It took nine years.
It took a tragedy.
Regulations are way overdue.
Finally, a public hearing to regulate the manta ray tour businesses along the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii is happening on February 23, 2023. In the video below, I tell you what I think about the proposed regulations (in short, I’m all for it and we desperately need your support!). Scroll down below the video to find out what YOU can do to protect manta rays today.
Video: History and Review of Proposed Regulations Package
00:00 – 00:26 Introduction
00:27 – 05:33 History of the Kona Manta Ray Tour Industry (1991-2023)
05:34 – 05:57 The tragedy of losing Theresa Butts
05:58 – 07:13 The craziness at the viewing sites
07:14 – 07:57 Make Your Voice Heard: Submit testimony
07:58 – 12:55 Key Elements of the Proposed Rules
12:56 – 14:02 Suggested Modification to the Proposed Rules
14:03 – 15:10 Final Thoughts and Call to Action
If you don’t have time to watch the video right now, know that I believe these proposed regulations are very much overdue, and we need all the support we can get to fight the apathy and raise awareness about the lack of rules to regulate manta ray tourism.
Public Hearing on February 23rd, 2023
Finally, the public hearing to regulate the manta ray tour businesses along the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii is happening on February 23, 2023.
This blog post is for all the folks who are looking for resources and a deeper understanding of the complexity of this world-famous night ocean activity that many call an “Experience of a Lifetime”.
The regulatory process has begun, so we will update the post when they become available.
Official Notice of Public Hearing
Date of Public Hearing: Thursday, February 23, 2023, from 10.30 AM to 12.30 AM
Location: West Hawaii Civic Center Community Meeting Hale
Official DLNR Notice of Public Hearing: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/notice-of-public-hearing-for-proposed-manta-ray-rules/
Call to Action: Email Your Testimony
Let’s be the voice for the voiceless gentle giants. We appreciate your effort, and your call to action is simple:
Email your testimony of why you believe the manta tour businesses need to be regulated to this email address: email@example.com
I prepared a sample text for you to make it as straightforward as possible:
I support implementing the proposed rules to bring safety and order to a highly sought-after ocean activity. I did the manta activity myself, and while I was mesmerized by the beautiful manta rays, I was simultaneously heartbroken by the sheer number of boats and participants. This is not sustainable for many reasons and has not been for a long time. Please consider regulating the industry rather than locations to avoid repeating the environmental damage and endangerment of marine and human life. Thank you.
The Dark Side of popular Manta Ray Tourism
These proposed regulations for manta ray tourism in Hawaii are much needed to protect both manta rays and humans involved.
Subsurface lights (aka hull lighting) hurts manta rays
Hull Lighting refers to lights that are installed below the waterline and onto a boat’s hull or located so close to the boat’s hardware that the Manta Rays collide with sharp, blunt, or immovable objects. Hull lights are a troubling change to the way this activity is staged. We have seen and documented serious injuries. Operators who use hull lighting create an unsafe feeding environment for the mantas and put them at unnecessary risk for injuries.
Another night is too long to use hull lights.
Propellers on the boats can be fatal
Some boats do not hook up to moorings or anchor, but instead “dwell” at the site with engines (and propellers) running. Check out the video here for propeller strike evidence to mantas. Tragically, we also have to mourn a human fatality. Enough! Regulations will stop the live-boating!
Oversaturation of manta ray tours
Every activity has a capacity. Over-capacity poses a threat to the safety of everyone involved. The proposed rules will address this issue and limit the number of bot operators. Let’s bring safety, sanity and organization back to the manta ray experience.
Find out more about the different threats that manta rays face in the article below to better understand what the proposed regulations could change for both mantas and humans!
Related reading (How YOU can Help!)
- The local non-profit organization Hawaii Ocean Watch has been dedicated to educating the public about the threats manta rays and humans face when joining a manta ray tour. Read more about the Legislative Resolution Urging DLNR to Regulate from 2014 on their website!
- Are Manta Rays Facing Extinction? written in 2020
- Are Manta Ray Expeditions Harmful to Manta Rays? written in 2019
- 5 things you can do right now to save the oceans