Adopted by: James Wilkey.
ID Number: MA-MV-3747
Date First Sighted: 16th June 2015.
Location of First Sighting: Kuda Lhaimandhoo, Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives.
Total Number of Sightings: 1
DESCRIPTION & HISTORY
During our first encounter, we estimated that this manta was roughly 3.4 metres in width, from wing-tip to wing-tip. Based on the presence of mating scars on her left pectoral fin, we class this manta as a sexually mature adult (check out this page on the Manta Trust website, to learn more about manta mating behaviour).
She has a short-medium length tail, and evidence of an old shark bite scar on her right pectoral fin that has since healed. In the Maldivian reef manta population, relatively few individuals possess shark bite injuries. However in other parts of the world, such as in Mozambique, a far greater percentage of the population suffer from these injuries, meaning the threat mantas face from shark predation is far greater in certain locations compared to others (you can learn more about a manta ray's natural predators here).
She also possesses scars on her left pectoral fin, caused by fishing line entanglement. Sadly this is a fairly common injury in the Maldivian population. Mantas are nationally protected in the Maldives, and highly respected in the nation's culture, so these injuries do not come from fishermen intentionally hunting them. Instead they more likely come from "ghost fishing" - damaged fishing nets and lines that have been abandoned at sea, and named because of their ability to continue to catch marine life after they've been discarded. Some ghost nets and lines undoubtedly come from within the Maldives, but most of it arguably drifts into the archipelago from nearby nations, such as India and Sri Lanka. You can learn more about the threat of entanglement and other forms of bycatch here.