Footage Captures Injured Manta Ray 'Approaching Diver For Help'
A manta ray was caught on film seemingly urging a diver to help save her life by removing some hooks which were embedded in her.
The three-metre-wide ray can be seen swimming up to diver Jake Wilton, once she reaches him, she flips over in what looks like an attempt to show him that she has hooks caught in her right eye.
Wilton is more than happy to help the animal and gently removes the hooks, while the well-behaved ray stays still. Once he's finished the sea creature swims off, seemingly pleased that it's been sorted.
Experts say if the hooks hadn't been removed there's a good chance the eye would have become infected, which could have made the manta ray go blind or even kill her.
The animal is well-known to locals who live near the Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia's north-west coast and has even been given the cute nickname Freckles.
Marine biologist Monty Halls, who was on the boat at the time, is certain that Freckles swam over to Wilton for assistance.
"Jake went down again and again and again," he said. "And the animal didn't move away, because I think the manta knew that Jake was trying to get the hooks out.
"She understands what's just happened. Again and again - attempt after attempt.
"It was brilliant. It was one of the best things I've ever seen underwater."
Wilton, who works for Ningaloo Marine Interactions which shared the footage, was quick to downplay his kind actions.
He said: "I'm often guiding snorkelers in the area and it's as if she recognised me and was trusting me to help her.
"She got closer and closer and then started unfurling to present the eye to me. I knew we had to get the hooks out or she would have been in big trouble. I went for a few dives down to see how she'd react to me being close to her."
Clearly, she was fine with it because as Wilton explained she 'stayed completely still in the water' while he took the spikes out.
David Boyle, who works at the University of Plymouth as a marine biology lecturer told the Independent: "It's pretty incredible behaviour if this is what happened. It's not uncommon for animals - generally mammals - to interact with divers but for one in distress to seek out assistance would be novel indeed."
Featured Image Credit: Monty Halls/Ningaloo Marine Interactions