Seasonal occurrences of Manta birostris (Chondrichthyes: Mobulidae) in southeastern Brazil
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An analysis of 79 underwater photographs of Manta birostris gathered over a period of nine years in a marine protected area in southeastern Brazil suggests a high predictability of manta ray occurrences in the region during the austral winter (June–September). The reasons for this are probably related to the seasonal oceanographic conditions, as characterized by the presence of a coastal front at the study site in winter and consequent plankton enrichment, which provides a feeding opportunity for manta rays. In addition, a melanistic individual in the Atlantic Ocean that is similar in color to the Pacific Ocean’s “black manta” is reported for the first time.
KeywordsManta birostris Seasonality Coastal front Melanism Laje de Santos Marine State Park
We are very grateful to all our colleagues and dive buddies that contributed with photographs: Adilson Policiclio, Armando de Luca Jr., Christian Souza, Christina Vieira, Christina Zeppini, Eduardo Guariglia, Jean Marcel, Lara Cheidde, Lucas Persona, Paula Romano, Paulão Amorim, Rafael Esteves, Regis Ezipato, Renata Linger, Ricardo Feres, Roberto “Turcão” Ajaj, Silvio Stefanelli, Tércio Leal, Ulisses Turati, Valter Marquart and Willian Spinetti. Clovis B. de Carvalho (Centralmar Dive Center) and Instituto Laje Viva provided much valuable logistic support. We also thank Steven Wilson, Jean-C. Joyeux, João P. Barreiros, Luiz Rocha, Marcelo de Carvalho and Michael Feeley for comments on the manuscript. Rodrigo Mazzoleni and Paulo Bertuol contributed unpublished information. This work was part of the project Foto-identificação e sazonalidade da raia manta (Manta birostris) no Parque Estadual Marinho da Laje de Santos’ developed by the Instituto Laje Viva with the support of the Instituto Florestal—SP (COTEC - 42.637/2006). Essential financial support was provided by CNPq (grant 135112/2007-9 to OJLJr). This paper is dedicated to the memory of Kazunari Yano.
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