Edy Setyawan, 2021



Manta Watch Aotearoa New Zealand (MWANZ) is a
charitable trust that combines dedicated research,
education and collaboration to learn more about
Aotearoa’s oceanic manta rays.

Our Kaupapa (or vision) is a sustainable future for mobulid rays in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Mark Erdmann, 2017

Rowan Virbickas, 2019


Citizen Scientist Submissions

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Our Mission

Is to foster knowledge of and advocacy for Aotearoa New Zealand’s oceanic ecosystems through research, conservation, education, and collaboration. This is being achieved by:

  • Scientific research on the data deficient and globally endangered mobulid ray species found in Aotearoa’s waters; the oceanic manta ray and spinetail devil ray.
  • Communicating findings to the scientific community, relevant management bodies, iwi, local communities, and the general public.
  • Creating opportunities to engage with schools and communities to advance oceanic marine environmental education and advocacy, through citizen science, presentations, and outreach.
  • Recognising and respecting the cultural values of kaitiakitanga and Mātauranga Māori of the oceanic environment to tangata whenua through knowledge sharing, project collaborations and partnership.

Lydia Green, 2017

Lydia Green

Founder / Project Director

Lydia is an experienced marine ecologist and has worked with manta rays since 2013, researching manta ray populations in Fiji, Mexico, the Maldives and New Zealand. Lydia founded Manta Watch New Zealand Charitable Trust and has been Project Manager since 2017. She has extensive knowledge of oceanic manta rays in NZ waters and manages the project’s national sightings and photo identification databases. Lydia is an experienced marine educator and is MWANZ’s primary contact for community engagement and outreach programs.

Dr Emily Roberts

Trustee / Citizen Science Advisor

Emily currently works as Taranaki Regional Council’s Environmental Education Officer and is passionate about community driven science and conservation. She has developed and facilitated a multitude of highly successful citizen science projects including Project Hot Spot and Dotterel Defenders and is well known for her Backyard Biodiversity lockdown series. Prior to embracing citizen science, Emily had extensive experience working in marine biological monitoring and was a senior marine biology lecturer at the University of Swansea in Wales where she specialised in phytoplankton.


MWANZ was formed in December 2017 and became a New Zealand registered charity in February 2020.

Our Research

Our Research Team

Our research team consists of experienced marine scientists and educators specalised in multifaceted manta ray research and conservation, including:

  • Research project development and implementation.
  • Manta ray conservation management in developed and developing countries.
  • Manta ray satellite tagging and analysis.
  • Experienced in in-water interactions with manta rays via SCUBA and free diving.
  • Aerial and underwater drone pilots.
  • Working with indigenous communities to create long term sustainable conservation outcomes.
  • Establishing successful citizen science and community driven projects.

Tamsin Cooper (MSc)

Oceanic manta ray foraging ecology in the Hauraki Gulf

Rikako Orzaki (MSc)

Understanding the distribution of Oceanic manta rays and Spinetail devil rays over space and time


Our charity is proud to collaborate with the University of Auckland in supporting the next generation of manta ray scientists, furthering oceanic manta ray research in Aotearoa NZ.

Our Research Partners

Our Supporters

Massive thanks to our amazing sponsors, supporters and friends for seeing value in our manta mahi and enabling us to do what we do.

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