Become a ‘manta scientist for a day’ in UNESCO accredited waters
Maldives.net.mv – Guests visiting Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru between May and November now have the opportunity to become a “Manta Scientist for a Day,” thanks to a unique experience devised in conjunction with The Manta Trust.
Since 2006 the Resort has been home to the Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP) – the founding project of The Manta Trust, the world’s leading manta ray charity. Nearly every day during manta season, the project’s scientists embark on study cruises to known aggregation sites in the surrounding Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere. To date, the project has identified more than 3,300 individual manta rays from more than 25,000 sightings in the Maldives, helping to unravel some of the global mysteries surrounding the population size, migratory routes and life history strategies of these elusive oceanic residents.
Guests are warmly invited to join the scientists on board. Viewed very much as part of the team, participants will discover how to spot manta rays and whale sharks in the water; help record critical environmental information; learn how to take ID photos; join in the identification process; and improve their free-diving technique. They may even get the chance to name a previously unseen manta, forever adding their mark to the world’s largest manta ray database.
Baa Atoll is one of the world’s best locations for manta rays and whale sharks sightings. Between May and November, these gentle giants flock to the area in large numbers to feed on plankton swept in by seasonal tides. Guests of Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru can also sign up for Manta on Call – an exciting snorkelling experience that sees them whisked out to sea to swim with mantas – as well as private manta ray cruises.
MMRP’s Project Manager Niv Froman comments: “Snorkelling with manta rays is one thing, but nothing beats the thrill of seeking and spotting them in the vastness of Baa Atoll aiming to unravel some of their life’s mysteries. While learning more about mantas, a day as a scientist truly creates a profound and intimate connection with these animals. Guests often say how exciting, enriching and unforgettable they find the whole experience.”
In addition to collecting data on the manta rays it encounters, the MMRP also studies environmental and climatic factors, as well as tourism and human interactions. Since 2006, its pioneering research has contributed vital knowledge to global conservation efforts – including the 2013 breakthrough listing of mantas on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).