Project Manta

Research to better understand and conserve our marine environment and to provide tangible international economic, social and cultural benefits.


Mike Bennett (School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland)


Kathy Townsend, Anthony Richardson, Christine Dudgeon, Jennifer Ovenden, Graeme Hays, Mike van Keulen, Frazer McGregor, Lydie Couturier, Fabrice Jaines, Michelle Ooi, Shannon McGrellis, Jessica Smith, Amelia Armstrong and Asia Armstrong

Funding body

Funded as a Linkage Project by the Australian Research Council (LP1501006690) to the University of Queensland. The partner organisations are Austral Fisheries P/L, Earthwatch Institute, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Ningaloo Marine Interactions and the TG Kailis Marine Conservation Fund.


The project aims to answer key questions about the biology, ecology and sustainability of the world’s manta ray species and determine the likely impact of climate variability and fisheries that operate to Australia’s north on manta-based ecotourism in the Indo-Pacific region. The study addresses a significant problem as active low-value fisheries jeopardise a high-value ecotourism industry.

We are using genetics-based approaches, photo-identification, satellite tracking and modelling to produce estimates of population connectivity and size within Australia and between Australia and its northern neighbours, as a key step towards conservation and population management.

As part of the research program, divers are asked to volunteer as ‘citizen scientists’. Volunteer divers take photographs of the underside of manta rays and upload them to the project’s Facebook page. The photographs provide vital information about manta ray populations. People interested in taking part should contact or visit Project Manta on Facebook. The underside of a manta ray is highly patterned and each one is unique. This allows individuals to be identified so their movements can be monitored.

Project Manta website

Click here.


January, 2017

Project photo

Credit: Amelia Armstrong

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