Project Manta aims | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Project Manta aims

What is Project Manta trying to achieve?

Based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Project Manta is bringing together scientists, industry partners and the general public to establish important baseline data of manta rays and their relatives.

When Project Manta first began, manta rays were not protected in Australian waters because there was so little known about them that they were considered ‘Data Deficient’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Now, due to the work of Project Manta and that of our international colleagues, there is a better understanding of population sizes and trends to inform their listings as ‘Vulnerable’ for reef manta rays and ‘Endangered’ for oceanic manta rays. Such listings have resulted in manta rays being included in the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), affording them some protection in Australian waters.

But there's still much more work to be done. The research being conducted as part of Project Manta aims to contribute to the long-term conservation of manta rays and their relatives.

Our research approaches aim to:
  • investigate connectivity and movement between populations of manta rays within Australia and neighbouring regions,
  • generate accurate estimates of population size,
  • understand key biological and environmental drivers of population dynamics, and
  • use this information to provide management recommendations for the conservation of manta ray populations.
Pink coloured manta ray swimming
Photo credit: Kristian Laine
Become a manta hero

The general public is contributing significantly to the success of Project Manta. Become a citizen scientist by sharing your manta ray photos and videos.

Did you know?

There are currently two recognised species of manta ray. The reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi) and the oceanic manta ray (Mobula birostris). Both species are big animals that can reach wingspans of five to seven metres.

In Australian waters, reef manta rays are found from Shark Bay in Western Australia, around northern Australia, to central NSW in eastern Australia. Oceanic manta rays on the other hand, have a much patchier distribution. This is an example of something we hope to learn much more about.

Manta ray swimming with fish
Photo credit: Tracy Olive

Donate to Project Manta

Your gift will help researchers to gather critical knowledge to conserve and provide management solutions for manta rays, our threatened gentle giants.

Read next

Find out more about Project Manta.

Genetics testing a manta ray
Research approaches

Find out more about our research methods and how each is contributing to what we know about manta rays.

Manta rays feeding
Become a citizen scientist

Project Manta relies heavily on citizen scientists. Water users who are contributing photographs and observations to the Project Manta database.

Research impacts and findings

See our published research findings to learn more about what we've discovered so far.

Contact the Project Manta team via social media, or by email.