Manta Ray Predators and Conservation
Manta Ray Conservation Status
There are a variety of threats that occur for the survival of the manta ray. They have to swim all of the time, and a common problem is getting tangled up in fishing nets. This is a bigger problem in some locations than others. Still, it has prompted conservation efforts to be put into motion so that key areas where they live can be free of such fishing nets. In some locations, changes to the types of nets that can be used has been a solution.
The cephalic fins are very important to them as they can only swim forwards. When those fins are caught in fishing lines or they are caught with fishing hooks, it can cause them to become damaged to the point where they can no longer swim. They may struggle enough that they lose part of their fins in their efforts to get away.
In some locations, the manta ray is intentionally hunted as the meat of it is sold. The meat is said to have a very good taste and texture to it. The hide is sold for various uses and the liver is very rich in oil. In some locations, a great deal of money can be made for capturing and selling the manta ray for all of these uses. Japan is the biggest area where such processes continue to take place.
It is also essential for the manta ray to visit cleaning stations so that parasites and dead skin can be removed from their bodies. They rely on various types of small fish to make this occur for them. Pollution, fishing nets, and other problems have killed many of those fish in various areas. As a result, the manta rays have a harder time getting those cleansing needs taken care of than ever before.
It has been very difficult to get a good count of how many of them there are in the wild. Since they blend in so well to their surroundings, they can be easily bypassed for such counts. Since they tend to live isolated, they move alone, and they migrate all the time it is hard to get each of them counted. It is also hard to prevent counting the same one more than once virtually impossible. That is part of why it took so long to realize their demise was taking place.
One of the big concerns for the future of the manta ray is their decline in population. They have a very high mortality rate at birth so only a fraction of the offspring live to be mature adults that will also mate. The mothers don’t have any role in caring for the young, yet they will only mate every other year. Since the manta ray doesn’t do well at all in captivity, that isn’t an option in order to have breeding programs and increase populations.
As of 2011, the manta ray became protected under the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals. This is an International organization that is concerned with any migrational creature and protecting its natural habitat. However, it is important to point out that this organization can only protect them in certain regulated waters. Once the manta rays go into the unregulated waters the risk of harm increases for them. Since they are highly migrational, that happens often.
To further aid in that protection, the International Union for Conservation of Nature elevated the risk for the manta ray to vulnerable in late 2011. Conservation efforts including limiting fishing, educating the public about the manta ray and what it offers to other aquatic life, and also implementing punishments for those that intentionally harm them.