Oct 2017

Manta Matcher – Citizen Science Conservation

By Etoile 

Did you know you can directly contribute to Manta ray conservation just by taking a photo of a manta ray during your dive? Yup, its true! No professional science training or qualification needed! In fact, regular people play a huge role in Manta conservation worldwide – all you need to do is just take a photo and upload it to Manta Matcher!

Manta Matcher is a global online database of manta sightings worldwide. Every manta ray has a unique pattern of markings and spots on its underbelly. This unique pattern is similar to a fingerprint and allows individual mantas to be identified, recognized and tracked. Scientists have come up with an algorithm similar to the one NASA uses to map stars, to identify manta ray individuals using these unique markings.

To contribute to this growing online database of manta sighting worldwide, you just need to take a photo of a Manta’s underbelly. The picture needs to show the unique spotting pattern clearly. If you are SCUBA diving, this is relatively easy, as mantas are quite inquisitive and will often come and swim right on top of you! By staying stationary and placing yourself directly below a manta ray, you are lining yourself up to be in the perfect spot to take an excellent manta ID photo. Once you have your identification photo, you can go straight to www.mantamatcher.org and upload the photo directly onto their database.

manta-ray-markings

Even if you don’t have professional UW camera equipment, any photo can be uploaded onto the database as long as the spots can be clearly identified. You can even upload frame grabs from a video. Each contribution is significant. Even if you only manage to capture and upload single manta ID photo during your dive holiday, you’re helping contribute to manta research and conservation efforts worldwide.

Once an individual Manta ray is identified and put into the worldwide catalog of sightings, scientists are able track this individuals movements, monitor population trends, better understand manta migration, assess threats to the species and focus on developing more efficient management and conservation plans.. How cool!

Whats even cooler is that if you supply Manta Matcher with your email, they will notify you if your specific Manta has been spotted again anywhere in the world!

So next time you find yourself diving or snorkeling with manta rays and a camera in hand, be sure to try and take manta ID photo.

‘Manta Matcher – Citizen Science Conservation’ was written by Etoile. Read more interesting articles by Etoile at www.GoingEpicPlaces.com.

Photo credit: MantaMatcher & US Dive Travel

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Etoile 

My name is Etoile Smulders and diving is my all consuming passion! I was born in Hong Kong and raised in mainland China and Thailand by a French mother and a Dutch father. My multicultural upbringing has provided me with a passion to explore, travel and ultimately understand and connect our world.

A self-professed ocean junkie, I learned to dive at age 10 and never stopped. I spent my entire childhood exploring the underwater world of South East Asia. Twelve years and around a thousand dives later, I am now a fully qualified PADI master scuba diver trainer, technical rebreather and full cave diver. I have been involved in various technical diving expeditions in South East Asia in efforts to explore new habitats and remote locations. Currently I dive professionally and for fun.

I have a passion for finding and telling ocean stories! I am an interdisciplinary journailst with a true lust for our underwater world. I use photography and videography as a conservation weapon to create awareness for the marine related issues I am passionate about. I am committed to linking science with storytelling to inspire change.

Diving Qualifications:

PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
IANTD Normoxic Trimix Rebreather Diver
TDI Full Cave Diver
TDI Advanced Wreck Diver
TDI Trimix Gas Blender
SSI Level II Freediver

Dream Dive Locations:
Darwin + Wolf Island, Galapagos
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Any new and unexplored cave

Check out Etoiles website here: Going Epic Places