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Marine Life & Conservation

Giant Manta listed as Endangered



The conservation status of the giant (or oceanic) manta ray (Mobula birostris) has been uplisted today to Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. An endangered listing is reserved for species with grave conservation concerns. Today’s announcement serves to confirm what we have long suspected – this gentle marine giant is finding it hard to cope with intensifying anthropogenic pressures around the globe. The giant manta ray now joins over 16,000 endangered species to be assessed with this serious threat level. At this stage, 30% of sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction.

The announcement marks the end of a devastating two decades for this species. Targeted for their gill plates – which they use to filter feed on small zooplankton from the water column – the unrelenting and increasing demand for their body parts has fueled both existing and emerging target fisheries. The relatively new Asian-based trade seems to be impacting the giant manta more than other species of manta ray, with the unsustainable harvesting decimating their populations across the globe.

Giant mantas in a marketplace in Indonesia; Photo by Dr. Andrea Marshall

Dr. Andrea Marshall, co-founder of the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), who lead-authored this newest assessment for the IUCN, has been involved in their assessments since 2003. “The giant manta ray is a classic example of a species that is quickly succumbing to human-induced pressures. When we first assessed manta rays in 2003 there simply was not enough information on the species to determine their conservation status and they were listed as ‘Data Deficient’, but on each of the subsequent assessments, their conservation status increased steadily from Near-Threatened, to Vulnerable and now to Endangered. Their current status is a direct result of unsustainable pressure from fishing, which now threatens to destabilize their populations across the globe.”

To curb the burgeoning trade in their body parts to Asia and to encourage more comprehensive conservation strategies for their populations around the world, the giant manta ray was listed on two of the most important global conservation treaties, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in 2011 and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2013.

Sadly, their numbers have continued to decline. “Manta rays simply cannot withstand such pressures on their populations,” Dr. Marshall explains. “They have an extremely conservative reproductive strategy. They reach sexual maturity relatively late in life, they give birth to a single offspring every few years in the wild, they do not look after or defend their young and the offspring themselves are vulnerable when they are small and may not survive. In other words, as a species, they simply cannot reproduce fast enough to build back their numbers once they are depleted.”

This iconic species is not only extremely important from an ecological perspective, giant mantas also provide vast economic benefits to tourism industries around the world. “Interactions with manta rays are highly sought after by dive and snorkel tourists globally and contribute millions of dollars to tourism economies each year, particularly in developing nations. At this pivotal time, recognizing their economic value may help to encourage the protection of this enigmatic and now endangered species” explained Dr. Stephanie Venables, a Senior Scientist and manta ray expert at MMF.

The giant manta ray was only formally described (the process of gathering enough scientific evidence to provide a taxonomic description of a newly discovered species) by Dr. Marshall and colleagues in 2009. At the time it was one of the largest species to be described in our oceans and the announcement was met with excitement around the globe. The discovery was covered by the BBC that year in the first-ever documentary on manta rays.

“It is such an honor to have been able to study and describe this species. The realization that the giant manta ray is now in danger of extinction is a hard pill to swallow”, Dr. Marshall admits. “We are still busy learning about this extraordinary creature and we have only scratched the surface. There is so much more we need to understand, but at this stage, we have put that all aside in favor of protecting the last remaining populations of giant mantas across the globe.”

For more information on the work of the Marine Megafauna Foundation visit their website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit

Marine Life & Conservation

Double Bubble for Basking Sharks



The Shark Trust is excited to announce that, for two more days only, all donations, large or small, will be doubled in the Big Give Green Match Fund!

Donate to Basking in Nature: Sighting Giants

The Shark Trust is hoping to raise £10k which will be doubled to £20k. This will go towards Basking in Nature: Sighting Giants. And they need YOUR help to reach they’re goal.

The Shark Trust’s citizen science project is to monitor and assess basking sharks through sightings; encouraging data collection, community engagement, and promoting nature accessibility. This initiative aims to enhance health and wellbeing by fostering a deeper connection with British Sharks.

Campaign Aims

  • Increase citizen science reporting of Basking Sharks and other shark sightings to help inform shark and ray conservation.
  • Provide educational talks about the diverse range of sharks and rays in British waters and accessible identification guides!
  • Create engaging and fun information panels on how to ID the amazing sharks and rays we have on our doorstep! These can be used on coastal paths around the Southwest. With activities and information on how you can make a difference for sharks and rays!
  • Promote mental wellbeing through increasing time in nature and discovering the wonders beneath the waves!

Donate, and double your impact. Click Here

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Marine Life & Conservation

Leading UK-based shark conservation charity, the Shark Trust, is delighted to announce tour operator Diverse Travel as a Corporate Patron



Corporate Patrons provide a valuable boost to the work of The Shark Trust. The Trust team works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, and their close cousins, the skates and rays, engaging with a global network of scientists, policymakers, conservation professionals, businesses and supporters to further shark conservation.

Specialist tour operator Diverse Travel has operated since 2014 and is committed to offering its guests high quality, sustainable scuba diving holidays worldwide. Working together with the Shark Trust will enable both organisations to widen engagement and encourage divers and snorkellers to actively get involved in shark conservation.

Sharks are truly at the heart of every diver and at Diverse Travel, we absolutely share that passion. There is nothing like seeing a shark in the wild – it’s a moment that stays with you forever!” says Holly Bredin, Sales & Marketing Manager, Diverse Travel.

We’re delighted to celebrate our 10th year of business by becoming a Corporate Patron of the Shark Trust. This is an exciting partnership for Diverse and our guests. We will be donating on behalf of every person who books a holiday with us to contribute towards their vital shark conservation initiatives around the world. We will also be working together with the Trust to inspire divers, snorkellers and other travellers to take an active role – at home and abroad – in citizen science projects and other activities.”

Paul Cox, CEO of The Shark Trust, said:

It’s an exciting partnership and we’re thrilled to be working with Diverse Travel to enable more divers and travellers to get involved with sharks and shark conservation. Sharks face considerable conservation challenges but, through collaboration and collective action, we can secure a brighter future for sharks and their ocean home. This new partnership takes us one more valuable step towards that goal.”

For more information about the Shark Trust visit their website here.

For more about Diverse Travel click here.

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