Volunteer to protect the manta rays of the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.


Project Manta Ningaloo Reef


Who: Earthwatch

Where: Coral Bay, Western Australia

Focus: Data gathering on the habitat use, movement and behaviour of manta rays to help improve the management and protection of the species. Plus, research into the impact of tourism on the local shark and ray population.

When: March and October (set expedition dates)

Duration: 8 days

Suitability: Over 18s

Cost: Available here.

As a volunteer, you will:

  • Experience the abundant marine life of the Ningaloo Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Australia’s largest fringing reef.
  • Act as research ambassadors aboard a local tourism vessel, collecting data at snorkel sites and interacting with manta rays.
  • Snorkel and duck dive to observe and photo ID manta rays, and record their behaviour.
  • Conduct black tip and grey reef shark counts from shore as they frequent a small inner lagoon, where they group together to mate and speed up gestation.
  • Identify different manta rays in the lab using the Project Manta WA database to compare images and add the findings to the database. Volunteers that discover a previously unidentified manta ray, may get the opportunity to name it.
  • Survey and map manta ray cleaning stations. Help determine the effectiveness of local marine sanctuaries on these stations by recording how popular each station is for manta rays, reef fish, and benthic fauna, such as stingrays.
  • Record daily sightings of all megafauna using the citizen science app CoastalWalkabout.

The Base

Volunteers stay at a holiday home rental in Coral Bay, with three bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and communal kitchen. Hot water and electricity are available. Daily housekeeping chores are done on a rotational basis.

  • Sleeping: Shared rooms with bunk beds. One private double room is available on request.
  • Private Accommodation: Volunteers can book their own room in the town at their own cost.
  • Food: 3 meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are prepared by the volunteer. Dinner will be held at a local restaurant.

The next step

Visit Earthwatch for more information and to book. Please say that you heard about this project from Sea Fans.


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