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Aquatic Biology

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AB 10:1-10 (2010)  -  DOI:

Paired-laser photogrammetry as a simple and accurate system for measuring the body size of free-ranging manta rays Manta alfredi

Mark H. Deakos1,2,*

1The Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research, PMB#175, 5095 Napilihau St. 109B, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, USA
2University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2500 Campus Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: Morphometrics are useful for describing and managing animal populations, but measurements can be difficult to obtain, especially on large free-ranging aquatic animals. The accuracy and precision of paired-laser photogrammetry were tested as a simple and non-invasive remote sensing system for measuring the body size of free-ranging, resident manta rays Manta alfredi, a newly described species that is poorly understood. Based on repeated measurements of a pipe of known size, the paired-laser system proved accurate (mean error of 0.39%) and precise (CV = 0.54%). Repeated measurements on 154 different manta rays visiting a cleaning station off Maui, Hawaii, produced a mean CV of 1.46%. Disc length (DL) measurements were more precise than disc width (DW) measurements, and an empirically derived disc ratio (DR) function was applied to convert DL to DW measurements for standard comparison with other studies. Sexual dimorphism was present with the largest female (3.64 m DW) 18% larger than the largest male (3.03 m DW). Sexual maturity in females, based on evidence of pregnancy and mating scars, was conservatively determined to be 3.37 m DW. The DW at which 50% of the males were likely to be mature (based on clasper length) was between 2.7 and 2.8 m. The absence of individuals < 2.5 m DW suggests that age class segregation occurs in this population. Paired-laser photogrammetry proved to be a simple, non-invasive, accurate, and precise method for sizing free-ranging manta rays. Repeated measurements on known individuals over time could provide population growth parameters needed for adequate management of this poorly understood species.

KEY WORDS: Morphometrics · Photogrammetry · Manta ray · Manta alfredi · Body size · Sexual maturity · Hawaii

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Cite this article as: Deakos MH (2010) Paired-laser photogrammetry as a simple and accurate system for measuring the body size of free-ranging manta rays Manta alfredi. Aquat Biol 10:1-10.

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