Animals are incredible, but this manta ray in the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia exhibited some unbelievable behavior. It had been injured by fishing hooks and went to a diver it knew for help. If local tour guide Jake Wilton hadn’t been on hand to help, the injuries could have led to infection, blindness, and death.
“That manta absolutely understood what was going on,” said Monty Halls, a marine biologist on the boat. “Jake went down again and again and she just remained still for him.”
Jake is a kind guide who treats the animals with respect. It is evident they treat him the same. That’s what happens when respect is mutual.
“I’m often guiding snorkelers in the area and it’s as if she recognised me and was trusting me to help her,” Jake said. “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. The manta stayed completely still in the water.”
Even expert marine biologists are amazed by this behavior. A manta ray is one of the cleverest creatures on the planet, but they still did not expect this.
“It’s pretty incredible behaviour if this is what happened,” said David Boyle, marine biologist and university lecturer. “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.”
What do you make of this incredible encounter? Let us know in the comments, and share with your friends and family! You can check out similar stories on Happiest, like this one about rescuing pit bulls from a horrible home.