A manta ray in the waters of Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia’s remote Papua province.
Photograph: Shawn Heinrichs/Conservation International/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesia this month became home to the world’s biggest manta ray sanctuary covering millions of square kilometres, as it seeks to protect the huge winged fish and draw more tourists to the sprawling archipelago. According to media reports, the Indonesian government is tightening the regulations for the fishing of sharks and manta rays, which are now included in the list of Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
Of course, this news, although very welcome, has not been brought about by a concern for our fellow creatures but by something mundane: money.
According to a study published last year in the online journal PLoS One, a manta ray is worth up to $1 million over the course of its long lifetime, thanks to tourists willing to pay generously for a chance to swim with the curious creatures that glide gracefully through the water by flapping their wide wings.