Jan 10, 2022
Four women dive deep into the waters of the Maldives to swim with manta rays. Their goal? To photograph them, count them, and help save one of Earth’s biggest fish. Mantas have been endangered by human activity. Overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change have all contributed to the manta's decline.
The women’s organization, the Manta Trust, focuses on researching and protecting the manta rays in the Maldives. Located in the Indian Ocean, it is home to the world’s largest population of the fish.
The trust works with some 20 other groups. Together, they have tracked over 5,100 manta rays. The women photograph the rays. Then they identify them through patterns of spots instead of tagging them. Taking photos causes much less stress in the fish than tagging. They also perform ultrasounds on pregnant mantas. This helps to monitor the health of their pups. And they organize “adopt-a-manta” and other fundraising campaigns.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the mantas as endangered. It urges swift action to protect them.
Manta Trust says its goals go beyond protecting mantas. The trust seeks a future where sea creatures can thrive in healthy, diverse marine ecosystems. Beth Faulkner leads the trust. She tells CNN: "Everything has its place. So it's not just about protecting the mantas alone. It's about protecting the entire ecosystem."
Photo from the Manta Trust.
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