Over the last 25+ years, we’ve been very fortunate to run a small business in Hawaii within an eco-tourism based industry. For the longest time, we provided underwater video and photo services to the manta tour activity providers who take out the divers and snorkelers to experience the gentle giants.
In recent years we also started to offer our own Manta Ray Moonlight Swim.
This eco-tourism activity is set up for a win-win-win situation:
- WIN 1: The mantas feed on an abundance of plankton without being bothered and distorting the natural balance of food. The plankton would get eaten anyways; it is just concentrated around lights.
- WIN 2: Participants experience something other-worldly when the gentle giants congregate around the lit-up areas. Being in the mantas natural habitat and seeing their grace and beauty touches your heart and most often you leave invigorated and motivated to do better for the ocean and the environment.
- WIN 3: An industry in a small town on a remote island generates revenue that secures jobs for many.
This is definitely all good news based on the assumption that the activity is conducted sustainably, but that is a topic we’ll dive into another time.
FISHERY VS ECO-TOURISM
Take look at these mind-boggling numbers comparing the value of a living and a dead manta ray:
- LIVING: Based on a survey of boat operators in Kona, Hawaii, it is estimated that one manta ray generates approximately $1 million/year in local revenue (e.g. lodging, food, rentals, flights).
- DEAD: A dead manta ray is worth around $200 and gone forever.
WOW, that math is definitely a “no brainer” as it becomes crystal clear that eco-tourism generates multiple times more revenue than fisheries.
Discover more fascinating information about manta rays in our Manta Ray Advocacy Guide.
Racing Extinction Movie
The good news to share is that great efforts are being made by organizations and individuals to bring awareness and education to fisheries that target manta rays.
You can find an inspiring example in the movie Racing Extinction. It aired on Discovery Channel in December of 2015 and is a groundbreaking documentary by Louie Psihoyos as it draws attention to mankind’s role in the potential loss of at least 50% of the world species in the very near future.
One part of the show is about manta rays, their loss of habitat, and what solutions are available when you turn an Indonesian fishing village into a sustainable future for the mantas through eco-tourism.
This is the exact win-win-win situation described earlier.
Fishermen just need to learn how to earn a living by keeping the fish alive!
Racing Extinction is available on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play and DVD/Blu Ray.
The film is highly recommended.
Cheering you on to be the voice for the ones that don’t have one!