Manta ray Behavioral and Population Study
rays visit the offshore channel of Barefoot Manta every year between the
months of May through October. They’ve been observed feeding on plankton,
cleaning, and carrying out courtship behavior while in the area. They are most
commonly sighted during the high tide and as many as fourteen individuals can
show up at one time. The Marine Conservation Team and a representative of the
“Manta Trust” have set-up a formal identification and behavioral study to
monitor these fascinating ocean dwellers.
ongoing study will determine if the same population is returning each year, how
many individuals are using this area, if their behavior is consistent with
other manta rays globally, whether their habitat is suitable, where they go
during the day during manta ray season, where they reside outside of manta ray
season, and what unique aspects of the channel bring them to the channel in the
|Sea Cucumber Breeding Program
The Marine Conservation Team have taken a special interest
in sea cucumbers. At first, they may
only resemble a large slug, but they deserve another look. Sea cucumbers play a
crucial role in the ecosystem, like the earthworms they recycle the nutrients
in the sediment that would otherwise be lost to the rest of the food
chain. Despite their unbecoming looks,
they’ve made their way on to many local and Asian menus. Such a large demand
has led to severe population decline and dangerous fishing practices. We hope to reduce fishing pressures on the
ecosystem and minimise loss of life by setting up a breeding program. Three species have also been selected to
investigate the possibilities of asexual and sexual reproduction.
Coral Planting and Reef Rejuvenation
The Marine Conservation Team are coral planting as part of our Reef
Rejuvenation Project. Small fragments of coral are collected from the reef and
rooted onto a metal frame. They are left to grow for approximately 6 months and
then transplanted into degraded areas on the reef. This increases the dispersal
of coral and creates additional habitats for reef residents. An extensive
rejuvenation project has also been carried out on South Sea Island.
| Coral Planting|| Giant Clam Farm|| Giant Clam Farm|
Giant Clam Farm
Clams are one of the most beautiful things to come across while
snorkeling or diving on a coral reef. Along with their beauty, they play an
essential role in this ecosystem. They’re the natural filters of the ocean.
Corals need clean, nutrient free water to grow. Therefore a plentiful clam
population is ideal for coral reef prosperity.
Fiji’s clam numbers are currently quite low due to overharvesting. In
the 1960’s the Giant Clam even became extinct. It has now been successfully re-introduced
into Fijian waters and Makogai Island is currently culturing this clam along
with others, in an attempt to reintroduce and disperse them throughout Fiji. The
Marine Conservation Team at Barefoot Manta has joined this nationwide project
and hosts 3 different clam species, including the Giant Clam with the potential
to grow to 1.5 meters.
Crown-of-Thorn Seastar (COTS) is a predatory seastar natural to coral reefs. It
preys on the polyps of coral and plays an important role on the reef by
‘trimming’ fast growing corals, allowing room for other coral species to settle
and grow. However, in unnaturally high populations seastars can have a devastating
impact on a coral reef. Many areas in
Fiji are currently facing a COTS infestation. Scientists believe this
overpopulation is due to a combination of contributing factors including over-fishing
(lowering the number of natural COTS predators), warming ocean temperatures and
elevated nutrient levels in the water. The Marine Conservation Team monitor
COTS numbers regularly. If we find an unsustainable number on the reef, we will
remove them to avoid a potential infestation. By regularly monitoring the reef
we are able to react quickly if a problem arises in COTS numbers. We can also
use this information to disseminate knowledge about COTS outbreaks with
interested groups around the globe.
| Crown-of-Thorn Monitoring
|| Reef Check
|| Reef Check
Reef Check Fiji
The Marine Conservation Team conduct Reef Check Surveys to
provide an insight into the health of the reef and we collect this data by
snorkeling or Scuba diving (depending on reef depth).
The surveys help us to,
- Compare sites within Marine Protected Areas
(MPAs) to sites outside MPAs.
- Assess the relative abundance and size
distribution of target species, which over a given period of time will indicate
changes in the composition of a specific reef.
- Determine how newly proposed MPAs will
respond to rehabilitation efforts.
- Identify if the reef is in need of
- Provide valuable ongoing information into
general patterns and coral reef history.