Guy Harvey Magazine

SPR 2011

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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-W MX LEVEWWQIRX SV IGS XSYVMWQ [LIR WRSVOIPIVW GLEWI QERXEW JSV E GLERGI EX E ¾IIXMRK XSYGL [LMPI QERXEW JIIH SR TPEROXSR MR ,ERMJEVY &E]# one manta right into the mouth of the one behind. When a particularly rich patch of plankton is encountered, the chain may bend around into a spiral, forming a spinning column of mantas that creates its own current, drawing water into the center of the column. Stevens termed this behavior “cyclone feeding” or “vortex feeding.” It has never been seen in any other location. Mantas are naturally slow-growing and late-maturing with very low reproductive rates, with females in other areas that have been studied averaging one offspring every other year. However, in the Maldives, Stevens has found that females reproduce on average only once in five years, and there has been a disturbing trend at Hanifaru over the last several years. Of the mature females that frequent XLI PEKSSR [IVI TVIKRERX MR -R SRP] [IVI pregnant, and in 2010 no pregnant females were seen there. This may be natural variability, and the low breeding success could be due to a number of causes, but one possibility is food resource limitation. Stevens believes the breeding failure in 2010 may be related to El Niño related food shortages. It is possible that instances of dense 22 www.guyharveymagazine.com plankton shoals collecting in the one bay with the unusual geology to trap these shoals are so important to the local manta population that their reproductive rate could be influenced by their ability to take full advantage of it. If so, these mantas could be headed for trouble. On my first day at Hanifaru I am merely frustrated by the hordes of scuba divers and snorkelers that pursue mantas from one end of the bay to the other and back, shamelessly diving right into incipient feeding formations and disrupting them, as well as foiling my attempts to photograph the mantas’ natural behavior without bipeds and bubbles in the frame. On my second day, I witness a shouting match between passengers on one boat and representatives of an operation blamed for running its boat over the top of surfacing divers. The next day there is a physical altercation between a snorkeler and a diver who has accidentally bumped into several mantas. This is followed by another shouting match, and a follow-up argument off-site. On the third day I am drawn into a shouting match with the operators of a boat that has been driving back and forth through groups of feeding mantas, scuba divers, and snorkelers, endangering both humans and

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