According to one of Palau’s eco-tourism partners, Etpison Museum, this Micronesian destination is home to at least 235 different manta rays, which have been recently photo identified as of June, 2013. All of the Palau belly IDs, dramatic photos and information on Palau manta rays can be viewed on the newly updated www.mantaIDpalau.org website, one of the ongoing awareness projects of the non-profit Etpison Museum.
The museum will continue to work with different states in Palau in the next few years to identify new manta feeding and cleaning sites and make suggestions for site management. The project only uses non-invasive survey methods like time-lapse cameras, snorkeling, diving and helicopter surveys to learn more about the mantas movements around Palau’s reefs and identify new potential tourist sites.
As of June 2013, the Palau Project has joined with the Manta Trust organization (www.mantatrust.org), whose worldwide efforts on behalf of manta rays will now include Palau and give the destination access to the latest research and manta ray experts and scientists around the world. Local partners assisting the Palau Manta ID Project include the Palau Pacific Resort, the Palau Conservation Society, the Coral Reef Research Foundation, Rock Island Helicopters and Neco Marine.
About Palau: Located in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, Palau is an archipelago of more than 586 islands with about 20,000 inhabitants and was the world’s first official Shark Sanctuary, setting the pace for many other destinations to follow suit. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s best dive destinations, Palau is the ultimate paradise for the adventurous traveler, boasting some of the most spectacular water features and beaches as well as the world famous, swim friendly Jellyfish Lake and Rock Islands, which was recently inscribed onto United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. With 1,450 species of fish and 500 species of coral, some have called Palau the “8th Natural Wonder of the World”, while others have identified Palau as “One of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World.” For more information about Palau, please visit www.visit-palau.com