Born into a life of perpetual motion, manta rays must keep swimming to survive. Driven forward by powerful beats of their wing-like pectoral fins, they search the ocean currents for concentrated patches of the tiny planktonic organisms on which they feed. They are giants of their kind, ranging throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical oceans, where their horn-like cephalic (head) fins gave rise to ancient mariners’ tales of fearsome ‘devil fish’ that dragged boats into the ocean depths.
Today we know that these gentle giants are harmless to humans, but much else about their lives remains a mystery. Fundamental questions, such as how long they live and their reproductive cycles and fecundity, have yet to be answered satisfactorily. Areas of key habitat use, migration corridors and population estimates, both nationally and internationally, must also be clearly defined if we are to make the informed and educated decisions needed to protect effectively these animals and the world they inhabit. For the past decade, marine biologist and leading manta expert Guy Stevens has devoted his life to answering the important questions about manta rays. Now he has joined forces with award-winning National Geographic photographer Thomas P. Peschak to produce this book. It combines groundbreaking photography, personal experiences and the latest scientific research to create the definitive publication about these charismatic animals.
Manta rays are the embodiment of nature’s majesty, the vehicle that draws people through the looking glass, opening eyes and minds. They captivate people and connect them to our oceans, symbolising what is at stake if we choose not to respect and protect our natural heritage. As co-founders of conservation charity the Manta Trust, the authors hope that these iconic images and enlightening words not only convey the true grace and inquisitive nature of these threatened rays, but also demonstrate what we stand to lose if we choose not to protect them and our oceans.