Manta Pacific Research Foundation founder, Keller Laros, is a PADI scuba instructor and dive guide with Jack’s Diving Locker on the Kona Coast of the island of Hawaii.  He has over 10,000 logged dives and has certified and guided thousands of divers in a career that spans 30 years in the dive industry.  In January 2013, he was leading divers on the world famous Manta Ray Night Dive when a lone bottlenose dolphin swam through the manta dive site.  After several passes, the dolphin let out a loud squeak and Keller then realized the dolphin had fishing line wrapped around its left pectoral fin.  He signaled for the dolphin to come and it did.  He proceeded to remove the fishing line from this animal in distress.  The behavior exhibited by the dolphin and the bravery exhibited by Laros are worth watching.  This event was captured by a videographer on the manta dive and that video now has close to 10 million cumulative views on the Internet.

Manta Pacific Research Foundation is dedicated to research, education, and conservation concerning manta rays and the marine environment.  The foundation worked for six years toward manta protection in the State of Hawaii and now ACT 092(09) is a law that prohibits the capture or killing of manta rays in state waters.  The path to protection included many tried and true methods such as presenting law makers with scientific data, written and verbal testimony, a petition, and even hand drawn pictures from school children urging protection for manta rays.

Alexander's artAlthough these methods worked for this important cause, there is much more to do.  The foundation is funding scientific research for manta rays, continuing existing projects such as the manta identification project, and developing new projects such as the Manta Rescue Project.  The foundation has been in existence since 2002 and has proven to be an organization that affects change.

The question now is how to combine social media awareness and the worthy cause of manta conservation?  In the article Activism or slacktivisim? The role of social media in effecting social change, Jones (2013) states, “Most successful online activism exist to augment successful off-line campaigns.”  This is good news because as an organization, this foundation has  been successful in running an off-line campaign.  What they need now are the tools and strategies to run an online campaign.

Unknown-1On the ABC news, Rebecca Jarvis interviewed Jerome Jarre in Social Media Star on the Art of  Making Viral Videos.  When giving advice on how to be successful with social media awareness, he states, “Post everyday.  You start to become part of the people’s everyday life.  Definitely do something that no one else is doing.  You must be different or else there is no point in following you.”

More research must be done, but the advice from Jones and Jarre is a good start.  In regards to an already established off-line campaign, the foundation already has a track record and new programs are being developed.  In regards to a social media presence, the foundation can associate with the dolphin rescue video, however, fresh, original content needs to be posted for followers to be interested and to build the momentum.