image by Janine Marx.
For hi-res images, further information or interviews, please contact:
Ben Knaggs | Membership & Communications Coordinator | Exmouth Visitor Centre
Ph: (08) 9949 1176 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort, Madaffari Drive, Exmouth WA 6707 +61 8 9949 0000