Meet the Thriving Manta Ray Hub!

This ocean and nearby park are popular destinations for nature lovers.

Jun 30, 2022
Meet the Thriving Manta Ray Hub! | This ocean and nearby park are popular destinations for nature lovers.

Indonesia is home to beautiful and exotic animals found nowhere else in the world. UNESCO World Heritage site, Komodo National Park, boasts volcanic islands and mangrove forests, and is one of the few places in the world where tourists can spot the scaly, forked-tongued Komodo dragons that the park is named after, reports Lonely Planet.

Unique fauna at the park aren’t limited to the land. Komodo National Park’s coral reefs are known as well for their biodiversity. Visiting divers can see the 80% of the Earth’s coral species that inhabit its tropical waters. 

Recent conservation efforts to restore these pristine and unique reefs have borne fruit. According to Mongabay, an emerging study of manta ray populations, found that the park is one of the world’s top locations for gathering manta rays.

Iconic animals
Just like the Komodo Dragon, Manta rays are a ubiquitous tourist attraction for the thousands of divers who visit Komodo National Park. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dive Adventures (

According to Sci News, the rays are iconic and famous for their size, measuring between 11 to 16 feet across. Dr. Andrew Marshall, a researcher at the Marine Megafauna Foundation explains, “People love manta rays. They are one of the most iconic animals in our oceans.” 

Under threat
Tourists and divers aren’t the only hopefuls looking to spot the iconic rays. Mongabay reports that rays are targeted by fishermen hoping to sell the gill plates, which are an ingredient in Chinese medicine. 

Rays are also caught as bycatch in fishing nets. Additionally pollution threatens these exotic and beautiful rays and their habitats. Irresponsible tourism can sometimes cause harm to mantas. 

Since mantas reproduce relatively slowly, with each pair only producing a child every two years or so, researchers are concerned about their dwindling population. According to Joanna Harris from the UK-based Manta Trust, “reef manta rays are classified as vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List, and global populations continue to plummet.”

Crowdsourced manta data
With this concern in mind, Dr. Marshall, alongside the Komodo National Park diver operator community, commissioned a crowd-sourcing study of the manta population at the park, Sci-News reports. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gavin | Exploring Thailand (@gavsgoneagain)

Scuba divers, snorkelers, and holiday goers were able to upload photos and videos of the local manta rays they spotted to the website,, where researchers identified individual rays, alongside their migration and living patterns. 

The public also came through, uploading more than 4,000 photographs. “I was amazed by how receptive the local dive community was in helping collect much needed data on these threatened animals,” explained Dr. Elitza Germanov, from the Marine Megafauna Foundation, the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems and Environmental and Conservation Science at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

A top site for reefs

The study showed there were 1,085 identified manta rays at Komodo National Park, making the plankton-rich reefs a top site worldwide for mantas, Mongabay reports.

However, a large number of these manta rays showed fishing and tourism-related injuries. Because the mantas continue to frequent the tourist hotspots at Komodo National Park, conservationists will have to take into account safe and sustainable tourism practices to help the manta population continue to grow. 

Sci-News cites park employee, Ande Kefi, “this study shows that the places where tourists commonly observe manta rays are important for the animals to feed, clean and mate. This means that Komodo National Park should create measures to limit the disturbances at these sites.”

Komodo National Park is already universally famous for its Komodo Dragon population and now for its supersized manta population. With increased conservation measures in place, this wild haven’s native flora and fauna can continue to blossom.

Celebrating Marine Life in the Indian Ocean
Alternative Sunscreen Could Help Corals And Skin Health at the Beach
Barbie’s New Beach Makeover is Stunning for a Different Reason!

Adina is a writer who believes in the transformative power of words. She understands that everyone has a valuable story to tell. Adina’s goal is to learn new things every day and share her discoveries with others.