Peru Affords Full Protection to World’s Largest Known Manta Population


This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic Voices blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world.

Text and Photos by iLCP Fellows Shawn Heinrichs

In a significant move to safeguard the world’s largest known manta population, Peru’s Ministry of Production announced on January 1, strong regulations to protect the oceanic manta ray. It is now illegal to target, capture, and retain a manta ray or trade in any manta parts across their entire range, from Peru to Ecuador, where they are already legally protected.

In 2010, WildAid’s Manta Ray of Hope team identified Peru as one of the key regions in urgent need of manta conservation. Though relatively unknown to the rest of the world, our initial research indicated that an important population of manta rays frequented the Peruvian coastline where fishermen would opportunistically target them. However, very little was known about this manta population or how much directed fisheries and bycatch were impacting the population. Assembling a team including WildAid, Manta Trust and Peruvian NGO Planeta Océano, we established a project to understand the state of this manta population and devise a conservation strategy to protect Peru’s mantas.



In April of 2015 I traveled with Josh Stewart of Manta Trust to Peru to document the current status of the project and to meet with the government concerning the status of manta conservation in Peru. Our journey took us from the bustling city of Lima to the quiet coastal fishing community of Tumbes in northern Peru, the launching point for our manta research work. Here we met up with our Planeta Océano teammates who introduced us —> Read More