Sometimes referred to as Ocean Angels, Hawaii’s Manta Rays are a precious natural resource, worthy of conservation and preservation. In the State of Hawaii, it is unlawful to hunt or kill Manta Rays, but there is no protection from harm (collisions, harassment, entanglement).
The local economy in Kona benefits from their well-being; hence, voluntary guidelines are in place to insure Manta Rays are not adversely affected by human interaction.
Each year, thousands of tourists visiting the Big Island seek a Manta Ray Experience and hopefully passively interact with the Manta Rays without altering their natural behavior or harming them in any way.
Although recently listed in CITES, generally speaking, Manta Rays are low on the list of conservation efforts by governments. There are simply too many other creatures that are currently getting attention and it is difficult to monitor Manta Ray health and numbers to justify conservation efforts; even so, efforts have been made by advocacy groups to protect the Manta Rays.
Worldwide, conservation efforts have been put into place to help reduce the number of Manta Rays being killed for any reason and this is a step in the right direction.
Some governments do have the Manta Ray on their list of threatened species (not the United States). This is due to the low rate of reproduction, combined with a high mortality rate. The young offspring are vulnerable for the first couple of years. Many of them do not reach maturity. Manta Rays are also exposed to harm through chemicals, toxins and waste in the water, as well as being unintentionally harvested due to by-catch fishing practices.
If you are planning to book your manta tour, then select an operator with highest ecological standards. Learn more about HOW’s Green List of Activity Providers here.