KELLER LAROS - FOUNDER
Keller Laros had his first encounter with the manta rays of Kona, Hawaii in 1985, the same year he became a scuba instructor with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Although he graduated from Lewis and Clark college with a BS in Political Science and was leaning toward a career path in law, his trajectory was altered due to his love for diving and manta rays. In 1991, he moved to Kona, Hawaii and went to work at Jack's Diving Locker and started leading manta ray dives.
As an underwater photographer and videographer, he was able to capture images of individuals in the population, started an identification catalog, and accumulated nightly sighting data. With more than a decade of data and the prompting of many, he founded Manta Pacific Research Foundation with a team of dedicated manta enthusiasts. Keller continues to dive with the manta rays of Kona, Hawaii several nights a week and submits sighting data. He currently has over 11,000 logged scuba dives.
Keller and the MPRF team worked diligently from 2003 to 2009 to convice lawmakers in the State of Hawaii to protect manta rays. He greatly enjoyed applying his political science background to process and was very happy with the outcome. Manta rays are now protected in the State of Hawaii due to the efforts of Keller, Manta Pacific Research Foundation, and other dedicated individuals.
In 2013, Keller was on a manta ray night dive when a Bottlenose dolphin swam through the site. He noticed it had a fishing line wrapped around its left pectoral fin. He signaled to the dolphin to come to him and it did! Carefully, he removed the line and hook from this wild animal. The event was captured on video and now has millions of views. Laros has removed fishing line from mantas and sea turtles several times in his career, but never a dolphin prior to this encounter. This was truly an amazing experience.
Keller has received praise for his work in manta and marine life conservation including:
Sea Hero award for the month of July 2014 from Oris Watches and Scuba Diving Magazine
2014 PADI plaque recognizing commitment and devotion to the creation of Manta Pacific Research Foundation
2015 Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Pualu Award for Environmental Awareness for the well-being of manta rays and the marine environment.
KONA DOLPHIN RESCUE - KELLER LAROS