It’s been about 18 years since they’ve been spotted in this area of the Andaman sea off the coast of Thailand, but snorkelers around the Rok Islands spotted a few manta rays. They are a vulnerable species that are rarely sighted in the area and are known to be the largest type of rays in the world.
The area off the coast of southern province Trang is known for copious marine biodiversity, but the snorkelers still encountered a very fortunate treat as normally only scuba divers see manta rays and even that is quite rare. The enormous rays can grow to weigh up to 1,350 kilogrammes and be between 3 and 6.7 metres in width.
Manta rays often prefer warm tropical waters and tend to live around coral reefs. The Rok Islands are by Mu Koh Lanta National Park, and dive sites around the area are popular for attracting exciting sea creatures like the rays. Hin Daeng Hin Muang is a popular scuba diving site in the area where a lot of sea life can be found.
With Covid-19, the Rok Islands and the waters around it have been relatively free of tourists and have had some recovery and growth time, making them more attractive to manta rays.
Because of overfishing for several decades, manta rays have now landed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s endangered species list. It is hoped that the slowdown of human activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic might allow the rays, like other animals and nature, to recover and thrive.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World