Hello, welcome and thank you for visiting our mobula blogula! I am Bex, I work at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium but along with my partner Graham (also of the London Aquarium) have taken a sabbatical and moved to Bora Bora, French Polynesia, to work for the Manta Trust. We would really love to share some of our experiences and learnings with you over what we hope will be a really exciting, productive and manta-filled 6 months.
It is only our second day on the island of Bora Bora and we are currently sitting on a veranda gazing out over an overcast but still stunning view of the ocean and island volcano, nervously listening to the sound of rain hitting the corrugated and not entirely waterproof roof that we hope will keep our laptops safe and dry. It truly is a wonderful part of the world to be in (though it looks unnervingly like the island from Jurassic Park) but we are not here for the views or the tropical climate. We’re here for the manta rays!
So what is a manta ray you might well ask? Manta rays are some of nature’s gentle giants; they reach enormous proportions yet feed only on tiny fish and zooplankton. The largest mantas can reach over 7m from wing-tip to wing-tip and weigh in at about 2 tonnes. Just stop and think about that for a moment. A single, large manta ray probably covers more m² than the average London flat and weighs as much as a rhino. They. Are. BIG.
Gliding through the ocean, driven by their epic, beating pectoral fins, swooping and rolling like acrobats to filter plankton from the water with their specialised gills, mantas are effortlessly graceful and mesmerising to behold. They have the largest brain to body ratio of any fish and are believed to be intelligent, sociable beings with distinct personalities. Some individuals are known to seek out interaction with humans, seeming to enjoy the feeling of diver’s bubbles tickling their bellies.
Manta's are everything you could want in a sea creature; big, beautiful and mysterious. Scientists have only been studying mantas properly for around a decade so there is still a lot to learn! Making the Manta Trust's work and our time here in Bora Bora all the more important and exciting.
Now it is getting dark and my tummy is rumbling so the time has come to wrap this up, evict the tiny gecko that is using my laptop case as cover to ambush delicious ants and head back inside. Thank you for reading! More posts to follow soon.
P.S. You might well be wondering why we've called this blog the 'mobula blogula' and what a mobula is? All will be revealed in the next post!