Science-based ecotourism

Accompanying fishermen on the initial ecotourism trips provides further training and allows for regular feedback from tourists. In case manta rays are observed, snorkelling and free diving is conducted. Location and time of encounter is registered, and, if possible, a photograph of the ventral surface is collected for photo-identification. Manta sightings are recorded in a database. Ecotourists are thus able to support research during their boat trips, serving as citizen scientists providing ongoing information about the local species population. Fees paid by ecotourists provide an additional income to fishermen, while encouraging manta ray conservation.

Current research on Manta Rays, by the project team and artisanal fishermen, helps identify critical sites for manta rays in the area. This understanding is crucial in order to manage sustainable ecotourism, reduce impacts on manta rays and assure effective experiences for tourists.

Although fishermen have expertise in finding manta rays in the open ocean, it takes time for them to develop experience in other required aspects (e.g. data collection, etc.). Local student volunteers serve as vital support on boat trips, and assure all necessary requirements are met.