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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Swimming And Dancing With Mantas

Ethereal underwater photos draw attention to the plight of stunning manta rays hunted for their gills

Manta rays are beautiful, intelligent, gentle and inquisitive giants of the sea. But in the last decade a hunting trade has emerged in Asia for ray gill plates as a tonic medicine, even though there are no proven health benefits.
Conversation filmmakers Blue Sphere Media produced an incredible project called Manta's Last Dance in February 2013. They say their objective was to 'present the beauty of the manta rays (and) their willingness to interact with humans in the hope of inspiring people to conserve this magnificent animal.'
The shoot pictured an underwater model and the amazing, delicate animals to publicize the unsustainable hunting levels that are wiping out the manta ray population ahead of an important vote at the UN.
As Blue Sphere explain: The shoot is a key element in a conservation media campaign by WildAid and Shark Savers, working together on the Manta Ray of Hope project aimed to raise serious awareness for manta rays leading up to an extremely important meeting in early March.
'The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meets every 3 years, and 177 member nations vote on whether to grant international protection to certain highly threatened and endangered species. After 3 years or incredible effort, manta rays are finally on the voting ballot. Now is the time put in place urgently needed protection.'
You can sign the manta ray petition here.

Ephemeral: Model Hannah Fraser mirrors the movements of the endangered animal
Ephemeral: Model Hannah Fraser mirrors the movements of the endangered animal
Effects: The filmmakers used different lighting during the shoot
Effects: The filmmakers used different lighting during the shoot
Haunting: The intelligent creature is fully lit in its natural habitat
Haunting: The intelligent creature is fully lit in its natural habitat

Depths: Human and ray commune in the blue
Depths: Human and ray commune in the blue
At home: The model Hannah has been working as a professional mermaid for over a decade
At home: The model Hannah has been working as a professional mermaid for over a decade
So many things have to be in alignment to make a shoot this challenging come together successfully. Weather, swell, water visibility, animal interaction, the model¿s underwater ability, safety divers, lighting, temperature, and of course cameraman skill!
So many things have to be in alignment to make a shoot this challenging come together successfully. Weather, swell, water visibility, animal interaction, the model¿s underwater ability, safety divers, lighting, temperature, and of course cameraman skill!
Unsustainable fisheries are now wiping out the small and isolated manta ray populations

Unsustainable fisheries are now wiping out the small and isolated manta ray populations
Manta Ray Eco-Tourism is worth over USD 140 million world wide, and this tourism is now under severe threat from fisheries and the gill trade
Manta Ray Eco-Tourism is worth over USD 140 million world wide, and this tourism is now under severe threat from fisheries and the gill trade
The filmmakers say their objective was to 'present the beauty of the manta rays (and) their willingness to interact with humans in the hope of inspiring people to conserve this magnificent animal.'
The filmmakers say their objective was to 'present the beauty of the manta rays (and) their willingness to interact with humans in the hope of inspiring people to conserve this magnificent animal.'
Manta rays are beautiful, intelligent, gentle and inquisitive giants of the sea
Manta rays are beautiful, intelligent, gentle and inquisitive giants of the sea

In the last decade a hunting trade has emerged in Asia for ray gill plates as a tonic medicine, even though there are no proven health benefits
In the last decade a hunting trade has emerged in Asia for ray gill plates as a tonic medicine, even though there are no proven health benefits
The filmmakers say they had an 'extremely precise vision' and were 'apprehensive as to the chances of actually capturing this never before seen imagery'
The filmmakers say they had an 'extremely precise vision' and were 'apprehensive as to the chances of actually capturing this never before seen imagery'
The shoot pictured an underwater model and the amazing, delicate animals to publicize the unsustainable hunting levels that are wiping out the manta ray population ahead of an important vote at the UN
The shoot pictured an underwater model and the amazing, delicate animals to publicize the unsustainable hunting levels that are wiping out the manta ray population ahead of an important vote at the UN

The time of the manta rays is over, lost to greed and exploitation by humans. Hannah is a wanderer, a sea gypsy, a manta ray reincarnate as person, lost to the world. Alone and searching for a time long past, she gives herself up to the sea, slowly walking into the waves and drifting into the dark abyss. In a dream-state, she awakens falling through water, bubbles and lights.

An manta glides gracefully from the darkness and approaches her, brushing close to her hand and face...and she smiles. Other mantas appear and she is united with her lost family at last. A dance begins with Hannah and the mantas emulating each others movements, a dance they have done a thousand times before.

We must act now to protect manta rays or they will be lost forever
.


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