Belize this week established what's believed to be the world's first sanctuary for rays, many of them believed to be threatened with extinction.
Researchers from Florida International University, as part of Global FinPrint, a survey of the world's shark and ray population, provided the data that convinced the government of the need. Belize is the site of large coral reefs and is believed to host over 20 species of rays, including some of the rarest.
“I was surprised to hear how threatened rays are globally and decided that Belize could be a good global citizen by protecting them,” said Belize Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade. “Neighboring countries are exploiting rays, but here in Belize, rays are valuable to our tourism industry.”
Global FinPrint is a three-year survey of reef sharks and rays throughout the world and is led by researchers from FIU in collaboration with Australia's James Cook University, Curtin University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, as well as Canada's Dalhousie University. The project has received core funding from philanthropist Paul G. Allen.