Home‎ > ‎



Manta rays are receiving more and more protection 

Both Manta species were listed on the CITES last year (March 2013)
Since then, manta rays are now officially protected in Indonesia and in Australia (Queensland). 


Sign the petition to get the mantas listed on CITES

This convention will help stop the international trade of manta rays products and regulate fisheries

18th March 2012

Manta rays on TV 

9th March 2012


Divers help manta ray research

Northern NSW divers have been contributing to the success of the Project Manta research program being conducted in eastern Australia by reporting sightings of tagged rays in Cape Byron Marine Park. 

A manta ray with a Project Manta acoustic telemetry tag was recently photographed by a local dive master at Julian Rocks and Cape Byron Marine Park staff are continuing to provide photographs of manta rays to the research effort. 

Project Manta researcher, Lydie Couturier, said that manta ray individuals can be recognised by looking at the spot pattern on their bellies. 

“It is like a fingerprint and is different for each manta,” Ms Couturier said. 

“Project Manta uses a combination of techniques including: photo identification, acoustic telemetry, satellite tracking, oceanography and plankton investigation to learn more about these ocean wanderers. 

“Community-support has allowed for major discoveries, including the biggest migration recorded for this species of manta ray - Manta alfredi - which has been shown to travel more than 500 km between Lady Elliot Island and Byron Bay. 

“Project Manta heavily relies on public involvement to monitor the migration and aggregation sites of manta rays along the coast.” 

Cape Byron Marine Park ranger, Dave Maguire said that manta rays are regularly sighted in the marine park, particularly in the vicinity of Julian Rocks. 

“Manta rays are gentle giants and they don’t have a barb on their tail,” Mr Maguire said. 

“They are one of the biggest fish in the world, but feed on plankton, the smallest creatures of the ocean.  

“The manta rays are seasonal visitors that are a part of the incredible diversity of marine life found in Cape Byron Marine Park. 

“They are an inquisitive fish and will often approach divers. 

“It is important not to touch or ride the manta rays as it would remove the thin protective mucus from their skin and could cause injury.”  

Divers can be involved with Project Manta and contribute to the conservation and protection of manta rays and their habitat by sharing their manta ray photos and completing a sighting report at project.manta@uq.edu.au 

“It is fantastic to see local businesses such as Sundive and Byron Bay Dive Centre working in partnership with the community and researchers for the benefit of these majestic animals,” Mr Maguire said.

While the manta season is near its end, photographers who have already captured images they want to submit need to make sure that for each photo, the date, location and name of the photographer is provided.  

If a new individual is identified from contributed photographs, the photographer will be able to name the mantas pictured. 

For more information contact project.manta@uq.edu.au, or visit Facebook “Project MANTA - The manta rays of eastern Australia” or visit https://sites.google.com/site/projectmantasite/ 

For more information on the Cape Byron Marine Park, visit www.mpa.nsw.gov.au 

Media contact: Howard Spencer 02 66568825 or 0428 696672

24th January 2012

Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays report is out and available online

The full press release and the report can be downloaded from the attachments provided at the bottom this page


[Lydie Couturier, PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland – l.couturier@uq.edu.au]

Project MANTA contributes to landmark study on global threats to manta and mobula rays

Brisbane, Australia (January 19th, 2012) – Project MANTA is pleased to announce that a landmark report we contributed to, entitled “Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays” has been released. The Manta Ray of Hope report details the plight of rapidly disappearing manta and mobula species due to extreme fishing pressure that is largely unknown by the general public or conservationists.

The Manta Ray of Hope Project is a joint initiative by international conservation organizations Shark Savers and WildAid with the participation of Project MANTA and other top field investigators, leading scientists and researchers, all working together to further the conservation of manta and mobula rays.

“Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays” is a comprehensive report documenting worldwide manta and mobula declines due to the trade in their gills. The report provides the most far-reaching research ever conducted into both the intensive overfishing of mantas and mobulas as well as the trade in their gill rakers that are driving mantas and mobulas to the point of potential population collapse.

