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Local marine biologist sheds light on manta rays

Marine biologist Michelle Carpenter, right, with a friend.

Marine biologist Michelle Carpenter, right, with a friend.

Published Apr 28, 2022

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Durban - Marine biologist and manta ray specialist Michelle Carpenter will host a fun, informative and free talk at Rocky Bay Resorts this week.

The talk, sponsored by the Rufford Foundation, is on Friday, April 29 in the Games Room at 2pm.

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Carpenter, who is also a scuba diver and freediver, has specialised in sharks and rays, having discovered the incredible Aliwal Shoal devil ray cleaning station in 2020. Here she will chat about that incredible discovery, as well as her other research findings.

Manta rays on Aliwal Shoal.

Carpenter was born in upstate New York and is a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town, studying manta rays and southern rays in southern Africa. She has researched manta rays for four years in Mozambique and Indonesia. She has been working in the marine biology field for nine years, with experience in marine megafauna research, coral monitoring and restoration, teaching, public outreach/education, and underwater videography/photography.

Carpenter believes that public awareness is a crucial component for effective marine conservation.

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Commenting on the talk, she said: “The audience will learn about mobula rays and other local marine species which I share through research. With conservation, the people hold the power. The more people who understand how they can help the ocean in their everyday actions and choices, the bigger impact we will all have.

“Manta rays are charismatic species that are poorly understood yet are economically important by generating ecotourism in developing countries such as Mozambique. Despite their value, mantas are under serious threat with reports of up to 98% sightings decline in Mozambique. However, there are select places such as Zavora where mantas are still seen in high numbers, although they are dwindling there too,” she said.

The Independent on Saturday

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