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Manta Rays: Curious and Vulnerable Giants of the Sea

"In all my years of filming and interacting with manta rays, I have never witnessed such an extraordinary interaction between a manta ray and a swimmer. The power and charisma of this giant manta was truly humbling!" — Shawn Heinrichs, WildAid

This month, WildAid's Shawn Heinrichs and Josh Stewart of Manta Trust conducted a research and filming expedition to Peru, working closely with our partner Planeta Océano with support from Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Peru and Ecuador waters are home to one of the most significant populations Oceanic mantas in the eastern Pacific. Both Peru and Ecuador are parties to Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) that now lists both manta and mobula rays for protection. Whereas Ecuador has implemented national regulations protecting mantas and mobulas, just south of their border, Peru has yet to adopt similar protections.

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Peng Yu Sai: A Toxic Health Tonic

Last year, WildAid reported that an estimated 150,000 manta and mobula rays were killed in 2013 so their gill rakers could be sold as part of a growing trade, mostly at the markets of Guangzhou, China.

Known as peng yu sai, the gill rakers — cartilage filaments used to filter food from the water column — are not part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but they are used in the preparation of a soup-like "health tonic." Merchants advertise a wide range of unproven health benefits and claim that peng yu sai can treat everything from skin rashes to cancer.

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Sharks and Manta Protection Kicks In

Protection under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) kicks in this week for five more shark species and two manta ray species. Any trade in oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark, and manta ray products is now to be restricted via national regulations to “avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.” The designation was passed at the CITES’ 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand in March of 2013 and the listings go into effect this Sunday, September 14.

WildAid Launches Campaign to Reduce Consumption of Manta Ray Gills in China

Indonesia Announces the World's Largest Manta Sanctuary

The Manta Trust, WildAid, Blue Sphere Media, The Indonesian Manta Project and Save Our Seas are today celebrating the signing of a new regulation creating the world’s largest manta sanctuary, encompassing a massive 6 million square kilometers of ocean, enforcing full protection for Oceanic and Reef Manta Rays (Manta birostris and Manta alfredi) in Indonesia. The Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Pak Agus Dermawan, signed the agreement in Jakarta; the event was attended by the Ministry of Tourism, national and international NGOs as well as global media.