PRESS RELEASE JUNE 16, 2003
Manta Pacific Research Foundation
Dedicated to Research, Education and Conservation of Manta Rays
Foundation Receives Grant
Manta Pacific Research Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Kona, Hawaii, received a $10,000 start up grant from The San DiegoFoundation's John and Jessie Simmonds Fund (http://www.sdfoundation.org/) at the recommendation of Joseph S. Adamo. The John and Jessie Simmonds Fund's mission is to benefit animal welfare. Manta Pacific Research Foundation's mission is to study manta rays in their natural habitat and conduct scientific research, provide education programs for the public about manta rays and the marine environment, and establish and promote manta ray conservation.
Manta Pacific Research Foundation will use these funds for research, education and conservation projects. This includes maintaining and building their manta database by cataloging newly identified manta rays and continuing to record daily manta sightings. With data beginning in 1991, this long-term population study has given scientists a valuable data set to analyze a manta population in the wild. The Foundation will also expand their education program by improving tools and materials for local school children presentations and adult community lectures. The Foundation plans to update The Manta Rays of Kona, Hawaii, the informational booklet authored by Keller and Wendy Laros about manta rays including a detailed identification catalog.
Additionally, the funds will be used to expand theFoundation's educational website at http://www.mantapacific.org/ that includes manta information, an identification catalog, and conservation guidelines. Manta Pacific Research Foundation will further primary research by continuing to work closely with Tim Clark of the University of Hawaii and help support his long-term tracking project and habitat study of the Hawaii manta population.
Manta Pacific Research Foundation will also use the funding it receives to raise awareness of the plight of manta rays. In Lamakera, Indonesia,Visayas, Philippines, Bohol, Philippines and other temperate areas of the world, mass fisheries seriously threaten manta populations. Manta rays haveone of the lowest birthrates of any elasmobranch, as they are slow to attain sexual maturity and females have only one pup every 2 to 3 years. Strong fishing pressures in other elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) with low reproductive rates have repeatedly resulted in collapse of their populations. There is no scientific basis for why manta ray survival would be any better.
Manta Pacific Research Foundation is presently focusing its conservation efforts in Kona by taking a leading roll in manta ray protection by providing data to local authorities to establish a no extraction (no kill) policy for Hawaii's manta population. The Foundation hopes that this policy can be used as a template for other areas in the world.
For more information, go to http://www.mantapacific.org/. Manta Pacific Research Foundation Contact Information: Write to Manta Pacific Research Foundation, P.O. Box 3227 Kailua-Kona, HI 96745-3227, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone (808) 325-1630 Manta Pacific Research Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.