Indo Update 5 – Starting a new year

In unserer BLOG Kategorie “Indo Update” gibt Janis aus dem Team der MMF in Indonesien Einblicke in deren Arbeit, die aktuell zum Großteil aus unserem MANTAHARI Projekt finanziert wird. In der fünften AUsgabe fasst janis das letzte Jahr zusammen und gibt einen ausblick auf 2022. viel Spaß beim Lesen!

Happy belated New Year Mantahari Community! It is a brand new year, and we, at MMF, are ready to tackle our upcoming projects! Although new years are reserved for ‘New Year, New Me’ resolutions, I want to reflect on some of the things we have done in the past year and in December specifically. 

Maul & Aulia on a research dive
Collecting samples for the 7th year in a row

In 2021, we started the year with year six of the Microplastics and Megafauna Project, the longest running project of its kind in the world, with the help of two students from Udayana University. Although tourism was much lower than pre-pandemic, by June I received a project grant from Sustainable Ocean Alliance to fund my new manta ray reproduction project! With that funding, we are able to measure manta rays and turtles using a laser photogrammetry set-up, and recruit and train two fellow Indonesian marine scientists, Aulia and Maulana, to do an internship with MMF and learn all about manta rays and turtles. Having both Aulia and Maulana really helped the team keep on top of data processing, collecting new data and scaling the turtle project. 

In October and November, I learned a lot from other fellow Sustainable Ocean Alliance grantees with our weekly video call, discussing not only project management and leadership qualities, but also our insecurities of our projects. I also had the chance to speak about manta rays to several Indonesian universities via online seminars. All in all, 2021 was a pretty good year in terms of learning new things and creating new networks.

Stat Sheet Pregnant Mantas
Stat Sheet Size Class

After being away from Lembongan for a couple of weeks in November and December completing testing for my upcoming Masters studies, once back in the field, we jumped right back into intense data collection. I also had a chance to analyze the manta ray measurements and reproduction data (which is looking good!). Based on our preliminary results, so far we have measured 184 individuals, of 84 females, 41 males, and 2 unknowns, with most of the females sized between 4 – 4.5 meters, males and unknowns between 3 – less than 4 meters. Through this data, we can see that female individuals are mainly bigger than males, something that is seen in all manta rays globally. In addition, our pregnancy analyses from the data collected since 2012 to 2021 looks amazing! In our abacus plot of the top 15 sighted females in Manta Point, we can see that for the past 11 years, all of these manta rays have been pregnant (pink dots) at least once. We can’t wait to gather more data and see how the analyses will turn out in the long run!

Now it’s end of January, and we’re starting off our year with our SEVENTH season of Microplastics and Megafauna sampling. The founder of the project, Dr Elitza “Ellie” Germanov, is thrilled that we were able to keep monitoring the local manta feeding grounds for plastic, and to track Indonesia’s plastic mitigation efforts in coastal areas. The season looks promising so far as we’re seeing a lot of manta rays around our research sites lately. To learn more about our projects and support our work click the links! For more updates on our microplastics fieldwork, follow us on Instagram Microplastics and Megafauna, and Marine Megafauna Foundation for general marine megafauna content. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook (MMF Global; MMF SE Asia) as well, and go check out our latest Ocean Giants magazine

Once again, thank you to Mantahari Oceancare for supporting our activities! We couldn’t do it without your support!  Have a GRRReat early 2022! – Janis Argeswara

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