Proposed Rules to Regulate Manta Ray Tourism in Kona

by | Feb 19, 2023 | How to Protect Manta Rays, Uncategorized

It took nine years.

It took a tragedy.

Regulations are way overdue.

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 folk that 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
History and Review of Proposed Rules Package
Your Call To Action with Sample Text
The Dark Side of the famous manta ray activity
Related reading

 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:

History and Review of Proposed Rules 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


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:

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 the famous Manta Ray Activity

The local non-profit organization Hawaii Ocean Watch has been dedicated to educating the public about the threats the manta rays and humans face when going on the manta ray activity.

For more information, check out their website; we share only excerpts of their efforts here.

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.

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!

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.

Related reading


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