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First satellite tag study for manta rays reveals habits and hidden journeys of ocean giants
Date:5/11/2012

Using the latest satellite tracking technology, conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Exeter (UK), and the Government of Mexico have completed a ground-breaking study on a mysterious ocean giant: the manta ray.

The research team has produced the first published study on the use of satellite telemetry to track the open-ocean journeys of the world's largest ray, which can grow up to 25 feet in width. Researchers say the manta raylisted as "Vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)has become increasingly threatened by fishing and accidental capture and now needs more protection.

The study was published today in the online journal PLoS One. The authors include: Rachel T. Graham of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Exeter; Matthew J. Witt of the University of Exeter; Dan W. Castellanos of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Francisco Remolina of the National Commission of Protected Areas, Cancun, Mexico; Sara Maxwell of the Marine Conservation Institute and the University of California-Santa Cruz; Brenden J. Godley of the University of Exeter; and Lucy A. Hawkes of Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom.

"Almost nothing is known about the movements and ecological needs of the manta ray, one of the ocean's largest and least-known species," said Dr. Rachel Graham, lead author on the study and director of WCS's Gulf and Caribbean Sharks and Rays Program. "Our real-time data illuminate the previously unseen world of this mythic fish and will help to shape management and conservation strategies for this species."

The research team attached satellite transmitters to manta rays off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula over a 13-day period. The tracking devices were attached to the backs of six individuals four females, one male, and one juvenile.

"The satellite tag data revealed that some of the rays traveled more than
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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