”The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves,” says marine life artist Wyland. Keller Laros, president of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation (MPRF), agrees. Keller and his wife Wendy founded MPRF in 2002 out of their passion for manta rays. The mission of this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is to study manta rays in their natural habitat, conduct scientific research, provide education programs for the public about manta rays and the marine environment, and to establish and promote global manta ray conservation.
An underwater photographer, videographer, and certified SCUBA instructor, Keller had his first encounter with the Kona manta rays in 1985. “The summer after I graduated from college as a political science major I visited Kona with my family,” said Keller. “We went on a manta ray night dive with Jack’s Diving Locker. After my experience with the night dive, I fell in love with manta rays. They’re that kind of animal. They really affected me, so I gave up the idea of being a lawyer to become a SCUBA instructor and move to Hawai‘i.” He moved to Kona in 1991 and started leading manta ray dives shortly after.