Manta rays are some pretty majestic creatures if I do say so myself. These 3, 600 pound animals will slowly glide through the water as they are filter feeding or even just observe their surroundings. There are two species of Mantas, Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi) and Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris) (Marshall et al. 2009). One study found that every 1 in 4 of the Manta alfredi found off of Maui had shark related injuries, most likely from a tiger shark (Deakos, Mark H et al 2011). The injuries were equally present in both the females and males. Both species of Mantas face one big threat-fishing. Sometimes these fishing threats are not intentional, but there are times that these mantas are targeted. In parts of the world Mantas are highly sought over in the international trade market (IUCN Red List). You are probably wondering why they are so highly sought over? In Hong Kong they are using the dried brachial plates for traditional medicinal practices despite a lack of scientific evidence. In Indonesia, a fisherman can make approximately $140 for the dried brachial plates and $6 for the dried skin from one manta (Dewar, Heidi 2002). That is not including the money they will make off of 20 dried rings of meat, which will be sent off to be used for wallets and shoes. Between the months of May and October, it is manta-fishing season where one boat will land anywhere between 25-50 manta during the season (Dewar, Heidi 2002). It only ends in the rainy season because they are unable to dry the skin. Mantas have also been caught for their cartilage, just to be used as a filler in shark fin soup.
In 2009, the Governor of Hawaii signed the House Bill 366 creating Act 092(09). This Act made penalties and fines to be administered to those that intentionally capture or kill any manta rays within the waters of the state. While these animals are listed as vulnerable, any Manta that passes through the Hawaiian waters is protected, not just the ones that live amongst the islands in order to help make sure those numbers don’t go down any more than they have already(IUCN Redlist). Post by: @flyingturtle13
Video by @nani.moana of mantas off the big island