Population structure of manta rays in Zavora, Mozambique

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Manta Rays are the biggest rays in the world. Recently the genus Manta, that was historically considered monotypic, was clearly divided into two different species, Manta birostris and Manta alfredi . In Zavora, Manta alfredi is the most abundant, however both species can be seen all year around. Despite of this, little is known about their population. Manta rays have a unique spot pattern on their belly and between their gills, which make it possible to identify individuals. Using photo identification through SCUBA as well as the Manta ID software, we can identify individuals and obtain population estimates. Furthermore, by recording physical conditions during each of our sightings, we aim to determine which environmental variables may be effecting their abundance. Therefore our research questions are 1) What is the structure of the manta ray population in Zavora, Mozambique? and 2) What is the abundance of manta rays over the years and what variables might affect such abundance? Our research aims to raise knowledge about Zavora’s manta population and assist with the conservation of these massive rays.
Open water diver (Advanced open water is recommended)
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Yara Tibricia (Founder of Zavora Marine Lab and PhD candidate at the University of Cadiz)
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Reference Number: RP-48561