Rika is a Master’s student at the University of Auckland focusing on modelling the habitat suitability of Spine-tailed devil rays in Aotearoa. Devil rays not only in Aotearoa but globally are declining in numbers however, still very little is known about them making it harder to protect them. Rika is focusing her Master’s on devil rays in the hopes to close this knowledge gap and advise better management and protection of this beautiful animal .

Recently, she has also started helping with the Manta Watch New Zealand Trust’s social media, sharing her love for cool fun facts!!

“My favourite memory out in the blue was over the last summer when I got to see my first manta (more like 20)!! It was my first time out on a boat for a long period of time and my face got extremely burnt to the point where I had blisters everywhere and it was very painful. But then we spotted a manta ray and I got to hop in the water. What they don’t tell you is that manta rays swim crazy fast so you could easily miss them! This manta ray swam under me and then circled back, coming so close (probably curious to what I was) and I got the perfect photo ID shot. In that moment my painful blistery face wasn’t even an issue; that moment was so perfect and magical

So, I learnt that day that manta rays are so magical that they can even erase sunburn pain!!”