The Barefoot Manta conservation team have collaborated with Manta Project Fiji (an affiliate of Manta Trust) since 2011 and have since been conducting data collection on the local manta population. Every day during the manta season (April-October), the conservation team conduct surveys in the channel and record the environmental conditions (weather, current, plankton density etc), as well as recording the number and behaviour of any mantas that are present. Due to the unique spot patterns on the underside of mantas, it is possible to identify individuals: currently there have been 120 individuals identified at this location, which contributes to the country wide database of over 400 individuals.
Since 2018, Barefoot Manta has partnered with various universities around the world. From Australia, RMIT & Deakin have sent multiple undergraduate study groups, with students from various courses (Engineering, Teaching, Environmental Science, and Marine Biology making up the core). Postgraduate researchers from the University of Delaware have also conducted their data collection using our facilities, with research looking at factors which influence the larval recruitment of reef species.
The volcanic islands of the Yasawas have been suitable habitats for extensive hard coral growth, and support diverse reef ecosystems. At Barefoot Manta the conservation team have been documenting the marine species. So far the team have recorded 300+ fish species, 11 species of sharks and rays, and 60+ species of hard coral.
One of the most special natural features here is the channel that separates Barefoot Manta island with Naviti island to the North. Each year, from April till October, regional weather conditions can combine with the natural shape of the islands to concentrate masses of zooplankton. When large clouds of these tiny crustaceans form, reef manta rays are regularly witnessed arriving at this site to feed on the nutritious abundance.