Friend of the Sea honors World Manta Day with standards for sustainable Manta Ray watching

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Sept. 17, 2020 will be World Manta Day, a worldwide celebration of Manta Rays.
Sept. 17, 2020 will be World Manta Day, a worldwide celebration of Manta Rays.

ROME — Sept. 17, 2020 will be World Manta Day, a worldwide celebration of Manta Rays. Friend of the Sea, the preeminent global certification standard for products and services that respect and protect the marine environment, is honoring World Manta Day through its standards for sustainable manta ray watching excursions as well as standards that reduce the impact of stray fishing nets on the rays.

“We would love to get as many people as possible celebrating manta rays and their relatives for one special day each year,” said Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea. “This event will bring together all the different organizations that focus on rays and ocean conservation in general. It’s a great opportunity to work together to promote and preserve a remarkable species.”

Manta rays are distinctive because, despite their immense size, they are harmless and only feed only on microscopic zooplankton. They are closely related to sharks, with skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone. A manta ray can grow to up to seven meters from wingtip to wingtip and weigh up to two tons. They have the largest brains of any fish.

Friend of the Sea’s efforts are directed at protecting manta rays and their habitats so future generations can enjoy this wonder of the underwater world. The organization’s standard enables people to enjoy the experience of observing manta rays and swimming with them while protecting the species from harm that come from human contact.

It sets a maximum number of manta ray watching vessels that can be in a given area at any one time. The standard similarly limits maximum approach speed and distance between the boats and the rays. At the same, it prohibits swimmers from touching manta rays and bars monouse plastics on board the tour boats. — SG


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