Threats to the Manta Rays, Participant and Environment

Learn more about the threats to the Manta Rays, the environment and the continuation of the activity.

Threat #1 – TOUCHING the MANTA RAYS

Touching removes a protective slime coating from the manta’s body leaving them vulnerable to infection. They also seem to be frightened by physical contact. The more they are touched, the less likely they will gather to feed. If they no longer feel safe close to lights [and people], they will change their behavior and keep more distance from us or avoid us. Touching also startles them to the point where they swim away very fast, sometimes colliding with people, the bottom, or objects. Nothing good comes from touching!

Learn more from this video why touching mantas is harmful!

Threat #2 – FREE DIVING onto MANTA RAYS

Diving down on the Manta Ray frightens them the same way touching does. They interpret it as an attack and flee the area. Again, it teaches them that humans are to be feared and conditions them to stay away from us. We see more and more participants ignoring this simple rule and if it continues it will change the behavior of the Mantas as they will no longer feel safe around us.

See for yourself how mantas react to free-diving here.

Threat #3 – HULL LIGHTING hurt MANTA RAYS

Hull Lighting refers to lights that are installed below the waterline and onto a boat’s hull or located so close to the boat’s hardware that the Manta Rays collide with sharp, blunt, or immovable objects. Hull lights are a new and troubling change to the way this activity is staged. We have seen and documented serious injuries. Operators who use hull lighting create an unsafe feeding environment for the Mantas and put them at unnecessary risk for injuries.

Another night is too long to use hull lights. Visualize this threat here.

Threat #4 – PROPELLER USE – LIVE BOATING

Some boats do not hook up to moorings or anchor, but instead “dwell” at the site with engines (and propellers) running. Check out the video here for propeller strike evidence to mantas. Eventually a human is going to get injured and this will likely cause the activity to be shut down by State or Federal Authorities.

Threat #5 – ANCHORING on CORAL REEF

We have observed boats anchoring on the coral when moorings are available or a sandy area is close by. We don’t feel there is any justification for killing live coral. It takes decades to grow.

Click here to learn more what is looks like to drop anchor on the reef.

Threat #6 – FRAGMENTATION of VIEWING AREA

Historically, the Manta Ray tour operators have co-existed in harmony with the Manta Rays, the reef environment and each other. Cooperation at both sites of the activity has been the norm for many years. It was apparent if everyone worked together using the “campfire method” that everyone wins. The campfire method refers to all snorkelers and divers congregating in one central viewing area, so everyone will see the maximum number of rays for the maximum amount of time. The opposite scenario is where different groups attract mantas independently. This results in a situation where some participants see the creature, but others don’t. Over the last two years fragmentation of the sites have occurred more and more and can have a huge, negative effect on your experience with the rays!

Click here and see for yourself!

Threat #7 – OVER-SATURATION

Every activity has a capacity. Over-capacity poses a threat to the safety of everyone involved. There are legislative drafts designed to address this issue (Resolution HCR170). We will keep you posted.

Threat #8 – “DRAMA”

The Manta Ray “gold-rush” has brought out all sorts of characters and business practices. It has manifested itself in cursing, bullying, making false accusations, and aggression of all sorts. This gives the activity a bad reputation and it is not something we think people should have to deal with on vacation. Drama is not “green”.