Manta-Ray-Gill-SlitsFollow the attached link to view the Ocean Artist Society’s new video, Reasons to Dance promoting the conservation of Manta Rays.  There is much work to be done to protect these magnificent creatures.  http://www.oceanartistssociety.org/?page_id=249

As an Ocean Artist Society member, this film and ezine are both important and informative.  We can only protect and help manage our resources if we have knowledge and understanding.  Hopefully this film and ezine provide you with both.  Manta Rays Kona Hawaii, Manta birostris, (Walbaum, 1792), Kona Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

The Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, can be found in the world’s major oceans from roughly 30 south latitude to Oceanic Manta Ray Rangeapproximately 40 north latitude.  Though these rays are widely distributed their individual population groups are thought to be relatively small, ranging from a 100 or less to as much as 1,000 individuals and the overall population size is unknown.  The IUCN Red List, designates the Oceanic Manta Ray as Vulnerable due mainly to the significant amount over fishing in many areas.  Manta Rays, command a high value in international trade, mainly due to the use of recent introduction of Manta’s gill rakers into Chinese traditional medicine.  This has led to unsustainable fishing activities in many traditional habitats for these beautiful rays.  The rate of reduction appears to be especially high in some regions with as much as an 80% reduction in certain regions and as much as a 30% decline is suspected globally.  Populations in the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico appear to have been depleted while other populations in Sri Lanka and India are believed to be decreasing.  Manta birostris IUCN Red List

Recent progress has been made with Indonesia in particular creating the world’s largest sanctuary for these wonderful rays, encompassing over 6 million square kilometers.  New Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rules for sharks and manta rays also went into effect in September of 2014 based upon unprecedented cooperation between member countries.  Also, Scuba diving tourism, a growing industry that has demonstrated significant, sustainable economic value compared to the short-term commercial fishing opportunities, offers the opportunities to generate economic benefit while helping to sustain and grow population groups.  While tourism industries can also negatively impact individual behavior and critical habitat, responsible development activities can provide local economic opportunities while at the same time helping to protect these wonderful creatures.

Manta Ray ballet

Manta Ray ballet

We should take heart that some progress has been made but we must stay vigilant and continue to pressure governments to control and eliminate unsustainable fishing activities and instead focus on how we can co-exist with this wonderful species.

Feel free to contact me or any of the other Ocean Artist Members for more information.  Visit my Manta Ray gallery for more photos of these amazing creatures.

 

 

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