By: Caroline Ashburn
The Georgia Aquarium has a very clear mission that includes providing a home for rescued animals such as southern sea otters and sea turtles. They all have amazing stories, but did you know one of their manta rays was also a rescue?
Nandi, a manta ray, was swimming in her ocean home when she found herself caught in nets surrounding South Africa to keep sharks away. Found with some injuries, she was taken to uShaka Marine World for rehabilitation. Once her condition improved, she was quickly outgrowing her pool. That’s where the Georgia Aquarium came in – with their 6.3 million gallon Ocean Voyager exhibit.
By 2008, staff from the Georgia Aquarium had been at uShaka, learning how they cared for Nandi and get acclimated to each other. That summer, Nandi was carefully loaded into a specially designed crate to begin her long journey to Atlanta with her new and old caregivers.
Soon after a successful transport, Nandi set out to explore her new home where she has been thriving ever since. Nandi is approximately 12 feet in wingspan and one of only four manta rays in the country! The other three – Tallulah, Billi, and “manta 4” – also live in the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager habitat. Here, she is expected to live a long, full, normal life.
The Manta’s conservation status in the wild is listed as “vulnerable” greatly due to overfishing and becoming caught in fishing nets. Sadly, not every manta ray is as lucky as Nandi to find a forever home with excellent care.
As with any creature, we must be careful where we are fishing and use safe methods to better protect these amazing animals.