Here is our lineup of presenting scientists for our next Manta Mania citizen science event.
Come learn about sharks and rays while diving with big animals in a super size 16 dive special event week in Yap! Photo ID’s, special research dives and learning directly from today’s leading scientists on our big animals in Yap.
Project Leader, Manta Trust
“This is an rare opportunity for divers to dive with manta rays together with the scientists who study them. You’ll get to see the type of equipment we use, how we gather information and how its processed. We planned this event to take place during manta mating season, the most active time of year where close interaction with multiple animals is nearly assured – we are hoping to get a lot of valuable information. During the day you’ll dive with mantas and over the pristine reefs surrounding Yap, in the afternoon you’ll attend workshops to learn about megafauna, and in the evening you get to see pictures of these amazing animals. Not only will you be learning about mantas but also their very close relatives the mobula, sharks and other marine mammals. We hope everyone will come away from this experience awed by the ocean and its creatures with a deep appreciation for Yap and love for it’s people and culture.”
President, Founder, Chief Scientist – HAMER
Dr. Deakos has spent most of his entire life in the water, either as a competitive swimmer, water polo player, scuba diver and marine biologist. Originally from Canada, was fortunate to experience living in various countries around the globe during his early years. His chosen career working in wildlife biology and marine research is an extension of his passion for the natural world and his marvel for the ocean. After working with several avian and reptile species, his interests rapidly returned to the ocean and towards marine mammals, which eventually led him to Hawaii in 1996. At the University of Hawaii, he completed his master’s degree studying humpback whale behavior and continued his graduate work by completing his doctoral degree with a focus on manta ray ecology. In 2004, Dr. Deakos founded the Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER), a non-profit dedicated to protecting and preserving Hawaii’s manta rays. Over the past, over 430 distinct manta rays have been identified in Maui, the largest known in the United States, however sighting rates have dropped by over 90% in just the past decade. To help understand the reason for this rapid decline, HAMER is investigating habitat use using acoustic and satellite tags, stock structure and paternage using genetics, and age-class demographics and growth rates using paired-laser photogrammetry. An automated pattern-recognition software is being developed to match manta ray photos quickly and research continues to focus on ways to eliminate man-made threats to the mantas such as entanglement in fishing gear and impacts to their reef habitat through land-based sources of pollution.
Chief Science Officer, Association for Marine Exploration
Dr. Sonia J. Rowley is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawai'i, Research Associate at the Bishop Museum, and Chief Science Officer for the non-profit organization the Association for Marine Exploration. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Sir. David Attenborough Award for Fieldwork, and recently elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London.
Sonia specializes in the evolution and diversity of gorgonian (sea fan) octocorals, particularly across different depths throughout the Indo-Pacific. Sonia has >34 years diving and expedition experience around the globe, and integrates advances in closed circuit rebreather diving technology with a suite of analytical research tools for her work. She endeavours to share her research discoveries especially with the local communities throughout the Indo-Pacific to assist in reef conservation measures. Sonia is particularly delighted to be part of Manta Mania as it provides the opportunity to share her experiences and excitement of these magnificent animals, as well as the many fascinating creatures she encounters at depth.
Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program
Roxanna Miller has been living on Guam for the past 11.5 years and graduated with her Master's in Biology in 2011 from the University of Guam. Upon graduation, Miller worked for a small environmental consulting firm before she began working for the Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program as the Guam NOAA Coral Fellow. After her fellowship ended, she was the Guam Marine Invasive Species Coordinator for a short period before returning to the Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program as the Monitoring Technician in 2015. Since the birth of her second child in 2016 she has taken an leave of absence but remains one of Guam’s coral experts, remaining close to the ocean professional and personally as an avid paddler.
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Great first MARINE BIOLOGY WEEK at Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers!
During the 3-day Marine Biology Workshop “basic” we started with fishes, how to identify the families, their characteristics and ecological role. We also used a species list from The FishBase Project including 1070 fish species of Micronesia. Next day´s topic was coral reef ecology, the importance of coral reefs as centers of biodiversity, the overwhelming variety of different lifeforms and their manifold interrelations, as well as the today´s human threats to the reefs by climate change, overfishing, pollution and more.
Coral reefs play a fundamental role for humanity, not only in view of food production, coastal protection, livelihoods, but also as unique and fascinating habitats that have to be preserved.
