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29/10/2012 - Mohammed Qol - written by Steven Kessel

The wind is our friend; we had another great day on the water. Nige and Rebecca left this morning for Port Sudan and Graham, Ben and I headed out with Mohammed Ali and Isa to tag more mantas. The wind was still from the north but had got stronger overnight. This makes it harder to find the mantas so I was a little apprehensive that we may not find any and the clock is definitely ticking on our research time. We crossed the lagoon and it wasn’t more than 10 minutes before Isa had spotted one. He (like Claudio) really does have a keen eye for picking them out of the waves. We managed to tag it with an acoustic transmitter and while we did we saw several other manta rays. We realized it was going to be a good day.

In total we tagged four, two females and two males. Before today we had only tagged males and wouldn’t you know it the females are a lot more difficult to work with that the males (who would have guessed). All four today were big (in excess of 3 m wing span) and all of the tagging procedures went very well. It was the first time tagging the mantas for Graham and Ben and you never would have guessed it, they were both faultless and as a result everything went extremely quickly and smoothly. We only tagged four but we saw many today and (as Nigel said yesterday) it is a strong reminder of why we are here and why we have fort so hard for so long for the research permits to be here. This place is amazing and so rich with life and in many ways unique, it is so important that we get a handle on the marine ecosystems here while they remain near pristine.

Nige and Rebecca have been collecting supplies in Port Sudan. Rebecca heads to UAE and three other members arrive. I just spoke to Nige on the phone and he had met Joey, Cam and Sparky. I am very happy they arrived safely, but most important of all, they managed to bring our acoustic monitors with them. We were deeply worried we would have trouble getting them through customs and now that they are here we are definitely on course to make this research trip a huge success. Over the coming week we will tag more mantas and deploy 20 acoustic moorings around the Marine Reserve.

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