Oceanic Manta Ray Surveys with Manta Watch New Zealand


DISCOVERY Yacht Saluté
Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
January 30 - 31, 2024


Research Team

  • Lydia Green

Project Overview

In New Zealand, oceanic manta rays are frequently sighted along the coastlines of the North Island and the northern South Island, especially in plankton-rich regions such as the Hauraki Gulf. Despite their prevalence, manta rays in New Zealand have received limited research attention. Manta Watch New Zealand is actively engaged in research, education, and conservation initiatives, aiming to fill this knowledge gap and promote the protection of these animals.

Duration of Project


Expedition Summary

The International SeaKeepers Society South Pacific facilitated a 2-day expedition aboard DISCOVERY Yacht Saluté.

The expedition included conducting oceanic manta ray surveys, collecting behavioural data and photographic images for identifying individual manta rays. The trip focused its efforts around Aotea/Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf on the first day, then continued the search into new project territory, traversing the Coromandel Peninsula’s east coast and over to Great Mercury Island. Upon encountering feeding manat rays, the team returned north, but focussing efforts up the East coast of Great Barrier and Rakitu Island. A total of 6 manta rays were spotted over the 2 days, however challenging sea conditions hampered data collection efforts. 1 manta dorsal and ventral photo IDs were successfully obtained and added to the National ID Database The other verified manta ray sightings will contribute towards ongoing seasonal distribution and habitat use studies.


Manta rays are a globally endangered species facing numerous threats to their survival. By using drones, we can capture photographs of individuals in their natural habitat, gathering data on their behavior, habitat distribution, and seasonal movements. This information will help us better understand the conservation needs of these remarkable animals.


Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel Peninsula and Great Mercury Island

Partner Sites

Photo Gallery

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