It is common to meet divers with a passion for marine life but it is rare to meet one who will dedicate their life to the science and preservation of a marine species. This July, Sharm was lucky to host Dr. Andrea Marshall, christened “Queen of Manta’s” by the BBC documentary of the same name. Her Ph.D. on Manta Rays was the first ever doctoral thesis to be completed on these magnificent creatures. Giving up a life of home comforts, shopping malls and dating potential, since 2003 Andrea has been working from a small hut in the remote coastal town of Tofu in Mozambique. Working tirelessly to discover more about this species, educate the public and encourage their conservation, Andrea has made huge progress in the data now available on mantas.

Andrea gave a series of talks whilst here, one of which was for the staff and guests of both Sinai Divers and Red Sea Diving College as a co-operative event. To describe the talk as fascinating would be an understatement. Covering everything from the fact that mantas can dive down to depths of 1000m, to their unique identifying features, the 2 penises endowed on the males, right through to the threats they face to their existence and how divers can help.

The Red Sea is of particular interest to Andrea as she has noticed that the majority of the
manta’s seen here are youngsters, meaning that we may actually have one of the worlds only known Giant Manta nurseries.

Within the same month, in the same subject of big ray’s we were amazed to have one of the only known devil ray sightings up near Taba at Farun Island. An exciting diving experience for the divers who were at the time taking their first ever dive experience!

To help Andrea with compiling an international database on Mantas, please send any manta photos to us detailing location and approximate date (worldwide sightings are welcome) on vicki.jarman@redseacollege.com and for more information on the activities of the Manta Queen visit her blog at www.saveourseas.com/blogs/mantas-mozambique

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