Long live the north wind

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28/10/2012 - Mohammed Qol - written by Steven Kessel

This morning we (Nige, Claudio and I) left early to check Isa’s net for mantas, the wind had died down and it was looking like a great day to be back on the water. The net again was empty except for a few small fish. Isa was keen to redeploy it buy since our other techniques were working so well we decided to focus on them for now. We drove around for maybe five minutes before Isa started shouting “mantas mantas”. There was a group of maybe seven mantas and they were feeding on the surface. It amazes me how they do not care about our (or the boat’s) presence and just go on about their business. We managed to capture and acoustically one of them, it was the biggest one so far at over 3 m wingspan.

After the tagging we went to see how the team (Rebecca, Mohammed Younis, Graham and Ben) on the other boat were doing. They had a manta in front of them and were to preparing to tag it with a GPS logger, so we left them to it and went off in search of more mantas. We didn’t have to look for long before we came across two in the middle of the channel. We selected the larger one for a satellite tag, but in the end it was a fair bit larger than we realized. Maybe fortunately it managed to get away, it would have been a great candidate for the tag, but was so large it would have been very difficult to cope with its power. We went back to the channel and found a group of around 10 feeding. We selected a more suitable candidate for the tag and this time we were successful. We have very much fine tuned out tagging techniques and it really is a great privilege to work in such close proximity with these large animals.

We were keen to tag a few more to get our numbers up, but the wind had picked up and it was a lot more difficult to spot the mantas among the waves. We searched for another two hours before calling it a day. We heading back to the camp and started to clean up the gear. The other crew returned about an hour later, they had a good day on the water too, they had successfully deployed the GPS logger and also conducted another reef survey.

Tomorrow Rebecca is leaving the team to head to Abu Dhabi for some coral surveys. Nige is travelling with her to Port Sudan to get some supplies and meet the new arriving team members; Joey, Cam and Sparky. The rest of us will head out to continue the tagging, hopefully the wind will have died down a little and the mantas we still be plentiful.Mohammed Younis, Graham and Ben) on the other boat were doing. They had a manta in front of them and were to preparing to tag it with a GPS logger, so we left them to it and went off in search of more mantas. We didn’t have to look for long before we came across two in the middle of the channel. We selected the larger one for a satellite tag, but in the end it was a fair bit larger than we realized. Maybe fortunately it managed to get away, it would have been a great candidate for the tag, but was so large it would have been very difficult to cope with its power. We went back to the channel and found a group of around 10 feeding. We selected a more suitable candidate for the tag and this time we were successful. We have very much fine tuned out tagging techniques and it really is a great privilege to work in such close proximity with these large animals.


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