Population Structure and Conservation of Oceanic Manta Rays in the Indo-Pacific
Oceanic manta rays, a poorly understood, charismatic marine megafauna, are under increasingly intense fishing pressures around the world. One of several species of Mobulid rays whose gill rakers have recently been adopted as a remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine, manta rays are targeted in developing countries such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia for the feathery appendages that allow them to strain zooplankton from seawater. Thousands of mantas are being caught and killed each year, and due to extremely low reproductive rates, populations are unlikely to sustain high levels of exploitation. On the other hand, it has been shown that ecotourism directed towards manta rays has a far greater economic return for coastal communities than the gill raker trade.