Swimming alongside manta rays, the gentle giants of the sea is a truly magnificent experience for any ocean lover. However, mantas are extremely sensitive to human disturbance, and if left without proper measures, tourism can potentially do more harm than good. A new educational initiative from The Manta Trust is aiming to change this.
The Manta Trust (supported by SOSF) is a unique environmental non-profit organisation that coordinates global research and conservation efforts for manta rays, their close relatives and their habitats. Through a multidisciplinary approach, Manta Trust leads robust science and research projects, while raising awareness and providing education to the general public and community stakeholders worldwide. To reduce and minimise the negative impacts tourism causes manta populations, the organisation has launched a new, long-term initiative called How To Swim With Manta Rays.
To achieve sustainable manta tourism (the primary goal of this initiative), The Manta Trust created a new website which serves as a visually engaging information hub for tourists to learn about the importance tourism has for manta conservation, how to make sure their future interactions are sustainable, and to provide a central resource to understand which tourism operators throughout the world have committed to responsible manta tourism and the wider conservation of these animals.
The website also acts as a resource hub for tourism operators, providing them with a suite of freely-available media tools to integrate into their business and operations. Currently, available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, these tools include a globally-applicable short film that helps standardise manta dive briefings, a visual 10-step guide that can be taken on-board, and instructions for staff on how to behave and manage tourists during manta excursions.
The conservation group plans to add additional languages and new tools to its media kit (found on How To Swim With Manta’s website), based on feedback received from operators around the world.
To learn more about this exciting new initiative, visit www.swimwithmantas.org or follow along on social media using the hashtag #swimwithmantas.