Three Weeks Deep in Manta Summer 2017!
July 17th 2017 | Corey
We started off the morning sending some of our team members to help out at the local sea turtle sanctuary where they give information to tourists and answer any questions about the turtles that people may have. The main objective of the day was to look at all of the footage from our exciting day with the mantas over the weekend! To do this, we analyze the videos and pictures that were collected by the team, to point out any specific behavior, sex of the manta, distinguishing features, and of course, the ID. Each manta has a unique spot pattern on their belly and a picture of this pattern can be used to individually identify them. We had a lot of footage to go through but at the end of it all, we ended up adding some new individuals to the database for the Mexico Caribbean project!
Some of our team members ended the day with some excitement on the beach as they were lucky enough to witness 3 green sea turtles come up onto the beach to lay eggs! They helped monitor the activity of the nesting turtles and surrounding tourists and collect the eggs to be taken to the turtle sanctuary for better protection.
July 18th 2017 | Claudia
We had a pretty relaxed morning and were working on our individual tasks we had, to help the project. Later in the day our marine debris survey team for the week went to different dive shops to receive information about the local marine debris. After that in the late afternoon one of our teammates, Andrelli, gave us a talk about how to analyze satellite maps and where we can find them. Today an artist that is working for Pangeaseed, a project dedicated to bring ocean awareness through art, came to start a mural at the local sea turtle sanctuary, Tortugranja.
July 19th 2017 | Corey
Field trip day! We started off the day heading out in search of more mantas and had experienced rougher seas than usual. We saw plenty of whale sharks in the water (and a couple of dolphins) but unfortunately, no mantas today. With the absence of mantas, we can analyze the data we collected on the different environmental conditions and compare them to the data collected from our manta filled day. By this comparison, hopefully it can help us to better understand the different preferences of our beloved mantas and further our knowledge about them.
July 20th 2017 | Claudia
A part of the volunteers went in the morning to Tortugranja where they were giving information about turtles and the turtle sanctuary itself to tourists. This day tourist and the volunteers could see some new born sea turtles which hatched in the morning. Tortugranja kept the hatchlings during the day in a pool where tourist could observe them. During the night they got released at the same beach where those eggs were found. In the afternoon the volunteers were working on different tasks. Later on in the afternoon the whole team of Mexico Caribbean Manta team went to Tortugranja where they were impressed about the mural that was painted by José Luis. The mural included paintings of manta rays, sea turtles, and corals.
To celebrate this absolutely amazing artwork the Mexico Caribbean Manta team, Deli, the manager of Tortugranja, Tre’ Packard, the founder of PangeaSeed, Akira Biondo, the director of Operations, and José Luis went out for dinner. Later that evening some of the volunteers headed out to the beach to look for any nesting turtles where they saw one sea turtle come up onto the beach but unfortunately did not lay a nest.
July 21st 2017 | Corey
There was not much on the agenda for today so we spent the day working on our individual tasks and catching up on some work. We had a meeting to discuss activities for an educational outreach program about ocean awareness, with a kids summer camp program that we will be participating in next week. We plan on giving them a presentation about why the ocean is important, the local species, and playing some fun, ocean-themed games! Later in the afternoon, our marine debris survey team went out to a couple tourist offices to conduct surveys about the local marine debris. The rest of the day was spent inputting data and working on some crafts for our upcoming day with the kids.
July 22nd 2017 | Claudia
Today we had great weather conditions for our field trip. The sea was really flat and it was a beautiful sunny day. As soon as we arrived at our “Green Water” destination we spotted several whale sharks, chilling out on the surface. Then suddenly our beloved mantas began to show themselves, much to the excitement of everyone on board. It was the first field trip for us to find mantas in “Green Water”. Some of the volunteers were lucky enough to experience swimming with a manta ray and whale shark at the same time. It is a really magical encounter!!! Some of the team also had the chance to see some mobula rays in the water! During our trip we tried to get ID pictures of the mantas, took CTD measurements several times (Salinity, Temperature, Depth), took a microplastic sample with the manta trawl and took several GPS positions and wrote the weather conditions and down on a paper. We ended our day with participating a talk from Dr. Chris Rohner, whale shark researcher from Megafauna, who gave a presentation about the giant plankton feeders he was researching on in different regions of the world.