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Manta Ray Swimming Behavior with Vicky Fong

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Manta ray research using drones?! This week guest expert Vicky Fong joins us to tell us all about the swimming behavior of manta rays, and why understanding these behaviors can be important for their conservation!

We jump into Vicky's article, "Using Drones to Assess Volitional Swimming Kinematics of Manta Ray Behaviors in the Wild" (Fong, Hoffmann, and Pate; 2022)

Article Summary: (abstract)
Drones have become increasingly popular tools to study marine megafauna but are underutilized in batoid research. They used drones to collect video data of manta ray (Mobula cf. birostris) swimming and assessed behavior-specific kinematics in Kinovea, a semi-automated point-tracking software. They describe a ‘resting’ behavior of mantas making use of strong currents in man-made inlets in addition to known ‘traveling’ and ‘feeding’ behaviors. No significant differences were found between the swimming speed of traveling and feeding behaviors, although feeding mantas had a significantly higher wingbeat frequency than traveling mantas. Resting mantas swam at a significantly slower speed and wingbeat frequency, suggesting that they were continuously swimming with the minimum effort required to maintain position and buoyancy. Swimming speed and wingbeat frequency of traveling and feeding behaviors overlapped, which could point to other factors such as prey availability and a transitional behavior, influencing how manta rays swim. These baseline swimming kinematic data have valuable applications to other emerging technologies in manta ray research.

Follow Vicky on Instagram @vicky.fong

Follow the Florida Manta Project on Instagram @MarineMegaFauna and Jessica Pate @FloridaMantaGirl

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