This video was created with the collaboration of many passionate people, who all love care and work with manta rays. It is to highlight the ongoing threats that all manta and mobula species face in a market place driven but monetary rewards for poor environmental practices.
We hope to be able to use this video and Coral Bay to highlight, that in a high economic environment, like Australia, whole populations CAN make livings and sustain a high level of living, because of a successfully monitored, practiced and environmentally conscious tourism industry based around these impressive animals.
Manta rays have long since been one of those iconic species that every diver and ocean lover has wanted to swim with and experience the rush you get from looking in the eye of an intelligent animal, like manta rays. To have that personal connection is something you don’t get to have very often, but when you swim with manta rays it can feel like you really make a connection.
These beautiful and majestic ocean giants are becoming increasingly threatened. They are being targeted and killed and new fisheries have been created in countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mozambique. These fisheries have been created to meet the growing demand for manta ray gill rakers. These are said to be used in traditional Chinese medicine, but historically there is no evidence for this product ever being regarded as a traditional medicine.
This is a new product has been created as the demand for shark fin reaches its pinnacle, and fishermen can no longer supply the increasing demand, they turn to a new species and invent new medicinal benefits for the emerging manta ray gill raker products.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners claim, that as the manta ray uses the gills to filter food, the gills will have the same medicinal effects when consumed. Maintaining that the gills can filter toxins from the blood stream, help with asthma and some even promote the product as a cure for cancer! None of these medicinal benefits have any scientific backing behind them.
Manta rays in 2011 were listed and upgraded to be a venerable species in the IUCN list (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Listing both species, Manta alfredi, the reef or costal manta ray commonly seen in and around Coral Bay and Manta birostris, which is known as the Giant Manta Ray or Oceanic Manta under its protection.
Manta species have also been included on this March 2013 as part of Appendix II on the, Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), for a voluntary agreement not to trade in manta ray parts for around 175 countries.
As the migratory patterns and definitions for manta rays are largely unknown, they have also been listed as a protected species on the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). This affords them the protection they need to conserve migratory species throughout their range. Since 2011 and the listing of both manta ray species on the Appendix II of the IUCN list, the 116 nations are obliged to provide and protect key areas of habitat and the species within the nations waters.
However even with all this protection, Manta ray species and mobular rays are still under threat!
Hundreds are being taken and targeted every day, killed for their gill rakers alone, as the meat is of poor quality and of very little monetary value.