It's been a while, sorry! I'll post as often as I can with school. This article is devastating, we desperately need to protect the surviving populations. Shark fins and rhinoceros horns, now manta ray gills.. this mindless harvesting of beautiful rare species must stop.
Manta Rays Fate Worse Than Sharks
January 25, 2012 5:01:06 AM
As the population of sharks has depleted, fishermen are turning more and more to Manta Rays - animals unfit, in the most Darwinian sense of the word, to handle the pressure.
Manta Rays take 10 years to reach maturity and females give birth to "a single pup every two to three years," ray researcher Mike Bennett of the University of Queensland told ABC Science:
By comparison, a Great White Shark, which is 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 worldwide decline in Manta and their cousins the Mobula Rays, is documented in a recent study released by the conservation organizations, Shark Savers and WildAid. The study, Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays, began by following the trade in gill rakers, the cartilaginous part of the rays that helps them filter feed.
"We first came across manta and mobula ray gills in Asian markets several years ago and followed the trail to the dried seafood markets of Southern China. It's sad to see these animals follow the same path to extinction as sharks," conservation photographer and lead investigator Paul Hilton said in a statement.
Currently the IUCN Red List of threatened species lists both the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris) and the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) as vulnerable and Smoothtail Devil Rays (Mobula thurstoni) as only in a slightly better situation, that of near-threatened.
The study also valued the life of a Manta Ray at US$1 million, the income one animal makes for local eco-tourism. The market value for gill rakers? An estimated $11 million annually, according to the study. Making the value of the animal alive a much more lucrative investment. The tourism industry for snorkling and scuba diving with rays is estimated at over $100 million per year, globally.
Vulnerable Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris) entangled in a fisherman's net, in Yap, Micronesia. (Corbis)
Near-threatened Smoothtail Devil Rays (Mobula thurstoni aka Mobula lucasana) slaughtered on a beach in Baja California, Mexico. (Norbert Wu, Corbis)
Giant Manta Ray hooked on long line near Cocos Island, Costa Rica - Pacific Ocean. (Jeffrey Rotman, Corbis)