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  • Swimming with Manta Rays in Coral Bay

     
    GOPR1590manta14bwmsmall
     
    I recently snorkelled with the Manta rays of Coral Bay, Western Australia. These rays are resident to the area all year round. They are a type of Mobula (Devil) ray of which the specific species is unknown to scientists and they have not been sighted in any other part of the world.
     
    The rays give birth to live young. The females can be followed by up to ten males during breeding but she is fussy with who she chooses to mate with; waiting until only the strongest, most persistent male remains.
     
    The Mantas I swam with were around 4m from wingtip to wingtip. There were two Manta rays, we think they were female as they both had scars on their left wing tips from where the males bite them to flip them over when mating.
     
    The Manta rays were so elegant and graceful as they effortlessly moved through the water sweeping up the plankton in lines, back and forth, turning around as they reached the end of each straight line. As they turned you could see inside their cavernous mouth and watch their Remoras follow them perfectly. It was one of the greatest things I have ever done – swimming with the Mantas, it was truly magical and I loved every minute of it. Thank you DJ, this was the best birthday present ever :) Here is my movie:
     

     
    http://youtu.be/J-T31UH2yrE
     
    To help in the conservation of Manta rays you should snorkel with an eco accredited company and adhere to a code of conduct to protect the Mantas. I snorkelled with Ningaloo Reef Dive, Coral Bay, Western Australia and would highly recommend them to others.
     
    Sadly, Manta rays are heavily targeted by fisheries in certain parts of the world where their gill raker’s are sold for use in Chinese medicine. This is leading to a rapid decline in population numbers, as the rays reproduce at a slow rate. Follow this link for more information:

    http://www.projectaware.org/project/manta-rays-risk

     
    The bottom line is always money. The fishermen sell the gill rakers to earn a living. To help protect the Manta Rays it would help if we could get the message across to the countries where this heavy fishing is taking place, that Manta rays are way more valuable alive and that sustainable eco-tourism would bring more money than selling gill rakers.
     
    We need to conserve these beautiful creatures for our future.
     
    Thank you to Chris Zabriskie for the use of the sound track “Cylinders” in my movie.
     

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