Manta Mania 2018

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.

Julie Hartup

Project Leader, Manta Trust
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“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.”


Mark Deakos

President, Founder, Chief Scientist – HAMER
Mark Deakos
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.


Sonia Rowley

Chief Science Officer, Association for Marine Exploration
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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.


Roxanna Miller

Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program
Roxanna
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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