Why manta rays matter
CAUSE OF THE MONTH
Manta ray conservation
Manta rays are gentle giants
The ocean is home to just two species of manta ray: the reef manta ray, which can be distinguished by the white color around its mouth, and the giant oceanic manta ray, which is the largest ray species on the planet and can be distinguished by the dark color around its mouth.
Giant manta rays can measure up to 23-feet long, have a 29-foot wingspan, and weigh over 5,000 pounds. Unlike the reef manta, which tends to hang out in specific coastal areas in tropical and subtropical waters, giant mantas are highly migratory and travel thousands of miles across the ocean alone or in groups.
Despite their enormous size, manta rays are gentle giants that prefer plankton over fish. As filter feeders, they swim with their mouths wide open and use special structures in their gills to strain plankton and other nutritious snacks from the water.
Manta ray populations are declining globally
In less than 90 years, manta ray populations have declined by nearly 80 percent. This rapid decline has changed their conservation status from vulnerable to endangered. Without ongoing efforts to clean the ocean and protect manta rays, populations will continue to decline.
No filter for plastic
Thirty to 50 years ago, everything in the ocean was edible. If a manta ray opened its mouth, it was getting food. Now, up to half of what these filter feeders consume is plastic. When ocean plastic is ingested, it can introduce toxins that damage their health, impact their ability to reproduce, and hinder efforts to recover their populations.
Mantas are also uniquely vulnerable to entanglement in plastic debris because they migrate such vast distances across the ocean. Long lines, gill nets, drift nets, and other fishing gear pose the biggest entanglement risk. Bycatch in the commercial industry, poaching for the illegal gill plate trade, and habitat loss are also major threats to their recovery globally.
PARTNER OF THE MONTH
Indonesian Manta Project
We’re donating $1 to Indonesian Manta Project for every Manta Ray Bracelet sold this month. Our donation will advance manta ray conservation by funding long-term research that will guide the creation and enforce policies that protect these gentle giants.