We're in Mexico for our Whale Shark Research & Photography trips - and we've seen a lot of whale sharks - but today was mostly about Manta Rays - dozens and dozens and dozens of them. One of these, about 4 metres from wing tip to wing tip, was heavily entangled in fishing line, cutting into its flesh and clamping its mouth from opening fully.
To the rescue: Dr Chris Rohner, our international research host and Principal Scientist from the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Chris, armed with a line cutter, swam to the manta and quickly cut the line from across its mouth. Trusting him, the manta then let him remove 3 hooks and disentangle the line. It was all over in 30 seconds, with a visibly happy manta swimming off into the distance.
It was the highlight to a great day, with mantas breaching so close to our research boat, that people onboard were splashed. In the water, trains of up to 13 mantas were chain feeding on fish eggs near the surface, each one stacked slightly above the one in front. Where concentrations of plankton were highest, mantas were barrel rolling, exposing their white underside which we are using to identify individuals on a global database.
For details about how to join us in Mexico in mid to late July next year visit:
Photographs courtesy of Dr Matthew Dryden, Dr Simon Pierce & Dr Chris Rohner