Not too long ago I posted some images on the Matthew Oldfield Photography Facebook page of mobula rays being butchered on a beach here in Bali. The images attracted a lot of attention, some of which was quite hostile and antagonistic. In the end I decided to take the images down and think about how I can help to raise awareness of this growing problem in other ways.
By way of background, my aim was to use the images to highlight the recent increase in demand for manta and mobula gill rakers, used in some modern incarnations of traditional Chinese medicines. This demand has led to rays being targeted in many parts of the world – a pressure which will certainly lead to local extinctions or possibly worse. Mobula and manta rays, like sharks, have low reproductive rates and intensive fishing will wipe these animals out. It is a not a question of 'If', but 'When'…
As for Bali, I do not know whether the fishermen involved are deliberately targeting rays, nor do I know whether they were selling the gill rakers. In fact, the only thing I do know for certain is that the meat was being sold – I saw this with my own eyes. Basically I posted the images for illustrative purposes only, in an attempt to raise awareness. I was not in any way, shape or form, attempting to blacken Bali or Indonesia's reputation, nor was I lying about where I photographed these rays. I was simply documenting what I saw.
In the original post on Facebook, I posted links to various sites where people can learn more about this growing problem, and I will do so again, here. I hope to post further news about this problem here on my blog as I am still determined to do what I can to stop these animals being targeted here in Indonesia.
If you are interested in seeing the images, they are still available online in my archive. Please use the search page, entering the keyword 'Mobula'.