Manta Research

Manta Research

Georgia Aquarium’s manta ray research at Marineland, FL has been an ongoing project for 6 years. Every year, new components of the research are added while the overall goal of understanding the natural history and population dynamics of these large, migratory rays remains the primary goal. This year, our research and conservation team worked with our dive operations team to install acoustic listening stations along the sandy bottom of the Atlantic Ocean via SCUBA divers. These stations will be "listening" for individually coded acoustic transmitters affixed to the manta rays to monitor their movements. Five stations in total were deployed in the waters just off shore from Georgia Aquarium’s sister facility, Marineland Dolphin Adventure. This group of stations is called a receiver array and it will be used to record tagged manta rays that swim through the nearshore Atlantic Ocean at Marineland, FL. These stations have an underwater microphone called a hydrophone that picks up specially coded messages released by the transmitters attached to the rays.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen weather circumstances, the research crew this year could not affix any transmitters to manta rays. But all is not lost, because there are still many tagged species of sharks, fish, and some rays swimming in the nearshore waters at Marineland. Using these receivers, we’ll be able to monitor the movements of animals equipped with the coded transmitters. When we retrieve the stations in the next year, we’ll be able to report those observations to other scientists as active members of the Florida Atlantic Coast Telemetry (FACT) Network. This participation will allow us to share data with other researchers as well as receive data when our tags are detected by other partner receivers.