Unique sequence of events triggers manta ray feeding frenzy in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Weeks, Scarla J, Magno-Canto, Marites M, Jaine, Fabrice R A, Brodie, Jon and Richardson, Anthony J (2015) Unique sequence of events triggers manta ray feeding frenzy in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Remote Sensing, 7 3: 3138-3152. doi:10.3390/rs70303138


Author Weeks, Scarla J
Magno-Canto, Marites M
Jaine, Fabrice R A
Brodie, Jon
Richardson, Anthony J
Title Unique sequence of events triggers manta ray feeding frenzy in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Journal name Remote Sensing   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2072-4292
Publication date 2015-03-18
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3390/rs70303138
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 7
Issue 3
Start page 3138
End page 3152
Total pages 15
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publisher MDPI AG
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Manta rays are classified as Vulnerable to Extinction on the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species. In Australia, a key aggregation site for reef manta rays is Lady Elliot Island (LEI) on the Great Barrier Reef, ~7 km from the shelf edge. Here, we investigate the environmental processes that triggered the largest manta ray feeding aggregation yet observed in Australia, in early 2013. We use MODIS sea surface temperature (SST), chlorophyll-a concentration and photic depth data, together with in situ data, to show that anomalous river discharges led to high chlorophyll (anomalies: 10–15 mg∙m−3) and turbid (photic depth anomalies: −15 m) river plumes extending out to LEI, and that these became entrained offshore around the periphery of an active cyclonic eddy. Eddy dynamics led to cold bottom intrusions along the shelf edge (6 °C temperature decrease), and at LEI (5 °C temperature decrease). Strongest SST gradients (>1 °C∙km−1) were at the convergent frontal zone between the shelf and eddy-influenced waters, directly overlying LEI. Here, the front intensified on the spring ebb tide to attract and shape the aggregation pattern of foraging manta rays. Future research could focus on mapping the probability and persistence of these ecologically significant frontal zones via remote sensing to aid the management and conservation of marine species.
Keyword Remote sensing
Manta rays
Frontal zones
Sea surface temperature
Chlorophyll
Photic depth
Eddy dynamics
River discharge
Upwelling
Great Barrier Reef
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Mathematics and Physics
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2016 Collection
 
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