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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 639:137-153 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13270

Individual variation in residency and regional movements of reef manta rays Mobula alfredi in a large marine protected area

Samantha Andrzejaczek1,*, Taylor K. Chapple1,2, David J. Curnick3, Aaron B. Carlisle4, Michael Castleton1, David M. P. Jacoby3, Lauren R. Peel5,6, Robert J. Schallert1, David M. Tickler7, Barbara A. Block1

1Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
2Coastal Oregon Marine Station, Oregon State University, Newport, OR 97365, USA
3Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK
4School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19716, USA
5School of Biological Sciences, Oceans Graduate School, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
6The Australian Institute of Marine Science, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
7Marine Futures Lab, School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Mobulid populations are declining on a global scale as a result of both targeted fisheries and indirect anthropogenic threats. In order to implement effective conservation strategies for species of this taxa, it is crucial that movement patterns at a range of spatiotemporal scales are defined. To gain insight into such patterns, we deployed a combination of acoustic (n = 21) and satellite (n = 12) tags on reef manta rays Mobula alfredi in the British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area (BIOT MPA) annually from 2013 through 2016. An extensive array of acoustic receivers (n = 52) were deployed across the archipelago to record the movements of mantas throughout the MPA. Data revealed large individual variation in horizontal movement patterns, ranging from high local site fidelity (<10 km) for up to 3 yr, to large-scale regional movements (>200 km) around the entire MPA. Depth time-series data recorded vertical movement patterns consistent with other epipelagic elasmobranch species, including oscillatory diving and deep dives to greater than 500 m. Though no individuals were directly recorded departing the MPA throughout the study, the gaps in detections and estimated travel speeds documented here indicate that movement of individuals outside of the BIOT MPA cannot be discounted. Collectively, our data suggests that, with effective enforcement, the current size of the BIOT MPA is providing substantial protection to its reef manta ray population. Characterization of movement patterns across ontogenetic classes, however, is required to fully characterize the spatial ecology of this species and ensure protection across all cohorts of the population.


KEY WORDS: Biologging · Acoustic telemetry · Satellite telemetry · Manta · Site fidelity · Elasmobranch · Conservation · Chagos Archipelago


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Cite this article as: Andrzejaczek S, Chapple TK, Curnick DJ, Carlisle AB and others (2020) Individual variation in residency and regional movements of reef manta rays Mobula alfredi in a large marine protected area. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 639:137-153. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13270

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