During our dives we collected samples of sand, reef rock and plankton and investigated them under stereomicroskopes. Wow! – even the sand represents a fascinating microcosm, with stunning organisms whose habitat is firstly determined by currents, sedimentation and therefore the grain size of sand – and of course food supply. Here comes the mangroves and sea grass beds which provide a constant supply of organic matter… Thus, we also made a kayak tour deep inside the mangroves – including snorkeling, of course! The mangroves are an unique ecosystem with multiple important functions and there is a very interesting transition to the adjacent habitats, e.g. seagrass beds, the sandy bottom of the lagoons and the coral reef. We found the shy Archer fish and various other fish, corals, invertebrates and algae living within the mangroves and sea grass beds.
After those investigations of the “small stuff” (we should actually reconsider it as “basic stuff”…) we went to the dive site “Vertigo”. Fortunately, nobody experienced `vertigo´, but for the whole dive we had roughly 25 sharks around us. Mainly Blacktip – and Grey Reef Sharks, but occasionally a Whitetip Reef Shark passed along the deeper reef slope. In between, Two-spot Red Snappers and nearby, two Napoleon Wrasses, groupers, jacks and other “big stuff”.
Well, the Mantas appeared to be sufficiently cleaned, thus there was no need to visit the cleaning station at Goofnuw channel… or they were at Mil´ channel while we were hanging around Goofnuw…
In the evenings we had two presentations about “Coral Reef Ecology” and “Corals – the architects of the reefs”, as well as two nightdives. Here, we observed all those invertebrates which are hiding during the day from their predators which were sleeping, then, until dawn… The coral polyps were fully expanded and actively feeding on zooplankton that was swirling in the water column (actually those small creatures tried to invade our ears…)
One of these dives was a fluorescence nightdive with blue light lamps and yellow mask filters – all corals were glowing predominantly in green, but also in blue, red and even violet!
While the 2-day Coral ID workshop, we intensively dealt with corals and the method of coral ID down to genus level along the #Indopacific Coral Finder authored by Russell Kelley / BYOGUIDES , founder of the Coral Identification Capacity Building Program (CICBP). We took a closer look at their biology, on the process of reef building as well as impacts e.g. coral bleaching, sedimentation, overfertilization, various feeding scars … After being empowered to distinguish the different corals under water, the eye was ready to notice their specific occurrence in the different zones of the reefs, from the deep slopes of the outer reef, over the reef flat straight into the lagoons, while some tough species made it as far as to the mangroves…
Finally, on the last day we gave a small presentation about the outcome of our course to all guests on the restaurant ship “Mnuw”. We beamed some pictures from the workshop on the whiteboard and our Reef Illustration with the fish species we had observed during these 5 days was displayed in the hotel foyer.
A big THANK YOU to all very active and motivated participants (you we´re really great!!), to the top guides from @YapDivers and the excellent support, infrastructure and logistics of the MRBR staff!
Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers earned Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Award 2017 as well as a 6/6 rating on Holiday Check and was just given a SCUBA Diving Magazine Reader’s Choice Award 2018 at DEMA.
Plan your “Big and Small” exotic dive trip combining Yap and the Philippines. Dive Marine Parks in both countries and experience some of the world’s most consistent big animal diving and the magic of macro in the Philippines – in one trip – check out the package >
Two weeks and 20 dives with Aiyanar Beach Resort in Anilao and Manta Ray Bay Resort in Yap offering standard and deluxe accommodations, fusion cuisine as well as a full service resort spa.
Ask us for flight help! We will send you itineraries that combine both countries using your departure airport and email address, it’s FREE and only takes a couple of minutes.
November 12th – November 26th is Marine Biology Weeks in Yap!
Learn coral identification and all about reef ecosystems in a two week dive package in Yap, with Stephan Moldzio from Greencorals.de.
We are going to learn about marine ecology as well as the climate system, global material cycles as well as environmental protection throughout the dive package.
Expect to collect samples, perform laboratory sessions and experience the marine environment in an eco-adventure vacation package designed for everybody, ages 6 and up, as well as nature lovers.
Dive with a Purpose!
Marine Biology Weeks is an event that is the start of a long-term reef monitoring program that can help preserve our diving environment.
Dive with professional biologists and like-minded travelers this November – FREE online Flight Help tool is available for your planning.
Our 2017 DEMA Specials are out!
- 10 paid / 3 FREE
- 10% off dive packages (low season) 2018
- 10% off MantaFest 2018
- Yap + Ocean Hunter, Palau
Visit Booth #1044 @ DEMA
Check us out at DEMA, we’re in the Micronesia section, here…
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