Private Departures, October 2015

Swim with manta rays in Indonesia

A holiday on Dunia Baru affords you the opportunity to experience so many once-in-a-lifetime moments: swimming with thousands of jellyfish, kayaking on a crater lake, walking in search of Komodo dragons and snorkeling with manta rays. And that’s what this story, published in the latest issue of Private Departures magazine, is all about.

Indonesia is fast becoming the best place in the world to see manta rays while diving – and that’s because these graceful creatures are protected in the country’s waters. To quote the story (which is about swimming with mantas while spending time on our yacht):

In early 2014 Indonesia declared itself the world’s largest manta sanctuary and outlawed all fishing and killing of these majestic marine creatures. Researchers had done some sums and calculated that in its lifetime, one manta ray brings in US$1-million in tourism revenue – and in Indonesia, according to a report in the journal PLoS One, manta tourism brings in $15-million a year. That makes conserving these marine giants far more lucrative than killing them: a dead one, sold for its plankton-filtering gills which are used mostly for medicinal concoctions in China, is worth less than US$500.

Mantas can live as long as 50 years but because of fishing, hunting and their slow rate of reproduction (females mature at around nine years and give birth to a single pup every two to five years), numbers are dwindling. The rays are now classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Increasingly, however, the waters of Indonesia are becoming one of the best places on the planet to view these gentle giants and at Takat Makassar, the dive spot near Komodo island where [we snorkeled with mantas], there is a very, very good chance you’ll see them.

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