Whale sharks, manta rays and a line-cutter
Aqua-Firma carries out annual whale shark research and photography trips around the Mexican Caribbean island of Mujeres, and this year the team reported seeing more than 150 whale sharks on some days.
Another day they came across more than 100 mantas, one of which was 4m from wingtip to wingtip and badly tangled in fishing-line, which was cutting into its flesh and preventing it from opening its mouth fully.
Dr Chris Rohner, Aqua-Firma’s research host and Marine Megafauna Foundation principal scientist, approached the ray, which stayed put for the half-minute it took him to remove three hooks and cut the line.
“It was the highlight to a great day, with mantas breaching so close to Aqua-Firma’s research boat that people onboard were splashed,” reported trip leader Ralph Pannell.
15 October 2019
“In the water, trains of up to 13 mantas were chain-feeding on fish eggs near the surface, each one stacked slightly above the one in front.” Where concentrations of plankton were highest, the rays were barrel-rolling, making it easy for the team to photograph their belly markings for subsequent ID.
You could get a taste of this sort of action by booking on one of next year’s one-week trips, which start on 18 and 25 July.
The price is £1990, and you’ll find details at…