Education through travel…. Manta Rays

Brad Frankel

Manta Rays

I have had the pleasure of diving with some of the words most amazing marine animals, however I am yet to dive with these beautiful specimens, but that is going to change because the Flooglebinder team are currently in Indonesia I will be diving with Manta rays until my hearts content. We are setting up our new project in Indonesia and this will be live as of June this year.

Todays focus is Manta Rays (Manta birostris)

Manta Rays (Manta birostris)

This genus was recently re-evaluated and split into two species, Reef manta ray (Manta alfred) and the Giant manta ray (Manta birostris) and it has been suggested that their could be a 3rd species yet to be confirmed (Marshall et al, 2009). These awesome animals don’t just plod along in the ocean and casually feed then do something called barrel rolling, basically somersaulting in the ocean with their mouths open consuming up to 60lbs of plankton a day, thats eating with style.

Manta Ray facts

Like most reef fishes mantas attend cleaning stations to have their parasites removed. Mantas give birth every other year to a single pauper a pair of pups that arrive rolled up like a sausage roll. Mantas can grow to approximately 9m from wing tip to wing tip, this is HUGE! It has not been scientifically claimed yet but suggestive reasons as to why they leap out of the water are; to impress females during courtship; intraspecific communication; to escape predators and or to control parasites. Mantas were only split into two different species in 2009, research on this species is drastically needed. Mantas have distinctive spots on their underneath section and this makes it easier for researchers to identify them (Discover Wildlife, 2015).

Threats to Mantas

The IUCN Red List lists manta rays as vulnerable and suggests that the main threats threatening their very existence are fishing and by-catch. Manta rays are currently killed by harpooning, netting and trawling, unfortunately mantas are easy targets due to their large size, slow swimming speed and predictable habitat use. Mantas are of high value for the international market and their gill rakers fetch a high price and used in asian medicinal products. Aside from direct fisheries mantas are accidentally caught as by-catch in large scale fishing and small getting programs such as shark control bather protect nets. from 2000-2007 the reported catch in tonnes increased from 900 to 3,300, this dramatic increase in catch is devastating to the populations and subpopulations of this species and conservation strategies are so vital in helping this species survive (IUCN Red lIST, 2015). Current MPA’s (marine protected areas) and fishing bans really contribute to the survival of this species but education and education and education is the main element here, don’t just read this blog, don’t just give money, if you want to conserve something then DO SOMETHING about it. Get out there and see what difference you can make.

#StayInTheFloogle

This is our 12th blog that is geared to fit in and around your Extended Diploma or Degrees in Animal Management. Here is last weeks blog on Elephants.

Next week on Education Through Travel we will look at….? wait and see.

If you have any questions regarding your animal management assignments, email me on ian@flooglebinder.co.uk

References

Discover Wildlife, 2015., Discover Wildlife.org

IUCN Red List, 2015., IUCNREDLIST.org

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