Devil Ray Researcher

The devil rays fishery project monitors a targeted fishery in order to assess local ray populations and provide management propositions.

Mobulid rays (Family Mobulidae), commonly known as 'devil rays', comprise the genus Mobula and the genus Manta. Five species have been recorded in the Bohol Sea, the spine tail devil ray (Mobula japanica), bent fin devil ray (Mobula thurstoni), sickle fin devil ray (Mobula tarapacana), and the iconic oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris) and reef manta ray (Manta alfredi). All these species are listed as 'vulnerable' within the South East Asia region under the IUCN Red List, with the exception of the sickle fin devil ray, data deficient. Currently, these pelagic animals face significant threat in the Philippines as century-old mobulid fisheries thrived around the Bohol Sea. Nowadays, with the collapse of most of these fisheries, Jagna, in Bohol Island, remains one of the last and the largest mobulid fishery in the country. While M. birostris has been protected in the Philippines since 1998, the species is still regularly caught, and no protection or national fishery regulation exist for the other species.

A LAMAVE team, lead by a Principal Investigator (PI), is studying priority research questions on the ecology and biology of mobulid rays in a landing site. Current studies are focusing on the description of life-history and reproductive parameters, which are fundamental to improving demographic models and support fishery management plans. The possibility of over-fishing needs to be examined and addressed, while alternative livelihoods for the locals communities of this island need to be established, and awareness raised. One of LAMAVE’s cornerstone is to work with the local community in developing and promoting alternative livelihoods to help them overcome their fear of losing their income source.

Teamwork is essential during and after field work. The team may work as a single unit. The studysite is the fishery landing site, volunteers have to be able to deal with dead animals and bloody circumstances. We are on site from when the first boat arrives until the final boat returns, thus you may sometimes be ready to spend hours waiting.

Volunteer duties include:

  • Collecting morphometric data
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Tissue sample collection and processing
  • Aiding with coinciding research projects
  • Photo documentation and sorting 
  • Data entry
  • GPS deployment and downloading 
  • Assisting in information, education & communication (IEC) campaigns

Morphometric and anatomic data – measurements and morpho-anatomic data are recorded from specimens landed every day, with a range of measurements being taken for each animal. It includes measuring individuals but also collecting internal organs. The Samples collection – Samples may be required from some of the measured animals, depending on the desired research outcomes. Samples can include tissues, parasites, stomach content and specific organs. A tissue sample from any Manta spp or M. tarapacana caught is always taken to be stored at the project base. Process tissue samples collected Photos – Photo identifications of the specimens recorded, photo of interests, proofs and documentations are taken systematically in the field. Data Input – Upon returning to the project base, data from the day are inputted to the database, photos are sorted. Accuracy of Data – Accuracy in transcribing data is essential, as this data that will be analyzed and implemented into LAMAVE scientific literature. Any mistakes will compromise the accuracy of our research. The GPS deployment – A GPS is deployed daily on each boat going out fishing. Equipment maintenance – clean, organize, prepare the material after/before the field. It is the responsibility of each of the team member to handle equipment carefully, especially considering field conditions. Salty water, sun, high humidity level, and high temperature, damage equipment faster. Education and Communication – Organize and coordinate events with the community such as beach cleanup or documentary showin. 

Devil Ray Researcher documentary showing to local community sunrise at the landing site Jagna educational campain Devil Ray Researcher

Suitable for


Typical day

04:30 – 10:00 Data collection
11:00 – 12:00 Lab work
13:30 – 16:00 Data processing, computer work
16:00 – 20:00 Free time
20:00 Bed time

Program Requirements

Minimum Age
In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Education Requirements
Biology at University level
Required Documents
CV and resume
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
A degree or relevant background in biology or ecology is preferable.
Ability to work long hours with early starts, independently and in a team setting.
Willing to work with dead animals.
Willing to work with local comunities.
We look for persons who are highly motivated, eager to learn, have a positive attitude, and are comfortable living in a shared home and in a remote setting with only basic amenities.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 06:00 - 15:00

Any questions? Just ask. We at Large Marine Vertebrates Project are happy to help you.

Free-time activities

Around Jagna and Bohol, most of the leisurely activities are nature-based. Near and within Jagna are waterfalls and springs, forest trails, and numerous resorts. The perfect white sendy beach of Anda is about 45 minutes by bus. Other options include a trip to the popular Chocolate Hills, ziplining over the Loboc River, visiting the numerous old churches, seeing one of the world's smallest primates (tarsier) in their natural habitat, scuba diving and snorkeling. Movie theaters in Tagbilaran City are decent and the movies are up to date.

Two major cities are accessible via a two-hour ferry ride from Tagbilaran: Cebu and Dumaguete City.



What's included?
Accommodation, 3 daily meals, and transport to/from the study site are included in the fees. 
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.

Volunteers live in a basic house, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a livingroom and a kitchen. There is a backyard with couple of coconut trees.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

Volunteer fees are covering 3 meals a day. 

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
Costs (Prices in USD)
12 weeks (min. stay)
13 weeks
14 weeks
15 weeks
17 weeks
19 weeks
28 weeks (max. stay)

You can volunteer at the project site in Jagna/Philippines between 12 weeks and 28 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Large Marine Vertebrates Project will tell you your final price during your application process.
Average Fees
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Large Marine Vertebrates Project during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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What's next?

The nearest airport is Tagbilaran (TAG) in Tagbilaran. We assist you to find cheap flights to Philippines.
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