Manta rays are beautiful, intelligent, gentle and inquisitive giants of the sea. But in the last decade a hunting trade has emerged in Asia for ray gill plates as a tonic medicine, even though there are no proven health benefits.
Conversation filmmakers Blue Sphere Media produced an incredible project called Manta's Last Dance in February 2013. They say their objective was to 'present the beauty of the manta rays (and) their willingness to interact with humans in the hope of inspiring people to conserve this magnificent animal.'
The shoot pictured an underwater model and the amazing, delicate animals to publicize the unsustainable hunting levels that are wiping out the manta ray population ahead of an important vote at the UN.
As Blue Sphere explain: The shoot is a key element in a conservation media campaign by WildAid and Shark Savers, working together on the Manta Ray of Hope project aimed to raise serious awareness for manta rays leading up to an extremely important meeting in early March.
'The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meets every 3 years, and 177 member nations vote on whether to grant international protection to certain highly threatened and endangered species. After 3 years or incredible effort, manta rays are finally on the voting ballot. Now is the time put in place urgently needed protection.'
You can sign the manta ray petition here.