Incredible, breathtaking, mesmerizing. There are so many words to describe a manta ray encounter and if you've been lucky enough to dive with one, you'll never forget the experience.
Sadly, both the giant manta and reef manta face an uncertain future. Globally threatened and exceptionally vulnerable, intensified fishing pressure in warm waters around the world is pushing mantas to the brink. Yet, in just a few days time CITES delegates will have the power to change manta's fate.
From 3rd -15th March, CITES leaders have the opportunity to regulate the very trade that drive the depletion of manta populations around the world.
The gill rakers of manta rays are traded internationally, primarily to China and Singapore, for use in an increasingly popular Asian health tonic. This trade goes on unregulated and unmonitored. Yet the long term economic benefits from manta tourism greatly outweighs the short term returns from fishing. Globally, the annual value of manta-based tourism has been estimated at more than US $75 million.
The International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies both manta species as Globally Vulnerable. Late maturity, a lengthy gestation and only one pup every two years makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing.
Before decisions are made next month, you can help amplify the call to protect them:
1.Sign the petition urging CITES member countries to give sharks and rays much needed protections.
2.Send a letter direct to CITES authorities urging them to vote “Yes” for sharks and rays.
Special thanks to Guillermo Munro of www.memuco.org