MANTA BEHAVIOUR … where do they go?
Julia from Wythall near Birmingham won our Name the Manta Competition at the Dive Show ... so this handsome male manta is now known as Troy. He is a fairly large manta who has been visiting Sunlight Thila and Lankan in North Male Atoll since mid 2007, but isn't there often. He tends to appear when there is a group of large females, so it is likely that he is attracted to these busy cleaning stations during mating season and is looking for a mate!
The picture of Troy was taken in the Maldives by Dr Anne-Marie Kitchen-Wheeler, from the Manta Ecology Project, who has been studying mantas for 15 years:-
"I have come to appreciate the range of behaviours exhibited by individual mantas. Some we see many times each season, in some cases we lose contact of one for a few years and then it reappears and is seen frequently for the following seasons. There have been a good number seen once and then not seen again until 10, 12 and even 14 years later ... so I never give up on a manta!
Where do they go in the meantime? The Maldives is a very large geographical area with many reefs never visited by divers. Even in areas where there is relatively intensive diving there are quiet reefs and channels not ever visited by divers or snorkelers so there are plenty of places for “shy” mantas to avoid human contact. I have certainly observed a range of behaviour as far as manta-to-diver interaction is concerned. All the most famous mantas “love” divers and became famous because they were seen so often, easily photographed and became recognised and their names stuck. When I write “love” divers I mean they are tolerant and curious of us and have probably incorporated swimming through our exhaled bubbles into their cleaning routines.
I really enjoy having a new manta re-sighted several times and become a new favourite ... and I hope this is the case with the newly-named “Troy” manta."
So, if you are diving in the Maldives, be sure to look out for Troy!