Manta Rays' Dwindling for Non-Traditional Chinese Medicine
AwN | It can be hard to look at all of the species around us who are on the brink of tragedy. Heck its hard to even look at all the humans being ploughed under by the machine of world economy. But if we are to be moral people, if we wish to leave this planet better than it would have been without us, then we must work hard despite all the failures.
Currently manta rays are having their numbers dwindle due to a 'controversial' usage in Chinese Medicine. Manta Rays are an easy target and therefore need quick action to prevent disaster. Start with the petition, at Care2 and if you can, consider donating to an organization of which several are listed below...
Save Manta Rays from Extinction
Care2 | Manta rays — some of the smartest, most elegant creatures of the sea -- are hurtling to extinction and they need our help!
Disappearing coral reefs, long reproduction cycles and an alarming increase in the demand for the gills of these unique creatures are pushing Giant Manta Rays, Reef Manta Rays and Caribbean Manta Rays to extinction. That's why conservationists are sounding the alarm andurging the US government to protect these three species of manta rays under the Endangered Species Act.
These manta rays are some of the largest in the world. They have huge brains that have earned them the reputation as the underwater genius. Yet, despite their size, manta rays are truly gentle giants — and they need our help.
Join the fight to save manta rays from extinction. Sign this urgent petition and tell the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect manta rays under the Endangered Species Act.
It has been brought to my attention that even though I am a very fascinating animal, many humans do not understand why us manta rays need their help to gain protection worldwide. Here are the reasons why:
1. Manta rays are now being targeted by fishermen and killed for their gill rakers, as opposed to being killed by “accidental” by-catch.
2. Gill rakers (the feathery part of my gills that helps me sieve out microscopic food from the seawater around me) are used in a controversial new formula of Traditional Chinese Medicine. That formula is not listed in the classic textbooks.
Manta Ray of Hope | The Problem
MRoH | Manta and mobula rays span the tropics of the world and are among the most captivating and charismatic of marine species. However, their survival is severely threatened by growing fisheries pressure driven by demand for the gill rakers that the animals use to filter feed. This project is the first global assessment of what is currently known about manta and mobula biology, the threats they face, the fisheries and trade that target them, non-consumptive and sustainable uses for communities to profit from them, current conservation measures and urgent steps recommended to prevent regional extinctions.
Global manta and mobula ray populations are currently unknown. Even the leading scientists interviewed for this project were not prepared to offer estimates on global populations for any species. Likewise, many questions remain unanswered regarding their biology and behavior. What is known, however, is that these species are slow to mature (8-10 years+), are long-lived (40 years+), and reproduce very slowly. A manta ray will give birth to as few as a single pup every two to five years. By comparison, the Great White Shark, a highly vulnerable species protected under Appendix II of CITES, may produce more young in one litter than a manta ray will in her entire lifetime. Further underscoring the vulnerability of manta rays, scientists believe that specific regional populations may be genetically different from other populations.
These characteristics make manta and mobula rays extremely vulnerable to overfishing, regional depletion and local extirpation. While they are also taken as bycatch in certain fisheries, these rays are subject to significant directed fishing pressure throughout their range. Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India have the largest documented fisheries, with targeted fisheries also reported in Peru, Mexico, Thailand, China, Mozambique, Ghana, and other locations. Total annual documented global landings are ~ 3,400 mantas (M. birostris only) and ~94,000 mobulas (all species). Unreported and subsistence fisheries will mean true landings are likely much higher.
Manta Rays at Risk
PA | Mantas have been classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are at particular risk to overfishing because they produce very few young. Many populations have already been depleted by unregulated fishing. Although legally protected in some nations and specific aggregation areas, these gentle giants migrate to unprotected waters of other countries and the high seas.
What You Can Do
- Snorkel or dive with mantas to support a valuable alternative to fishing.
- Choose locally owned operators who employ local staff.
- Make sure your guides follow procedures and local codes of conduct intended to protect mantas during viewing experiences.
- Be inspired by action taken at a community level.