Environment Protection Agency (EPA), on Sunday, urged the public to exercise caution while docking boats, noting that the frequency of manta rays and spotted eagle rays dying and sustaining injuries due to entanglements in mooring lines are on the rise.
Requesting relevant persons to pay closer attention while establishing mooring systems, EPA reminded the public that such species of marine megafauna are crucial to the Maldives' environment and economy, and a collective effort of the community is required to ensure their protection of the species.
EPA stressed that all species of rays are protected from June 16, 2014, onwards, under Section 4 of the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, adding that the two species of the manta ray found in Maldives are on the red list of "vulnerable" species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Maldives is one of the few spots in the entire world where Manta Rays gather in schools of large numbers and exhibit feeding frenzies, attracting several visitors, locals and foreigners alike, travelling to catch a glimpse of the graceful marine beasts.
Manta rays are obligate ram ventilators, meaning that they need to swim constantly to “breathe”. Therefore, entanglement in a mooring line rapidly leads to asphyxiation and death. Unfortunately, manta rays cannot swim backwards, and they often cannot see a thin mooring line directly in front of them as they swim forward.
According to Manta Trust, approximately 10 percent of the Maldives reef manta ray population, estimated at around 5,000, suffer from sub-lethal injuries resulting from fishing line entanglements.