Manta rays are particularly close to our hearts here at Hidden Depths Diving as they are regular visitors to the dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang and we visit these sites twice a week in the hope of an encounter.
For anyone who has dived with these magnificent creatures, the idea that they are being hunted is truly appalling. Unfortunately, due to a demand for their gill rakers, manta rays are being heavily fished and are now named on the IUCN ‘Red List’ as vulnerable.
A tonic prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses the gill rakers and has sparked an increase in demand. This tonic has only come in to use in recent years and there is no evidence of its’ effectiveness.
Numbers of manta rays are declining as fishermen hunt these beautiful animals. A fisherman will receive US$100 per manta ray. The value of manta ray tourism to The Maldives is in the region of US$8 million. Manta rays have a huge economic value to communities as well as an important place in our oceans. It is hoped that raising awareness at a local level will reduce the culling.
Organizations such as Project Aware and Shark Savers are running campaigns to raise awareness of this terrible problem. Check out this video made by the Manta Ray of Hope campaign to learn more about this threat.