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Ocean Health

Project Manta Ningaloo Reef

Snorkel and dive in the waters of Coral Bay to help protect the habitat of manta rays and reef sharks.


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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Relatively little is known about most aspects of mantas' biology, ecology, or numbers.

In Australia, manta rays occur in shallow water and are a common sight to swimmers, snorkelers, and divers. Yet despite increasing research efforts around the country we don't know much about them. Mantas and Sharks of Ningaloo Reef is rectifying this by engaging scientists, industry, and the public in a study that will increase our knowledge of the species, generate economic and social benefits, and provide a basis for long-term monitoring of the manta's environment.

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Blue chromis fish swimming in the coral

Its global distribution and easily identified shape make the manta ray an excellent indicator species by which to monitor the effects of environmental change on our oceans and reefs. Global warming has caused marked changes in oceanic conditions, including water temperature, current patterns, and acidification—all of which may have dramatic consequences for mantas and the reefs on which they depend. Correlating data on manta distribution and movements with large-scale oceanographic changes will help scientists monitor global oceanic health.

The unique situation at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, where manta rays have a high degree of residence allows us to take a whole of ecosystem approach to the research, combining monitoring of manta rays with surveys of reef resident fish and other large elasmobranchs such as black tip reef sharks and benthic rays.

About the research area

Coral Bay, Western Australia, Australia, Australia & South Pacific

Daily life in the field

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The Scientists

MEET THE LEAD SCIENTIST

Frazer
McGregor
Ecologist, Murdoch University

ABOUT Frazer McGregor

Frazer McGregor has been a tour guide and skipper for 10 of his 15 years in Coral Bay, and has spent the last 9 completing a PhD in marine ecology at Murdoch University. Frazer’s thesis has been instrumental in the implementation of the Manta Ray Identification catalogue. His research has collected data on almost 800 different manta rays that visitors have the opportunity to interact with. His studies have provided key baseline information on all aspects of manta ray ecology within Ningaloo reef including population ecology, foraging ecology and localised movements.

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