The giant manta rays of northern Peru face acute pressure as unrestrained human demand plunders the ocean of fish. For conservationist Kerstin Forsberg, these placid giants of the sea are a symbol of all we stand to lose, an icon for other threatened marine species. Their slow breeding cycles make them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. Her NGO, Planeta Océano, is introducing a global model for community-based marine conservation. This includes empowering sustainable, local manta tourism that provides income to fishing communities, while employing fishermen and tourists as citizen scientists to collect data on manta demographics. It also prompted the Peruvian government to legally protect the giant fish.
Schools in northern Peru participating in the Planeta Océano educational outreach programme.
Number of pups produced by giant mantas every two to seven years.