Giant Rays’ “Feeding Frenzy” Spots Protected in Maldives

September 22nd, 2009

New Marine Scantuaries

A manta ray channels plankton-rich water through its mouth near Hanifaru, one of the Indian Ocean islands that make up the Maldives, in an undated photo.

Hundreds of giant fish converge in Hanifaru Bay from May through November, when the lunar tide sucks krill and plankton to the surface, giving rays an all-you-can-eat buffet.

In June 2009 the Maldives created three new marine protected areas that include Hanifaru and other crucial feeding areas for mantas and whale sharks, the world’s largest fish.

Fishing, boat speeds, and waste disposal will be regulated. The new sanctuaries, however, will allow some diving and snorkeling-a healthy tourist trade may provide alternative livelihoods for fishers, experts say.

Manta Rays. Giant Rays Feeding Frenzy Spots Protected in Maldives

(Manta Ray)

“The government is committed to protecting and preserving the Maldives’ exceptional biodiversity,” Maldives Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam said in a statement.

“The marine environment is the bedrock of our economy, supporting our largest industries, tourism and fisheries.”Roughly 40-foot-long (12.2-meter-long) long, plankton-hungry whale sharks also show up for the Hanifaru Bay feeding frenzy and stand to benefit from the June 2009 designation of three new marine refuges in the Maldives.

At least 120 of the shipping container-size sharks live in the ocean around the Maldives, one of the few places in the world where the gentle giants can be found year-round.

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