Individual manta rays are recognisable by a unique pattern of dark markings on an belly surface and by other permanent features such as shark bites.These spot-patterns can be used in photo-identification of rays for population analyses.
This methodology comprises taking photographs of a manta individual belly and comparing them with a photographic database to discover if this individual has been photographed previously, and if so, when and where has it been seen.
Photographs are generally analysed and individuals are matched by eye.
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The ventral surface of the manta rays is the key area for identification:
3 key areas:
1: Between the gill slits
2: The belly
3: The pelvic fins (sex of the animal)
- Any photo with these 3 key areas visible are perfect for identification
- Any dorsal shots are also useful as it can show special pattern and bites that are recognizable
Photo-identification provide a long term approach to improve our understanding of manta ray biology, including possible migrations, temporal and geographic patterns of ocean use and some life-history aspects. In the short term analysis, it can help to identify a population’s composition and trends at each study sites
Photographic sight-resight (photo-identification) of manta rays will help to identify the population dynamism, size, structure and movement patterns of the species such as: