Thursday, March 14, 2013

Making a brighter future for manta rays!

Aquarium-supported project helps bring about a brighter future for manta rays

Thursday marked an important victory for manta rays when delegates from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to strengthen protections for these gentle giants. Manta rays are increasingly threatened by overfishing and bycatch, but thanks to the CITES vote, the trade of mantas will now be more tightly regulated to prevent overexploitation of these animals.

This photo was taking during a joint aquarium expedition to Fiji. See more spectacular images like this

Research that contributed to this CITES victory included a study by scientist Daniel Fernando, of the Manta Trust, that was funded in part by a grant from the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF).  MCAF, which is supported by foundations and individual donors, has funded over 100 high-impact conservation projects in over 37 countries since 1999. The Aquarium is excited to have supported the Manta Trust in their efforts to help secure this key victory, and with it hopefully a brighter future for the mantas.

Another dive in Fiji was nicknamed Mantapalooza. Here's why.

These rays have been harvested for their gill rakers, which are highly valued in Chinese medicine trade. Their protection is incredibly important because they have among the slowest reproductive rates of any marine animals. The Manta Trust explains more about the measure here. Learn more about the Aquarium's support of the Manta Trust in this Aquarium blog post.

In addition to mantas, several species of sharks will now enjoy protection under CITES. The oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrma lewini), great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zigaena) and the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) will have to be traded with CITES permits and evidence will have to be provided that they are harvested sustainably and legally. According to CITES, these listings mark a milestone in the involvement of CITES in marine species. Learn more about the new animals and protections added to the CITES list this year.

See more pictures of manta rays and all kinds of sharks in these posts:

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