Turning the tide for manta and devil rays

Words by Isabel Ender
Shawn Heinrichs | Blue Sphere Foundation
As a founding associate director of the Manta Trust, I have been truly inspired by the selfless dedication and commitment of the Manta Trust team, who use innovative science and effective advocacy to help drive the global conservation of manta and devil rays. The calibre and diversity of skills and the experience of the team are unrivalled in this space.
As tourism based on encounters with manta rays booms, years of research have enabled the Manta Trust to issue best-practice guidelines to responsible interaction with these charismatic creatures of the sea.<br />
Photo by Guy Stevens | Manta Trust
Photo Tom Burd
Mary O’Malley | WildAid
By coordinating the work of field researchers and scientists around the world with conservation policy advocacy and community outreach, the Manta Trust brings together all the elements needed to achieve win-win solutions that benefit manta and devil rays and local communities.
A researcher swims down to attach a Crittercam to a reef manta in the Raa Atoll, Maldives. The insights delivered by these cameras into how mantas lead their lives help to guide better policy and protection measures for these animals.<br />
Photo by Guy Stevens | Manta Trust
Professor Callum Roberts | University of York
The Manta Trust is one of those rare conservation organisations that places a great premium on scientific excellence. Not only do they base their conservation efforts on solid evidence, they have been responsible for research that has generated major leaps in our understanding of these magnificent and threatened creatures.
Sir Richard Branson | Virgin Group
Guy and Thomas have brought together their knowledge and expertise to create a book that perfectly captures the essence of manta rays. It stirred within me a desire to do more to help conserve our oceans, and I hope that it does the same for you.
Ian Campbell | World Wide Fund For Nature
With the exponential growth in marine ecotourism, coupled with increased threats from overfishing and habitat loss, developing a set of responsible operator guidelines is something that conscientious travellers have been requesting for a number of years. In 2017, Project AWARE partnered with the Manta Trust and WWF to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations that would assist tourism operators not only to minimise any impacts they would have on sharks and rays, but also to actively contribute to conservation and management. With manta rays a significant attraction for tourists, having the Manta Trust’s input was invaluable to ensuring that the guidelines incorporated the latest scientific understanding of these majestic creatures.
Mark Erdmann | Conservation International
The Manta Trust has been an incredibly strategic and valued partner for our marine conservation work in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and New Caledonia. Starting with some early joint expeditions in Raja Ampat that opened our eyes to both the value and the vulnerability of the manta populations there, our partnership rapidly grew from conservation science roots to regional and national policy engagement, culminating in the Raja Ampat Shark and Ray Sanctuary and later Indonesia’s landmark decision to grant full protected species status to both manta species throughout its territorial waters. Other partnership initiatives with the Manta Trust in Milne Bay (PNG) and New Caledonia have enjoyed similar success in building photo ID databases while dramatically increasing public and policy-maker exposure to and appreciation of mantas. Our partnership in Indonesia has now expanded to also focus on mobula rays. I really can’t say enough good things about the organisation – it brings enormous enthusiasm, passion and expertise to its work and has been a natural partner to our marine conservation efforts in the Pacific.

The Manta Trust