Contribution starting at $2,950
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
7 days (avg. $421 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Ocean Health

Protecting Peru's Giant Manta Rays

Location
Zorritos, Tumbes, Peru Map it
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
Single Rooms possible
Couples Rooms possible
House
Internet access
Food
Chef-prepared meals
Special diets accommodated
Earthwatch volunteers collect water samples from a boat
Earthwatch volunteers snorkeling
Earthwatch volunteers put on their snorkel gear (C) Rolex - Francois Schaer
A volunteer snorkels with a giant manta ray (C) John McCarty
A stunning sunset along the coast (C) Shutterstock
Earthwatch volunteers paint a giant manta ray mural
A giant manta ray swims in the deep ocean (C) Getty Image - Martin Strmiska
Earthwatch volunteers collect water samples from a boat
Earthwatch volunteers snorkeling
Earthwatch volunteers put on their snorkel gear (C) Rolex - Francois Schaer
A volunteer snorkels with a giant manta ray (C) John McCarty
A stunning sunset along the coast (C) Shutterstock
Earthwatch volunteers paint a giant manta ray mural
A giant manta ray swims in the deep ocean (C) Getty Image - Martin Strmiska

Peru’s iconic giant manta rays face a variety of threats, such as fishery interactions and global climate change. To protect this vulnerable species, help researchers find answers to critical questions about their population dynamics and behavior.


An Earthwatch volunteer records data on a boat

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. With your help, researchers will be able to develop recommendations to help reduce bycatch and to help fishermen promote low-impact, community-based tourism centered on manta ray watching.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1 Meet, travel to field site
  • Days 2-6 Snorkel and monitor manta rays, collect plankton and genetic samples, survey marine megafauna, community engagement
  • Day 7 Departure

HOW YOU WILL HELP

When you arrive, the researchers will conduct an orientation and provide you with information on the species you will be studying. Field work includes some of the following tasks:
Earthwatch volunteers snorkel with giant manta rays (C) Kyle Hutton
Snorkel and monitor manta rays

report sightings from a boat and swim alongside giant mantas while collecting underwater videos and photographs as well as identifying individual rays by assessing their unique markings.

An Earthwatch volunteer collects plankton and genetic samples (C) Kyle Hutton
Collect plankton and genetic samples

Set nets for plankton sampling, conduct plankton hauls, and help collect tissue samples from manta rays at sea.

Earthwatch volunteers survey marine megafauna (C) Rolex - Francois Schaer
Survey marine megafauna

While out at sea, collect sightings of other marine megafauna, including whale sharks, dolphins, whales, and sea turtles—sightings that will help scientists gain a more full picture of these marine ecosystems.

This project is strongly supported by our work with the local community, so volunteers will also participate in community activities, such as visiting local artisans and schools.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

1 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Kenneth Dubuque | July 11, 2019
It was another great expedition: jumping in with snorkel gear in the ocean to try and get close to manta rays (while experienced divers were attempting to obtain skin samples) and collecting plankton with specialized nets. A hands-on tour of a lab which processes for DNA analysis was fascinating. A school visit where a manta-costumed scientist (aka Señorita Tiburon) did the now-famous-manta dance and we helped kids draw pictures of the rays; making sea shell key jewelry and painting mantas on rocks with local artisans; and working with Peruvian artists on a Planeta Oceano (our scientific partner) mural really connected us with the community. We learned a lot from the lead scientist Kerstin Forsberg and her team via presentations, videos, and patient question responses. The beach-front accommodations and food were quite good and our entire team had a lot of fun and were always engaged. My only criticism is that 7 days wasn't long enough. Thanks to all. This was my eleventh expedition and I've already signed up for another next year.

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