On the Expedition
Collect valuable data on the world's largest ray, to protect the species against rising threats to its long-term health.
Since individual manta rays can be identified by the unique patterns found on their underside, an online resource, the Manta Identification Database, is being developed that will allow divers and snorkelers to contribute photographs. Choose to join this project, and you’ll take and process photos of manta rays for the database, comparing new images with existing ones in order to identify individual manta rays.
Contributing to a study of manta feeding habits, assisting with plankton sampling and analysis from a series of plankton tows at dive sites and offshore, you may also take part in filming manta rays for an ongoing behavioral study - observing mantas interacting with cleaner fish at cleaning stations and mapping reef.
The information you gather will contribute to a database that is now emerging as the best available data source for this incredibly vulnerable species. One which can be used to significantly improve species and habitat management plans. Government agencies, conservation groups and commercial operators will turn to Project Manta and the work that you do to determine how best to protect threatened manta populations, and increase opportunities for sustainable ecotourism as an alternative to hunting.
Meals and Accommodations
You’ll stay in four person permanent tents, with wooden floors and meshed windows, on Lady Elliot Island. Each tent is comfortably fitted out with two sets of bunk beds, a bedside table, a wooden wardrobe, wall-mounted fan, mirror and ceiling light. Accommodation for couples may be available, depending on team size and composition, and may incur an extra cost. Sheets, a pillow and a bath towel are provided, and blankets are available if required. There are several toilet blocks on the island with hot water available throughout the day.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all buffet style; the range of choices is vast and the food is delicious. Continental or hot breakfast options are followed by lunches consisting of salads, pasta, chicken or fish and fresh fruit. Dinner might consist of steak, fish, chicken, pasta, or vegetarian quiche; and there is often soup and a choice of dessert options. Filtered water, tea and coffee are available all day. Additional drinks or snacks are available from the bar at volunteers’ own expense.
About the Research Area
Lady Elliot Island is located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and has the highest possible conservation classification, that of Marine National Park Zone.
The island is a coral atoll which first appeared above sea level 3500 years ago. Sea birds bringing guano and seeds helped establish vegetation on the island. The island was mined for guano for a decade in the 1860s. Apart from eight Pisonia trees that still remain standing, all other vegetation and a metre of surface soil was stripped off the island as a result of mining. In an attempt to help stranded sailors, the Queensland Government decided to place goats on each of the Great Barrier Reef Islands, which resulted in no re-growth of vegetation on the island until the late 1960s. In 1969 Mr. Don Adams, a keen aviator, arrived on Lady Elliot Island and started a re-vegetation program using seeds of native plants collected from nearby Great Barrier Reef Islands and the mainland, which transformed the island into the beautiful wildlife sanctuary that it is today.
Lady Elliot Island is only one of six island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef, and is teeming with life from sea turtles which hatch on the island, dolphins, a large number of coral and fish to a variety of birds nesting on the island. Humpback whales pass nearby during the migration season and there is an unknown number of manta rays around the island.
The climate on Lady Elliot Island in June is cool and comfortable, with an average mean temperature of 18ºC and 90mm of rainfall. In December the climate is hotter and drier with an average temperature of 26ºC and 70mm of rain.
As Lady Elliot Island is a designated Marine Park, visitors are not permitted to collect or take away anything from the island. This includes shells and corals, dead or alive.