The destruction of ray populations is the result of demand for their gill rakers, with an estimated market value of $11 million annually. That is a fraction of the value of manta and mobula ray tourism, which is estimated at over $100 million per year, globally. Mantas and mobulas are one of the most sought-after underwater attractions for divers and snorkelers.

“All mobulid species are being targeted where these intensive fisheries occur. Considering their conservative life histories, manta and mobula populations could be regionally decimated in only a few more years if this trade is not regulated soon.” said Ms Couturier. “…Although no direct threats are currently known for mobulid species in eastern Australia, manta and mobula rays are not protected from fisheries, and could potentially attract undesired attention if the demand in mobulid products keeps increasing. These species need to be globally protected” commented Ms Couturier

Manta and mobula ray populations are severely impacted by any targeted fishing because they have extremely limited reproductive biology. These rays can take ten or more years to reach sexual maturity and typically produce only one pup every two to three years. In comparison, even the great white shark which is listed under CITES Appendix II and widely considered to be one of the world’s most vulnerable marine species, may produce as many pups in one litter as a manta ray does over its entire lifetime.

The gills of manta and mobula rays are dried and boiled for preparation as a health tonic that is purported to treat a wide range of ailments. Yet the report’s researchers did not find the gill raker remedy listed in the official Traditional Chinese Medicine manual. However, that has not prevented its use as a pseudo-medicinal tonic, driven by direct marketing to consumers by importers in Guangzhou, China, the primary destination for this trade.

Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays highlights what is known about the remarkable biology and ecology of manta and mobula rays, explains the extreme threats they face, describes the fisheries and trade that target these rays, and offers some solutions via alternative, non-consumptive uses for communities to profit from them, sustainably. The information provided in the report will enable decision-makers to move swiftly in enacting critical protections for manta and mobula rays.

Project MANTA is proud to be part of such an amazing collaborative initiative that will greatly contribute to the management and conservation of mobulid rays.

About Project MANTA: Project MANTA is a research program established in 2007at the University of Queensland, which investigates the manta ray population in eastern Australia. This research aims to provide much needed information on the biology and ecology of manta ray species through rigorous scientific research. This knowledge will feed into conservation and protection measures for the species and its habitat, both locally and internationally. In addition, Project MANTA is dedicated to raise public awareness and education on manta rays and their marine environment and has beneficiated of an incredible community support from local dive clubs, professional photographers and recreational divers, which allowed for some key discoveries. For more information: https://sites.google.com/site/projectmantasite/

About Shark Savers: Shark Savers was founded in 2007 by six long-time divers driven by a shared passion – to save the world’s dwindling shark and ray populations. Today, more than 20,000 members from 99 nations share that passion. Focusing on action and results, Shark Savers programs result in saving the lives of sharks and rays. By leveraging professional experience and expertise, Shark Savers brings this important issue to the masses in many compelling forms, motivating people to stop consuming sharks and shark fin soup, and working for the creation of shark sanctuaries and other protections. For more information, please visit www.sharksavers.org

About WildAid: WildAid focuses on addressing the human threat to wildlife. Our comprehensive approach includes public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to reduce consumer demand for wildlife products, and working with communities to support and enforce key protected habitats around the world. For more information, please visit www.wildaid.org.
About Manta Ray of Hope Project: The Manta Ray of Hope Project is a joint initiative that includes top field investigators, leadings scientists and researchers, all working together to further the conservation of manta and mobula rays. The project was founded by Shark Savers and WildAid, with support from the Silvercrest Foundation, Hrothgar Investments, and private donors. Manta Ray of Hope is developing global conservation campaigns based on sound science, including:
  • Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays, a comprehensive study of the destructive fishing and consumption of Mobulids.
  • Establishment of trade bans and sanctuaries.
  • Education and awareness campaigns for consumers.
  • Ecotourism development in fishing communities.

For more information,: http://www.mantarayofhope.com

To download photographs and Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays, go to: www.sharksavers.org/mantas


Lydie Couturier,
Jan 23, 2012, 3:35 PM
Lydie Couturier,
Jan 23, 2012, 3:34 PM