Very little is known about manta populations around the South Pacific Islands. With further research into their abundance and distinctive populations, we can use mantas as an indicator species to assess the effects of large scale environmental factors, such as climate change and El Niño, on the marine environment. As tourism continues to grow around Fiji, sharks and rays are increasingly becoming big business. Due to the relatively low abundance of mantas, the key manta aggregation sites are targeted by tourist operators in greater numbers. We hope that research into manta populations, ecology, and migratory habits will allow us to make informed and effective management recommendations at these key aggregation areas, helping to promote responsible and sustainable tourism.
In conjunction with the Manta Trust (one of the world leaders in manta ray conservation and research), our dedicated team leads practical and applicable research into the population, behaviors, and habitat of the manta rays that aggregate in the channel between Naviti and Drawaqa Islands. This research is pivotal to ensuring numbers of manta rays and other indigenous species are sustained, and it informs the rules and regulations we impose in order to allow guests and other visitors to learn about them. It also dictates how we educate local communities about how these ecosystems can be better protected. The benefits of sustained sightings are exponential for both our communities and the environment: in turn, they attract higher levels of visitors – helping to increase local community revenues and prospects – and therefore help improve the livelihoods of the local people for generations to come.