Sunday Mar 06, 2022
KARACHI: Two giant mantas, species that are a relative of the shark and stingray, were videoed swimming in the southwest of Karachi in the Arabian Sea on March 5, a statement issued by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) said Sunday.
This species, recently declared “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and added to the IUCN Red List, was commonly found in Pakistan, but is now rarely seen. The last sighting of the giant manta was in the offshore waters north of Churna Island in October 2016.
The two giant mantas were now spotted in the offshore waters 50 nautical miles south of Karachi. It is extremely rare to see two giant manta rays together.
Despite belonging to the shark family, giant mantas are harmless animals that feed on small shrimps.
Fearing the disappearance of manta rays from Pakistan, WWF-Pakistan declared them as endangered species in 2016, and provincial fisheries departments banned killing and selling them.
The population of manta rays is decreasing at an alarming rate in Pakistan because of the pressure on the fishing industry, said WWF-Pakistan's Senior Director Conservation Biodiversity, Rab Nawaz.
Technical Advisor at WWF-Pakistan Muhammad Moazzam Khan stressed the need for declaring Churna Island as a marine protected area (MPA) since it is known to be the last abode of giant manta and other megafauna (whale shark, sunfish, whales and dolphins).