In late July, Diana Belton and Alice Martino successfully pulled off the first Manta Ray Ball, in support of Project AWARE. Diana and Alice went above and beyond to create a truly memorable evening for everyone to enjoy.
It’s the magic of swimming with manta rays that inspired Diana and Alice to organize the event, which raised an astounding AUD $16,000 in Coral Bay, Australia. Originally from Canada, Diana spends her days as a manta tour guide in the heart of the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park; you say she’s passionate about protecting manta rays. Alice, meanwhile, swapped the waters of Lake Como, Italy, for Ningaloo Reef and is also mad about mantas!
“We swim with mantas almost every day and get to see them enjoy their natural habitat,” said Diana. “Mantas should be safe to swim oceanwide, not only in dedicated marine parks. As divers we want the chance to see manta rays everywhere these animals choose to populate.
“We hope one day everywhere can benefit from eco tourism just like Coral Bay. Here we’re fortunate to have a strong population of coastal manta rays and manta-ray tourist experiences take place daily,” she said.
Scuba divers have a strong voice and together we’re achieving major milestones. With a passion for the ocean like no other, divers are naturally concerned about declines in marine species, and your generous donations will help protect threatened species.
International trade in gill rakers — the tight-knit, feathery structures these filter feeders use to strain plankton — is driven by Asian markets for Chinese medicine and poses an immediate threat to their survival. Migration Media, a local production company, produced a video — “Stop the Demand: Breaking the cycle of the manta-ray trade” — for the event and to raise awareness about the plight of manta rays.
A big shout out and thank you to Diana, Alice and everyone involved from Coral Bay to Exmouth, and those who hosting mini events and donated around the world. Visit Project Aware to learn how to help.