The giant manta ray is the largest ray and one of the largest fishes in the world—it can grow up to 23 feet wingtip-to-wingtip and weigh up to 3,000 pounds. But little is known about the population dynamics of these rays in the waters off the Peruvian coast.
Scientists need to observe manta rays in order to better understand what they need for survival. What are these mantas doing in Peruvian waters? Where are they feeding? Which habitats are critical for their survival? The answers to these questions will help to develop further protections for this species. And that’s where Earthwatch volunteers come in.
Join scientists and venture off the sandy beaches of Peru’s northern coast as you monitor this highly vulnerable species. Volunteers will have the chance to snorkel alongside these beautiful behemoths as they photograph individual mantas, document markers such as scars, take measurements, and assist scientists in collecting genetic samples. This information will help researchers to learn where and how manta rays migrate in order to better understand the connectivity that may exist between populations.
While at sea, volunteers will also document seabirds and marine megafauna—whale sharks, dolphins, humpback whales, and sea turtles—that can help to give scientists a more complete picture of the larger ecosystem that these giants are a part of.