We’re so proud to have been involved in the creation of the West Manggarai Manta Ray and Shark Sanctuary. This ground breaking announcement was made on 24th August after many long months of campaigning the local and national government.
We worked alongside MantaWatch to provide data to support this proposal. Much of this data came from you, our guests, in the form of ID photographs and also financial information that allowed us to put a price on how much mantas are worth to the area.
The whole dive community in Labuan Bajo played a huge part in petitioning the government to show them that mantas count, for the whole tourism industry.
The new sanctuary prohibits fishing for manta rays, sharks, and other threatened species including turtles and Napoleon wrasse, throughout the district’s 7,000km2 waters that extend up to 12 nautical miles offshore.
Read more: Indonesia creates new 7,000km2 manta ray sanctuary - MantaWatch
Where does your data go?Thank you to all of those guests who kindly gave us you ID shots of manta rays this year. We distribute these as widely as we can, currently to 3 major manta ray conservation agencies:
· Manta Trust
· Manta Matcher
Here’s some feedback that we have received from these organisations:
“I have to say a huge congratulations and thank you to the Wicked team for these incredible trips you run and the impact you have on people...you are awesome!” Sarah Lewis, Founder/Principal Scientist | Indonesian Manta Project and Project Leader Indonesia | Manta Trust
“I think it is very admirable that your organization or any organization wants to participate in citizen science. Manta Matcher is a great way for the public to get involved and engage in conservation by helping with research efforts while they are on holiday.” Dr Andrea Marshall, Marine Megafauna Foundation
So, what did we learn this year?This year, thanks to all of our guests, we collected lots of useful data.
We received ID shots of 50 individual manta rays! As Wicked Diving’s guides do not take cameras on their dives, we can only do this with the support of our guests, so thanks to everyone who shared their photos with us.
We logged data on over 60 separate dives at manta ray hotspots. Not only that but we saw some very interesting behaviour – feeding and cleaning was common place, but we also had many instances of manta courtship, some lucky divers getting right in the middle of this mating ritual. Additionally particularly earlier in the season, we saw a lot of manta breaching, which is a truly special sight. On some dives, guests and guides even watched mantas breaching the surface continually as they sat at 7m underwater! Pretty breathtaking stuff.
We certified 95 divers as SSI Manta Ray Divers. This is a unique specialty to Wicked Diving, written in-house by our instructor team. To all of those who joined this unique club this year – congratulations!
Events: Mantap Mantas = Awesome Mantas!We’ve been holding bi-monthly educational talks in town to help speak to the visitors to this area and raise awareness of the plight of the manta ray.
The feedback that we have had from all of you is that not many people are aware of the Gill Raker Trade that currently threatensmanta rays.
We hope, that through this, we can continue to great momentum in the fight for the manta rays, and share some fun facts also.
If you have any friends and family visiting the area, please ask them to join us.
You can read more about these talks on the Flores Tourism website - http://www.florestourism.com/news/ray-hope-mantas
Coming soon to Wicked Diving Komodo
Friend of Wicked, Photographer and Designer, Lia Barrett, has designed a beautiful t-shirt for Wicked Diving and The Manta Trust.
Proceeds from all the sales will be given directly to The Manta Trust to support their ongoing research and education programme.
You can check out the design on Lia’s website (and look for some other incredible designs too, all of which come directly from her photos). It’s so cute.
We are finalising the first batch right now and can’t wait for them to arrive so we can not only look cool, but also support a fantastic charity.
What’s next?We will continue our Manta Ray Research & Education trips next year in Komodo. In addition, we continue to support The Manta Trust and also The Misool Manta Project during our season in Raja Ampat this year.
We will submit all sightings data to The Misool Manta Project and hope for some interesting findings. Did you currently know that there is no crossover between the manta ray populations in the North and the South of Raja Ampat?
On a more artistic note, we hope to work with volunteers from local NGO, Support International, to make a giant bamboo manta out of recycled materials. We want to use this to create a float a drive around town on our magic manta to publicise our talk and to raise more local awareness about manta protection! As soon as we have photos, we’ll be sure to share on the Wicked Diving Facebook page.
-Wicked Diving Komodo