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Record Breaking Manta Count in the Hauraki Gulf

After last summer’s non-event we, Manta Watch NZ, had high hopes that this summer and our fourth year of dedicated research would hit the mark. So far El Niño has not disappointed and we are pleased to announce it’s been our biggest season yet, in every regard, and we’re only a couple of months in!

We’ve had huge citizen science traction and engagement, with over 100 sightings submitted between 1 – 13 January. The more settled weather has also enabled our team to maximise research outputs with several multiday expeditions and more on the way. We have now satellite tagged 11 manta rays, eight of which were deployed in one day on 27 December.

Getting the tags out nice and early in the season has yielded some fantastic results so far (see tag pings from one manta below). This manta has been utilising the inner gulf, spending the last month foraging very close to the mainland and throughout popular boating areas and shipping lanes. All this information is critical for establishing greater protections around such productive areas that support a wide range of species, including the globally endangered oceanic manta ray.

Project Achievements:

  • 11 Satellite Tags Deployed 
  • 325 Total Manta Sightings 
  • 257 Citizen Science Submissions
  • 68 Manta Watch NZ encounters
  • 55 Ventral (Belly) Photo IDs 
  • 60 Dorsal (Head) Photo IDs

Hauraki Gulf Highlights:

  • Double Breach Drone Capture
  • Removing fishing line from manta ray wing tip
  • Mantas feeding with whale sharks, devil rays and Brydes whale

You can submit your manta sightings, photos and videos by scanning the QR Code below or visit our website www.mantawatchnz.org.

See our full ‘Sightings and Data Collection Guide’ below to help us with our manta mahi!

Thank you for your amazing support.

Words by Manta Watch Project Lead – Lydia Green | All photo rights reserved by Manta WatchNZ

Listen to Lydia’s most recent interview on AoteaFM with Tim Higham here:

This Manta Watch NZ article was kindly supported by LegaSea:


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