World Manta Day: |19 September 2023
Celebrating the graceful giants of the ocean
Every year on September 17 marine enthusiasts and conservationists around the world come together to celebrate World Manta Day.
This special day is dedicated to raising awareness about these magnificent creatures – the manta rays – and advocating for their conservation.
Manta rays, often referred to as the ‘gentle giants’ of the ocean, are captivating creatures known for their enormous size, graceful movements, and distinctive appearance. They can grow up to 23 feet (7 metres) in wingspan, making them one of the largest fish in the sea. These captivating animals are found in warm waters around the globe, from the tropical coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
World Manta Day serves as a reminder of the critical role mantas play in maintaining the health of our oceans. These filter-feeding animals help regulate plankton populations, which, in turn, support the entire marine food web. However, mantas are facing significant threats, primarily due to human activities.
One of the main threats to manta rays is overfishing. Mantas are often targeted for their gill plates, which are highly valued in some traditional medicine practices. This demand has led to a decline in manta populations in many regions. Additionally, habitat degradation and accidental entanglement in fishing gear pose further risks to these creatures.
Conservation organisations, researchers, and marine enthusiasts are working tirelessly to protect mantas and their habitats. They conduct research to better understand manta ray behaviour and migration patterns, advocate for legal protection measures, and promote responsible tourism practices that minimise disturbances to these gentle giants.
On World Manta Day, various events and initiatives take place worldwide. These include educational workshops, beach cleanups, fundraising efforts for manta conservation, and citizen science projects. These activities aim to engage people of all ages in learning about and contributing to the protection of manta rays.
One of the key objectives of World Manta Day is to inspire individuals to become stewards of the ocean. By raising awareness about mantas and the broader issues facing marine ecosystems, this day encourages people to take action, reduce their environmental footprint, and support conservation efforts.
Seychelles NATION had the chance to communicate with the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) regarding World Manta Day. “Our team on Aldabra regularly sees reef manta rays feeding along Aldabra’s outer reefs, specifically during the Southeast Monsoon. Encounters with manta rays are incredibly exciting, and as much as possible, our team tries to take ID pictures of the manta’s underside,” they stated.
The team that takes pictures then proceed to send them to the Manta Trust, which uses the unique spot pattern of each manta ray to identify individuals. This feeds into the knowledge base of manta ray populations in Seychelles and supports the Manta Trust in their global manta ray conservation work.
Compiled by Sunny Esparon