Big Animal Research

_DSC4527 Julie Hartup is back on island for Thanksgiving week, more manta research and data collecting as well as some general yapping around.

The Manta Ray Bay helps this project with daily ID shots and maintaining a manta interaction logbook.

Each time a manta is encountered on a dive, if possible, an ID shot is snapped and mental notes are taken for the logbook. Recording their behavior and any noticeable status; recent injuries, pregnancy, etc.

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Conservation

As part of Julie’s research she assists Yap state by offering her understanding of our Mantas that will help guide the legislation protecting them.

This week the Yap State EPA and the Department of R&D held their first meeting on drafting the regulations of the original 2008 manta ray sanctuary law with some legal assistance from the Australian government.

The more we know, the better we can turn things in their favor.

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_DSC4617 Julie made it her lifestyle to uncover the lives of south Pacific mantas.

This week in Yap she brought her para-laser gear to track sizes and show growth of mantas already in her database as well as record new animals.

One of her favorite sightings is a juvenile manta that she’s still trying to determine the gender of.

Last year she first recorded a baby manta, and it appeared again this week in her media log – a good sign for the Yap manta population.

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Unmanned Monitoring

One of the many research questions is what the dive site looks like when nobody’s diving there.

Part of the week’s dive plan included the drop-off and pick-up of strategically placed action cameras mounted on dive weights in the lagoon.

The main cleaning station, the old cleaning station, the main channel’s ridge and a couple of “this looks like a good spot” locations were all under a watchful eye.

Over eight hours of footage per day are coming off of the reef. Some of it shows the exact same thing; cleaning mantas, a turtle, fish… but the camera on the ridge brought back a surprise.

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Something Discovered

The interesting media discovery was grey reefs in big numbers with fresh mating cuts in the channel – another Yap diving awesomeness indicator.

For a researcher, that’s all good news.

Baby mantas being cleaned in the lagoon and mating grey reefs in the channel.

It appears that the big animalness of diving this island is on the up and up.

Out on the reef it shows, multiple animals are coming in and we’re seeing mating trains enter and leave the channel. It starts now and will continue until next summer, it’s mantas just over head, everyday.

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