How to Choose a Responsible Manta Tourism Operator for Scuba Diving
Snorkelling or scuba diving with a manta ray is an incredible experience, but it's important to do so with a responsible manta tourism operator. Responsible manta tourism can also be part of the solution to preventing manta rays from being overfished, creating strong incentives for fishers and governments to protect the gentle marine giants.
Manta Rays are very sensitive to disturbances and, occasionally, uncontrolled human interactions have a negative impact on manta ray populations, driving them away from important areas where they gather to clean, feed or breed. There have been cases of tour operators driving boats through aggregations of manta rays feeding at the surface, resulting in serious boat propellor injuries; and divers clustering over cleaning stations which prevent the manta rays from accessing them.
To help combat these problems, the Manta Trust is working with a growing number of Responsible Manta Tourism Operators around the world and is calling on divers to seek out those that follow an appropriate code of conduct for scuba diving and swimming with manta rays.
The Manta Trust has released a set of 'Swim with Mantas; guidelines for tour operators who are committed to sustainable manta conservation to follow. The Swim with Mantas guidelines inform divers and snorkellers how to behave around manta rays, both to ensure the safety of the animals and also ensure the best possible experience for their manta encounters.
As the tourism industry opens up again in 2021, the Manta Trust is urging divers to choose a Responsible Manta Tourism Operator and ensure their trip doesn’t impact negatively on local manta populations.
The Swim with Mantas guidelines have been validated by scientific studies, following several years of marine research conducted in the Maldives and provide the Best Practice Code of Conduct for Manta Ray Tourism. In addition, they include recommendations for tourism operators on how best to approach and depart manta aggregation sites, and how to help their crews manage a manta excursion with guests.
The Manta Trust's Swim with Mantas Guidelines are available for free at - www.swimwithmantas.org
The Manta Trust encourages divers and snorkellers who encounter manta rays to take part in the Trust's 'ID the Manta' citizen science project and 'Adopt-A-Manta' initiative. to find out more about taking and submitting photographs or videos showing the spot patterns located on a manta ray's underside, visit www.mantatrust.org/idthemanta. To learn more about adopting a manta ray through donations to support the Manta Trust's conservation work, visit www.mantatrust.org/adopt-a-manta.