Friend of the Sea Launches First-Ever Sustainable Manta Ray Watching Standard

Friend of the Sea Launches First-Ever Sustainable Manta Ray Watching Standard

Enables fun, safe and environmentally sustainable practices for operators of manta ray watching excursions and “swim with manta ray” programs

Friend of the Sea, the preeminent global certification standard for products and services that respect and protect the marine environment, today announced that it has launched the first-ever sustainable standard for manta ray watching excursions. Tour operators are now offering “swim with manta ray” activities. The standard makes it possible for people to enjoy the experience while protecting the species from harm that come from human contact.

We are always happy to see people wanting to learn more about the sea and experience the wonders of its creatures, but we need to encourage practices that keep the animals and their habitats safe,” said Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. “That’s the purpose of our new manta ray watching standard.

The manta ray watching standard is similar to Friend of the Sea’s whale shark watching standard. It sets a maximum number of manta ray watching vessels that can be in a given area at any one time.  It limits maximum approach speed and distance between the boats and the manta rays. At the same, it prohibits swimmers from touching manta rays. The standard comes with a training program that helps the tour operator and crew conduct manta ray watching in a safe, sustainable way. It also prohibits single-use plastics on board the tour boats.

Operators can apply confidentially to be accredited for the standard. The certification is voluntary and not mandatory to gain access to markets. The application process is not discriminatory based on the size, scale, management and minimum number of operators. The application is available online at:

https://friendofthesea.org/marine-conservation-projects-and-awareness/manta-ray-watching-2/