Giant mantas spotted off Karachi after six years

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CARACHI:

Two giant manta rays, a species related to the shark and the ray, were filmed swimming alongside the vessel commanded by Samad Bilwani and shared by WWF-Pakistan board member Zahid Maker in southwestern Karachi in the Arabian Sea on Saturday

The species, recently declared endangered by the IUCN and added to the IUCN Red List, was known to be commonly found in Pakistan, but is now becoming extremely rare, a WWF-Pakistan statement said on Sunday.

According to the statement, the last sighting of the giant manta, scientifically known as Mobula birostris, was in the waters off northern Churna Island in October 2016.

Although not directly targeted by fishing activities in Pakistan, large numbers of giant mantas become entangled in gillnet fisheries. However, their numbers have declined over the past 20 years.

“These two giant mantas have been spotted in offshore waters 50 nautical miles south of Karachi. It is extremely rare to see two giant manta rays together,” the statement read.

Read: Saving wildlife

According to Zahid Maker, it is amazing that these gentle giants circled the boat, rising to the surface and swimming alongside the boat, providing an amazing sight to behold. In many countries like the Maldives, Thailand, Costa Rica, Fiji and Mozambique, recreational dives are organized to allow swimming with giant mantas.

According to Rab Nawaz, Senior Director of Biodiversity Conservation, WWF-Pakistan, mantas and mobulas are an important part of Pakistan’s marine ecosystem.

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