Footage Captures Rare Eagle Ray Swimming On Great Barrier Reef
Jacinta Shackleton, a marine biologist and underwater videographer, said she was 'ecstatic' when she stumbled upon the extremely rare eagle ray back in March, not least because the graceful creature let her swim along with it for more than 10 minutes.
Two weeks later, she then came across another while free diving - and this time she was able to get an ID shot.
Shackleton, who is based on Lady Elliot Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef, shared the footage from the first ray on Instagram - where she regularly shares photos and video footage from her adventures underwater - saying the current pandemic has made her aware how 'just how fortunate' she is to have spent so much time immersed in nature.
Shackleton, 26, told LADbible: "I came across the first individual early in the morning in March and I was ecstatic.
"It was a very emotional encounter for me as I had never seen one before and the ray allowed me to glide along with it for over 10 minutes as I admired the incredible patterns on its back and extremely long whip-like tail.
"I then came across another individual two weeks later (again free diving) which also allowed me to take an ID shot."
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She continued: "The ornate eagle ray is the largest of the eagle rays with a wingspan that can reach up to 4m!
"This species is endangered and not seen frequently with only around 65 sightings recorded worldwide! It was first described in the 1850s with population numbers declining since, mainly due to pressure from commercial fishing.
"Each individual has a unique pattern on its dorsal surface and this is what we use to differentiate between individuals but overall little is known about this species."
Shackleton also said she's been lucky to have many other amazing encounters during her time as a marine biologist, having even once seen a baby humpback whale breach in front of her.
She continued: "I spend every minute possible in the ocean which has allowed me to have some incredible encounters.
"I have been face to face with a tiger shark, seen a great hammerhead shark chase a baby eagle ray, witnessed a dolphin feeding right in front of me and I've also had a baby humpback whale breach just as it was swimming towards me, before meeting up with its mother again.
"I consider myself extremely lucky to have these experiences and encourage everyone to book a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and experience the magic for themselves!"
Featured Image Credit: Jacinta Shackleton
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