Have you dived or snorkeled with a manta ray? Imagine a creature the size of your desk or even your bed gliding gracefully above you. Mantas can dive to depths of more than 1,000 metres, they roam the oceans in search of food, never resting, constantly swimming to survive.
It’s a magical moment when these captivating creatures open their giant mouths to filter plankton from the water. Known as filter feeders, they swim through the water funneling the plankton through their gills. The plankton is trapped in their gill rakers and swallowed.
Unfortunately it’s their gill rakers which make mantas a target for unsustainable fishing. Traded for use in Chinese medicine, the market for gill rakers is on the rise.
As more divers and snorkelers show interest in mantas it’s clear that sustainable tourism can provide long term economic benefits that greatly outweigh short term returns from fishing.
Some countries have protected manta rays, but additional regional efforts to study and conserve manta rays, is urgently needed.
In 2011 Project AWARE joined other conservation organizations to urge the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) to add the giant manta ray to CMS Appendix I and II. And we did it! Listed on November 25, 2011, member countries are now obligated to provide strict national protections for giant manta rays and their key habitats.
International trade is currently not restricted for manta rays under CITES, but with your help we plan to secure listing for manta and devil rays. You can sign our shark petition to help make this happen. Project AWARE’s Marine Conservation Officer David Roe is at ADEX Singapore this week.
And the theme this year is Manta Rays! Dave will be collecting petition signatures to help secure further protection for manta and devil rays. Visit Dave at ADEX Singapore and shout out for manta and devil rays whilst you’re there! ADEX Singapore 13-15 April 2012.