Help Save the MANTA

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Mantas are usually encountered in the tropical seas.

In the Philippines, mantas are usually seen at the Manta Bowl inTicao Pass, Tubbataha and Apo Reef. There were also instances when mantas were sighted in Anilao and Puerto Galera but it is a rarity. The mantas very low reproductive rate (1 to 2 pups/year) plus the absence of local and international laws to protect them as well as the increase in demand for their meat as a delicacy or for their gill rakers as a traditional chinese medicine for treatment of cancer, have contributed to the decline in their population and have lead to the depleting number of manta sightings worldwide. Rare are the dives we get to encounter these graceful creatures and experience a fleeting yet unforgettable thrill from it. Dave’s recent dive trip to Tubbataha yielded only 1 sighting of a juvenille manta for the entire trip.

It’s important that we follow these simple rules to increase our enjoyment and protect the manta from injury.

 

  1. Enter the water carefully so as not to scare them away.
  2. Stay still, they will come to you.
  3. Position yourself along the bottom or near a cleaning station.
  4. Do not chase them. Stay within their vision and let them decide if they want you to approach them.
  5. Do not touch them, even if they present their bellies for a rub. Friction from touching removes the natural protective layer that guards their skin from disease.
  6. Avoid exhaling bubbles into their face. However, some manta may actually enjoy the bubbles on their undersides.
  7. Mantas are generally not bothered by flash photography or video. But first observe their behavior.
  8. Do not disturb them if they are engaged in feeding, cleaning or mating.
  9. Attempt direct eye contact. They generally welcome a friendly connection.
  10. Do not ride mantas, even though they may “present” themselves for riding.

REFERENCE: AsianDiver Jun/Jul 2003 Issue

 

If you are interested in helping conserve these magnificent giants you can log on to the Manta Network to become a member, to subscribe to their newsletter, to adopt a manta or volunteer to help.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Orly de Leon (Palau, Micronesia)

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