Now you’re back on land we are so grateful that you are submitting your photos, thanks to photographers like you we have an ever growing database learning more about these majestic creatures! In order to do our job more efficiently, we ask you to follow a few steps when submitting your photos.
image organization

Folder Name: The first folder should be titled the same as the name of the email, with the "photographer name, boat name, trip start date, and trip end date." This folder should then contain folders organized by island, and then within each island folder there should be images of each of the mantas. Each photo should be named with the manta number, the date, the dive site, and the image number (if there are multiple images for that manta). The photos can be titled with the above format followed by a number if there are multiple images for that manta on that date. For example, Manta 1,20Dec2021,ElCañon (1) and Manta 1,20Dec2021,ElCañon (2).

Use this link to download template folders to help organize your photos before or after your trip! 

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Your photos are on loan to us. Without your permission, we cannot ask our interns to sort and classify images, print them in the boats' Photo-ID Guides, or use them in talks and presentations, etc.

Please fill out our Agreement form and circle each of the uses in the list for which you give us permission and enter your contact info. Thank you ever so much! We would love to have your permission to use your images in our research!

Individual photos
If you have one to ten photos, you can use the Small Batch Submission Form to submit the images.
groups of photos
You can now transfer large groups of photos with We Transfer to our project manager Karey Kumli at
photo id questions:
If you have any questions regarding photo submission or the Photo ID Catalog please contact our project manager Karey Kumli at ""


Taking Good Photos:

Our photo-ID work is entirely dependent on photo submission from folks like yourself, and we are so very appreciative of you sharing your work with us! Visual identification depends on information on the contours around the mantas' markings, rather than artistic images, and visual information is what we work with. A mantas' undersurface markings, or a good part of them, must be visible in order to compare it with images in our database, and thus to identify it. No need to process the images as we have scripts for that. Hopefully, you will be able to include the pelvic fins so that we can identify sex, and with black mantas this requires flash or close-up. Images of wounds or scars on identifiable animals are very useful- we hope you won't see many, but if you do, we would like to see these as well. 

Manta Marking Regions:

The ideal photo would be a flat manta belly, with no fish or divers or bubbles obscuring its markings. That said, any photograph that gives us visual information about an animal's markings is worthwhile. We are happy to receive photos of parts of mantas, so long as enough of the markings are revealed to permit later identification. We identify mantas using the demarcation line or interface between light areas and dark areas, so sharp contrast is appreciated. For chevron mantas, an entire belly with bellymarkings, will do. A set of gills with marks below them. One wing alone is sufficient, if the demarcation line, between the white belly and gray band at the edge of its wind, is curvaceous. For black mantas, one white "arm" rising up along the outside of the gills. The edge of the "head" between the gills. We value the pelvic fins, in front of the tail, as they show the sex of the manta. Video is valuable for its continuity between frames of a manta turning or sliding by, revealing the markings in sequence if not all together.


​​High contrast between the markings and the rest of the body makes identification much easier. If you are shooting up at a bright sea surface, use spot metering, point at the center of the animal, and zoom in excluding as much of the sea surface as possible. A wide-angle lens permits you to be close to the manta for a clear image and to capture most of the animal's belly. Date stamping on the face of the image can obstruct identifiable markings. It is very important to note both date and location of your photographs. Setting your camera's internal clock to the correct local time (GMT-6 or -7 depending on the season) is very useful. If you use metadata from date, time, location, photographer, that's great! Metadata is retained when transferring images, however the file date shown in a computer filing system often is the transfer date. We are very grateful to each and every one of you for contributing to this project. Without you, the photographers, this entire study would be only a dream.