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MANTA: Secret Life of Devil Rays

Written by Dr. Guy Stevens. Photography by Thomas P. Peschak

The World's First Book on Manta Rays.

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Manta rays are the embodiment of nature's majesty - they captivate and connect people to our oceans. Marine biologist Dr. Guy Stevens, and National Geographic photographer Thomas P. Peschak, join forces to create the world's first book on manta rays.

As co-founders of the conservation charity, The Manta Trust, they combine groundbreaking photography and the latest scientific research to create a unique book on these charismatic animals. The authors hope that this definitive publication will convey the grace and inquisitive nature of these threatened rays, capturing what is at stake if we choose not to respect and protect our oceans.



The Manta Trust is a UK and US-registered charity, formed in 2011 to co-ordinate global research and conservation efforts around manta rays. Our vision is a world where manta rays and their relatives thrive within a globally healthy marine ecosystem.

The Manta Trust takes a multidisciplinary approach to conservation. We focus on conducting robust research to inform important marine management decisions. With a network of over 20 projects worldwide, we specialise in collaborating with multiple parties to drive conservation as a collective; from NGOs and governments, to businesses and local communities. Finally, we place considerable effort into raising awareness of the threats facing mantas, and educating people about the solutions needed to conserve these animals and the wider underwater world.

Made possible thanks to:

MANTA: Secret Life of Devil Rays was published by the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF), an NGO funding innovative projects on marine research, conservation and education around the globe. In 2007, Guy Stevens' manta research in the Maldives was one of the first conservation projects funded by SOSF. A decade later, this collaboration has evolved into a proud partnership in which SOSF delightedly supports the influential mobulid conservation projects Manta Trust conducts, such as the creation of this book.


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Thomas P. Peschak is an assignment photographer for National Geographic Magazine. He is a Founding/Associate Director of the Manta Trust, and a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has been named as one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world.

Originally trained as a marine biologist specializing in human–wildlife conflict, he retired from science fieldwork in 2004. He became an wildlife photojournalist after realizing that he could have a greater conservation impact through photographs than statistics. His work focuses on some of the most critical marine conservation issues of our time. 

In 2008, Thomas photographed his first story for National Geographic Magazine in the northern Maldives, in a tiny body of water called Hanifaru Bay. Now known as a manta ray Mecca, Thomas  regularly found himself in the eye of a storm of cyclone-feeding mantas, encountering hundreds of rays throughout a month-long assignment. The experience was integral to his mission to nurture a connection between people and manta rays, and highlight the conservation crisis these animals face around the world. 

Through this book, Thomas hopes that his manta images transcend the printed page, and pass on some of the awe and excitement he has felt during every manta encounter.


In 2005 Guy Stevens founded the Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP), with the aim of helping to conserve the Maldivian manta ray population through active research and education. In 2011, Guy went on to co-found The Manta Trust with Thomas P. Peschak, bringing together a collaboration of scientists, conservationists, photographers, filmmakers and communicators. His work with manta rays now takes him to other corners of the world, but for him the Maldives will always be the best place to see and study these amazing animals.

Guy’s research on the Maldivian mantas, especially in the famous Hanifaru Bay, has been showcased in dozens of popular articles - including a feature in National Geographic Magazine, as part of Tom's first story for the publication - and several television documentaries aired around the world (BBC, ITV, National Geographic, Animal Planet, ABC). Guy’s research in Hanifaru contributed to the declaration of Baa Atoll as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2011. Guy and the rest of the Manta Trust team were key players in securing a spot for both species of manta, and more recently all mobula rays, on Appendix II of CITES,  and the Convention on Migratory Species - both key pieces of international legislation that have greatly improved the level of global protection for these vulnerable animals. 

Guy hopes that this book will evoke the desire and empathy within each reader, to seek out their own underwater encounter with these fascinating animals - in turn, opening their eyes and minds to connecting with the ocean we all depend upon.



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SIR RICHARD BRANSON (Ocean Elder & Founder of Virgin Group)

Guy and Thomas have brought together their knowledge and expertise to create a book that perfectly captures the essence of manta rays. It stirred within me a desire to do more to help conserve our oceans, and I hope that it does the same for you!
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DOUG ALLAN (Wildlife Cameraman & Photographer)

Mantas can’t fail to impress, they’re spectacular animals to encounter underwater, and Guy’s level of knowledge about them and their individual characters gave me a whole new level of fascination.
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DOUG PERRINE (Marine Wildlife Photographer)

MANTA: Secret Life of Devil Rays, is one of those rare volumes that is both gorgeous to look at, and fascinating to read. Although the author and most of the contributors are scientists, they write in a style that is easily accessible to the average reader. Stevens has avoided the temptation, to which many academics succumb, to write in arcane jargon that can only be appreciated by fellow researchers. Yet, the content is not in any way “dumbed down.” I have been reading and writing about these rays for many years, and yet found something that was new and surprising to me on page after page.

            The text is, unsurprisingly, biased somewhat toward the manta population of the Republic of Maldives, where Stevens has conducted most of his research. However there are also sections concerning populations elsewhere, and much of the text is applicable to mantas worldwide. As one would expect of a creative and dedicated photographer who is regularly featured in National Geographic Magazine, Tom Peschak has produced an extraordinary compliment of photos well-suited to the large format of the book. The book is worth the purchase price for its decorative value alone, but the buyer who takes the time to read it through will be amply rewarded.
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HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL (Chef, Journalist, Food & Environmental Campaigner)

Guy Stevens and Thomas Peschak’s beautiful book Manta: Secret Life of the Devil Rays combines stunning photography with the gripping story of the Mantas’ natural history, and an urgent conservation message. Guy Stevens is devoting his life to understanding these truly magical animals, and he writes about them with as much authority as passion. There can be no more charismatic icon for our rapidly changing seas, and no more urgent reason to take better care of them.
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Available worldwide via NHBS and Amazon. A significant proportion of every sale goes towards funding the on-going work of the Manta Trust.*

£39.99 / $52.00 / €44.00

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*Manta Trust receives a significantly larger donation with sales made via NHBS.