Meet the giant manta rays of the Mexican Caribbean Sea

Meet the giant manta rays of the Mexican Caribbean Sea
  • Assorted Blu-Rays (Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, Paranorman, Coraline etc)
    Pre-owned
  • Martin Clunes - Man To Manta - In Search Of The Giant Ray (DVD, 2011)
    Pre-owned
  • Pirates of the Caribbean complete Blu-Rays, with collectible o-ring slipcovers!
    Pre-owned
  • NATURAL WORLD COLLECTION - QUEEN OF THE MANTA RAYS / THE WILD [UK] NEW BLURAY
    Brand new
  • Natural World - Queen Of The Manta Rays [Region 2] - Dutch I (US IMPORT) DVD NEW
    Brand new
  • Primates Of The Caribbean Monkey Sea Monkey Do DVD
    Pre-owned
  • PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN TRILOGY. + ON STRANGER TIDES....BLU-RAYS
    New (other)
  • £2.49 Dvds & Blue Rays - BRAND NEW - Action, Fitness, Series, Christmas, ComedyCharity item
    Brand new
  • Jewels Of The Caribbean Sea (US IMPORT) DVD NEW
    Brand new
  • MADAGASCAR 1998 MNH YEAR OF THE OCEAN STAMPS SHEET DOLPHIN WHALE MANTA RAY SEA
  • Disney LImited Ed Pirates of the Caribbean JACK SPARROW Statue GENTLE GIANT
    Pre-owned
  • Giant Sugar Skull Necklace 30"chain day of the dead pendant Flower rose Mexican
    Brand new
  • Disney Limited Ed Pirates of the Caribbean Davy Jones Statue GENTLE GIANT
    Pre-owned
  • 1959 ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES 16x12" Mexican Lobby Card VG+ 4.5 Ken Clark
  • Guide to Manta and Devil Rays of the World New Paperback Book
    Brand new
  • PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3-inch Giant BADGE Capt. Jack NEW OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE
    Brand new
  • Rare Pirates of the Caribbean “DAVY JONES” Animated Maquette By Gentle Giant.
    Brand new
  • Pirates Of The Caribbean - Swashbuckling Sea Songs, Music
    Pre-owned

“VIOLATION!”

We all howl in unison as a giant manta ray comes out of the sea and splashes on our backs. A double breach elicits more excitement as a second aerial jump lands him on his stomach.

It is not clear why they infringe, there is still a lot to learn, but observation is what we are looking for in our research. Being in their presence fills our wonder. Underwater, the giant and elegant creatures glide with seemingly little effort, their curiosity places you at the height of your curiosity about them. Swimming with a manta ray is an experience that almost everyone will define as unforgettable.

I spent a month with the Manta Caribbean Project (MCP) in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where they are researching the giant manta ray (Mobula birostris) currently listed as Vulnerable speak IUCN. It has been suggested by scientists that mantas in the Mexican Caribbean could be a third species, the Caribbean manta ray (Mobula cf. birostris), although this remains to be scientifically proven.

Karen Fuentes launched MCP in 2013 to define local species of manta rays and their habitat in the Caribbean Sea. Collecting scientific information enables them to understand the population in order to develop awareness programs, provide education to local communities and government, and develop legislation for sustainable conservation. Karen is passionate and she is a leader, and the mantas, her “babies” that she calls them, are lucky to have her.

Photo courtesy of the Manta Caribbean Project

During the month, we made eight field trips to the Marine Protected Areas along the Yucatan Peninsula. The currents here provide nutrient-rich waters supporting a great biodiversity of marine life. Huge plankton blooms attract many species, including these rays, which we sought to find. Leaving very early, which was ideal as the heat and humidity caused sweating at 9am, and as the search permit had a strict 2pm curfew, we stacked our field and diving gear with PB&J sandwiches in taxis to make our way to the sea. It’s quite fun securing the 1.5 meter aluminum “Manta trawl” in the trunk. Once at the meeting point, we would head to the boat whose crew is dedicated to our cause. This area is well known for aggregations of whale sharks, and the local community is clearly informed and dedicated to conservation efforts.

The initial goal of manta research is, of course, to find them, but then to take identification photos to record the life story of each individual, to track it over time. Trying to keep up with a manta’s beat might be its own sport as we dive with the aim of capturing a ventral profile. The unique pattern of markings on their belly and gills are specific individual identifiers, like our fingerprints. MCP has identified 491 people in its rapidly growing database. Having identifiers of sightings and re-sightings provides valuable information to the population by revealing who is going, who is going, changes in growth, sex, new appearances, etc., all providing vital information about the species and how it interacts with its environment. A few field trips did not result in any sightings, which is also important for research.

One of the challenges is that the study area is huge as they are currently operating in four different AFNs (Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve, Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, Contoy Island National Park, Protected Natural Area of ​​the flora and fauna Yum Balam) and it can be difficult. , almost pure luck, to locate pelagic species on this expanse of sea. MCP has started aerial surveillance with a Swellpro drone, thanks to the Rufford Foundation through a grant application, and more recently they conducted aerial surveys by plane to cover an even larger area in collaboration with The Manta Trust.

