Manta-Ray-Gill-SlitsReasons to Dance,  a video created by the Ocean Artist Society’s, promotes the conservation of Manta Rays.  There is much work to be done to protect these magnificent creatures.

As an Ocean Artist Society member, the Reasons to Dance 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

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.  These populations range from a 100 or less to as much as 1,000 individuals.  Although 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.  Furthermore, Manta Rays, command a high value in international trade.  This is due mainly 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 which have seen as much as an 80% reduction.  Globally it is thought that as much as a 30% decline may have occurred.  Populations in the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico appear to have been depleted.  Moreover,  populations in Sri Lanka and India are believed to be decreasing.  Manta birostris IUCN Red List

Progress

In spite of these trials, recent progress has been made in Indonesia.  In fact, Indonesia has created the world’s largest sanctuary for these wonderful rays, encompassing over 6 million square kilometers.  A new Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for sharks and manta rays went into effect in 2014  Reasons to Dance focuses on spreading awareness and conservation.  Furthermore, these rules were based upon unprecedented cooperation between member countries.

In addition, Scuba diving tourism has proven to be a growing industry that has demonstrated significant, sustainable economic value.  This is in contrast to the short-term commercial fishing opportunities.  Tourism offers opportunities to generate economic benefit to countries.  Additionally helping to sustain and grow population groups of Manta Rays.  While tourism industries can negatively impact individual behavior and critical habitat, responsible development activities can provide local economic opportunities.  At the same time, Tourism can help to protect these wonderful creatures.

Manta Ray ballet

Manta Ray ballet

Overall, we should take heart that some progress has been made.  However, we must stay vigilant and continue to pressure governments to control and eliminate unsustainable fishing activities.  We should 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.

Please lend your voice of support.

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