Satellite Tagging and Manta Ray Conservation

By Kayleigh Michaelides
Marine conservation student

The Manta Ray:

The giant manta ray (Manta birostris) is the world’s largest ray species with a disc width of up to 7m from wing tip to wing tip (Graham et al. 2012). Despite their large size, mantas are harmless to humans. Manta rays have a broad distribution throughout the world’s tropical and temperate oceans, and little is known about the size of the global population (Marshall et al. 2011). Manta rays aggregate in large groups in areas off the coasts of Mexico, Mozambique, Hawaii, and the Maldives. It is thought they gather in these areas to breed and visit cleaning stations (Graham et al. 2012). Manta rays are long lived, late to mature, and produce 1 to 2 live pups every few years, making them vulnerable to fishing pressure and slow to recover from population threats or disturbances (Marshall et al. 2012). The rate of population decline in the past 75 years in parts of their range may be as high as 80%. Globally, it is suspected that manta rays are declining at an estimated 30%. This population decline has been attributed mainly to both targeted fishing and incidental (by-catch) mortality (Marshall et al. 2012). Currently, M. birostris is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

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