Protected Resources

Manta Rays

Left: Reef manta (Manta alfredi) - illustration by Lydie Couterier; Right: Giant manta ray (Manta birostris) - CSIRO National Fish Collection
Left: Reef manta (Manta alfredi) - illustration by Lydie Couterier; Right: Giant manta ray (Manta birostris) - CSIRO National Fish Collection

Current Management Issues

On January 12, 2017, we announced a proposed rule (82 FRN 3694) to list the giant manta ray (Manta birostris) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We also announced that the reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) does not warrant listing at this time. After completing a comprehensive status review for both species, and after taking into account efforts being made to protect these species, we determined that the giant manta ray is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we propose to list the giant manta ray as a threatened species under the ESA.

Additionally, we determined that the reef manta ray is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range nor likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Therefore, we find that the reef manta ray does not warrant listing under the ESA at this time.

Public Comments and Information We Seek on the Giant Manta Ray Proposed Listing

A 60-day public comment period on the proposal to list the giant manta ray under the ESA is open until March 13, 2017. You may submit comments and information via the Federal eRulemaking Portal here. We will consider public comments and new information before making a final listing decision, which is expected in January 2018.

We are also soliciting information on the population structure, habitat use, abundance, and distribution of the species, as well as threats and planned activities that may impact the species, and efforts being made to protect the giant manta ray. Information on potential areas of critical habitat within waters under U.S. jurisdiction is also requested.

Background

On November 10, 2015, we received a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the giant manta ray, reef manta ray, and the Caribbean manta ray, range-wide or, in the alternative, any identified DPSs, as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The petitioners also requested that we designate critical habitat concurrent with a final listing.

On February 23, 2016, NOAA Fisheries made a positive 90-day finding (81 FR 8874), determining that the petitioned action to list the giant manta ray and the reef manta ray under the ESA may be warranted. A comprehensive status review was conducted to inform the 12-month finding.

We also made a negative 90-day finding that substantial information was not presented to indicate that the Caribbean manta ray (Manta c.f. birostris) is a taxonomically valid species or subspecies for listing, and, therefore did not warrant listing at this time.

On June 28, 2016, NOAA Fisheries announced a negative 90-day finding (81 FR 41958) on a petition to list two Distinct Population Segments (DPSs) of reef manta rays in Hawaii as threatened species under the ESA: the Maui reef manta ray and the Kona reef manta ray. We found that the petition and information in our files did not present substantial information indicating that either the Maui or Kona reef manta ray population qualified as a DPS under the ESA. As such, we found that the petition did not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the Maui or Kona reef manta ray populations are “species” eligible for listing under the ESA.

Key Documents

More Information

Please visit our Protected Resources Division's ESA Section 4 page for more information on the ESA here.

Please visit the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources' manta ray species page for more info here.