Why have you chosen to study manta rays?
Manta rays captivate you and get you on their side the first time you manage a one on one encounter with them. Knowing they have threats that we as humans generate is upsetting. Knowing they play a key role in the health of their reefs and that our actions jeopardize that connection is more upsetting. I chose to study manta rays to gain the knowledge to protect that connection through education and appropriate management.
What do you enjoy about working in Ningaloo?
When you enter the waters of Ningaloo you genuinely feel like you've entered a 270km long marine aquarium, only there are no glass walls, it’s so healthy the megafauna choose to stay or make regular visits. It's jam-packed with so much biodiversity that the whole system is alive and flourishing whilst similar reefs are not. As a researcher who lives at their study site I get to observe the reef and its moods 24/7, 4 seasons of the year, after 15 years I still go out every day excited about what i might see and learn. What’s not to enjoy about working on Ningaloo Reef.
What is your favorite moment in the field?
Just one huh? ok...Whilst doing routine photo id snorkelling on looping mantas a large female entangling in fishing line constantly 'fell' backwards allowing me to untangle and remove the line over the space of a half hour. When done she continued on feeding unaware of the high fives and cheers by myself and a colleague at the surface. It was pre social media so it was between the three of us!