Manta rays will be the focus of a weeklong celebration at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island.
Manta rays will be the focus of a weeklong celebration at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island. Photo Credit: Bo Pardau

The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii will begin a weeklong celebration of manta rays Aug. 16, hoping to not only raise awareness about conservation efforts for the remarkable ocean creatures but also to contribute additional funding to a local manta ray research organization.

The weeklong event, dubbed Malama Hahalua: Manta Ray Week, will feature a range of both educational, cultural and artistic components, including a Manta Ray Instagram contest using #MantaRayWeek for manta-themed photo submissions. The word hahalua is Hawaiian for manta ray, and malama means to take care of or protect.

Other event highlights include lectures and talk story sessions with manta ray experts and researchers, musical performances, a silent auction of work by local Hawaii artisans benefitting manta research, and nightly group viewing opportunities of live manta rays in the Pacific from the Sheraton Kona’s oceanfront courtyard.

“Our resident manta rays in Keauhou Bay are a unique, globally recognized icon of the Kona Coast,” Matthew Grauso, the Sheraton Kona general manager, said in a statement. “We believe it’s our kuleana [responsibility] to support the Manta Pacific Research Foundation, which performs outreach and conservation efforts to protect the manta rays.”

Manta Ray Week coincides with the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Sheraton Kona’s Manta Learning Center, established as place for hotel guests to learn more about the ocean creatures in partnership with the non-profit Manta Pacific Research Foundation.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.sheratonkona.com/manta-ray-week.

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