Maliksi, the playful manta that diver Nico Soriano saw with one of its pectoral fin gone. (Photo by Louie Bacosa)
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Last Monday, we were out for another fun dive in our favorite spot around Busuanga. It has been our go-to dive site for months now because of its rich coral reef where mantas and big fishes are frequently spotted. We’ve been diving there countless times already, and we witnessed how many mantas are usually playing around there (we even identified and gave names to some of them), their behavior, how the area serves as their feeding station and even learned what the water looks like when they’re not around.

It’s always a pure moment of bliss every time we get to see them, especially when they are the ones moving closer at us and play around.

But last Monday was different, we saw a different view that broke our hearts. As we were floating at the surface waiting for marine life to appear, we saw a manta ray unconsciously lying still on a coral bed, then as we get closer, we clearly recognized that his other pectoral fin was missing, a clear sign that it was cut by a knife-like object. And even his entire back was almost cut in half. We also found out that he was “Maliksi” (by the unique spot pattern in his belly), one of the playful mantas we always encounter.

A sad encounter when “Maliksi” the cheerful manta, was found lying dead on top of corals in the waters of Busuanga, northern Palawan. (Photo by Louie Bacosa)

We don’t know what to say at that very devastating moment, but this experience has been an eye-opener for us. It’s like seeing your friend lying on the floor dead.

What would you do?

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From now on, our community assures to be more proactive in marine conservation efforts, including educating local fishermen about protecting marine life, promoting responsible marine interaction and be more proactive in coastal and underwater cleanups to reduce marine pollution.

We already reported it with the local DENR and BFAR office and they’re currently taking actions regarding this matter. Reef manta rays are considered vulnerable and currently decreasing in number which may lead to extinction in the near future.

This is the most heart-wrenching photo (and video I made). I hope this will be my last edit of this kind.

Thank you Louie Bacosa, Mj Ricafrente, and Edzel Ugalde, for the footage.


Nico Soriano is the owner and founder of CTS Diving, co-owner of Seazoned Coron, and co-founder of Seazoned Philippines. He posted this story of his encounter on February 27, 2019, on his Facebook account.

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