Andrea ‘Queen of Mantas’ Marshall suffers stroke

Andrea Marshall has suffered a stroke (MMF)
Andrea Marshall has suffered a stroke (MMF)

Dr Andrea Marshall, co-founder and principal scientist of the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), has suffered a serious stroke and is in intensive care, having survived near-fatal complications that followed an emergency operation. Her condition is described as serious but stable.

Marshall had been enjoying a short family holiday following two successful scuba diving expeditions in Mexico when a ruptured aneurysm brought on what was described as a significant right brain stroke, and she had to be rushed to hospital for surgery.

Also read: First woman cave-diver enters Hall of Fame

“While Andrea is getting high-quality medical care, she will require a substantial amount of time and extensive rehabilitation therapy to recover, overcome setbacks and resume to the fullest extent possible her regular life,” said Simon Pierce, who co-founded the MMF with Marshall in 2009.

Marshall’s family and friends have set up a dedicated GoFundMe page to help provide for her long-term medical care and for her immediate family, husband Janneman Conradie and daughter Mia.

Andrea Marshall, Queen of Mantas, with her family - husband Janneman Conradie and daughter Mia
Andrea Marshall with her family: husband Janneman and daughter Mia

Marshall, long known as the “Queen of Mantas”, was the first person in the world to complete a PhD on manta rays, after which she stayed in Mozambique to spearhead their conservation in the region and elsewhere.

The lead author of the IUCN’s Red List assessments for both species of manta rays and a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, she also developed the global online citizen-science database MantaMatcher.

The US conservation biologist and underwater photographer featured in the BBC documentary Andrea: Queen of Mantas as well as in its Sharks trilogy. In 2013, she was named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic in recognition of her conservation efforts.

“Andrea is a truly unique force of nature, and our great friend,” said Pierce. “Fortunately, she had already wrapped up her pioneering research efforts in Mozambique for the season. We’re making contingency plans to continue her projects through 2024, and thereafter, as necessary.

“While I’m absolutely certain that she’ll want to be back in the water as fast as humanly possible – somewhat sooner, knowing Andrea – we’re lucky to have a world-class scientific team at MMF to fill in for her while she focuses on her recovery.”

MMF's global COO Sarah Butchers and country manager Emildo Patricio Vilanculo will continue to run its Mozambican operations from their Tofo headquarters, though another fundraiser has been set up by the foundation to help bridge Marshall's absence.

Apart from its global manta ray programme, current MMF projects are focused on mantas in southern Mozambique, Indonesia, Florida and the Andaman Sea, and also in Mozambique the threatened species devil rays, bull and leopard sharks, wedgefish and smalleye sting rays, as well as an elasmobranch census project.

Also on Divernet: Marshall's hunt for ‘third manta' hots up, Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe, Diving campaigners welcome Mozambique action, Divers unlock secrets of biggest sting ray


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2 months ago

Terrible news, wishing her a speedy recovery 🙏

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