A vulnerable species

Giant manta rays are captivating, graceful, and, as the name suggests, large. However, they are extremely vulnerable. Harmless plankton feeders, they have tiny teeth (used primarily by males to cling to the female’s pectoral fin for breeding) and no prickly barbs – a common misconception. No, they are not the cause of Steve Irwin’s untimely death.

Photo courtesy of the Manta Caribbean Project
Photo courtesy of the Manta Caribbean Project

Their reproduction rate is low due to biological factors such as high age of sexual maturity (10-15 years), long gestation period (1 year) and low fertility (1 cub) which dictate population growth slow.

In addition, there are a variety of daunting threats including bycatch (caught in nets intended for other species), targeted fisheries (mainly for their gill plates for Chinese medicine which have no scientific evidence to prove that said drug actually heals) and marine debris (plastics, ghost gear, garbage, etc.).

MCP searched microplastics (particles less than 5 mm in diameter) in the local habitat in collaboration with 5 Gyres since 2017. A “Manta trawl” towed by the boat captures debris floating on the surface of the water by filtering the samples through a fine mesh net; similar to how mantas feed on the surface. 5 Gyres estimate that there are over 5.25 trillion particles on the ocean surface. Since mantas feed on plankton, which is smaller than a grain of rice, they also inadvertently ingest these microplastics.

In addition to possible physical injury and starvation from plastic debris, there are growing concerns about exposure to toxins when they are ingested. Plastic in the ocean can absorb pollutants. The longer it is exposed in the marine environment, the more pollutants it can accumulate, thus increasing its levels of toxicity. Mantas filter thousands of cubic meters of water daily, making them vulnerable to ingestion of plastic debris and associated pollutants. The properties of seawater are an important aspect to study with regard to the environmental concentrations of plastics, the intensity of toxins and the effects on health.

3 pillars of this project: science, community, education

The data collected helps provide a comprehensive overview of manta ray biology, ecology, dynamics, and habitat use. It becomes a valuable tool for educating the community, advancing policy and informing parties about the conservation measures and management initiatives needed to successfully protect manta rays.

Karen stresses the importance of involving the local community and giving it a voice. “Getting fishermen, tour operators, locals and children on board can really have a transcendental impact on tourism. You have your community like manta guardians, ecosystems, oceans. “

Photo courtesy of the Manta Caribbean Project
Photo courtesy of the Manta Caribbean Project

Even if communities are encouraged, the implementation of national protection is necessary to enforce regulations and other initiatives. Since the end of 2019, all mobulid ray species have been fully protected in Mexico according to Mexican official standard (NOM) NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, but there is still a lot to do.

“Tourism in Manta is an important way to conserve manta rays. They face many threats around the world, starting with targeted fisheries but also bycatch. We need to create the framework, we need to create the tools and provide the information that will allow us to achieve more responsible tourism in the region. You have to consider a lot of things and use different tools to make it rich and use tourism as it should be used. “

This doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter a manta while snorkeling with whale sharks or diving in the area. So, in the meantime, the Manta Trust has a Best Practices Code of Conduct, resulting from years of research, which describes how to interact in a respectful and sustainable way with the rays.

Conservation covers ecosystems

Many ecosystems are critically linked, work together and directly influence each other, so naturally MCP has partnered with local organizations in neighboring ecosystems.

Linked with Acción Isla, movement that regularly cleans beaches, mangroves and reefs, we spent two Saturdays cleaning 80 kilos and then 155 kilos of debris in the mangroves. Both mornings were successful, but it seems more appropriate to say how unfortunate it is that it had to be done in the first place. Mangroves play a major role as a nursery for many reef organisms, maintain water quality, protect shorelines from natural disasters, store carbon, making them a viable solution to climate degradation, ok, I’m going to take a break. We understand – they are important! When it is littered with plastic bags, bottles, cans (I could continue a page with what we discovered on the surface), it is sad to see that an area that nature aims to protect and filter. is invaded by disintegrating and harmful waste; waste that will end up in the oceans and will inevitably be ingested by animals.

The Tortugranja (turtle farm), dedicated to the preservation of endangered sea turtles (there are 4 of the 7 known species in this area), works to save breeding grounds and turtle eggs. As the hugely gravid turtles laboriously descend to land to lay their eggs, volunteers carefully collect the eggs to keep them on the farm away from predators, including human poachers, until they are ready to hatch and released. in the sea.

How can you act?

I have enjoyed my time with MCP helping and learning about the species, the organization and the work in progress. There are a lot of moving parts with any conservation effort and nonprofit organization, and volunteers and donations can be that extra push to move the project forward. Here are some ways to get involved:

For more information visit MantaCaribbeanProject.org, or MantaTrust.org.

The Manta Caribbean project is a non-profit organization registered in Mexico that operates in the NPAs under research permits issued by CONANP.

Source link

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: