Saving the Manta Ray

8232Demand for gill rakers for use in alternative medicine has put the oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris) population at risk. With their extremely low reproductive rates, large scale and even small artisanal fisheries may lead to population decline and perhaps local extinctions. Understanding the basic ecology and population dynamics of the species is a prerequisite to developing effective conservation and management strategies. In the hopes of keep manta rays a vital part of the ocean’s ecosystem, Ph.D. student Josh Stewart of the Semmens Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography studies them in the Indo-Pacific to identify space use, migratory corridors, regional subpopulations and connectivity between oceanic manta hotspots and aggregations.