Patient Manta Allows Dive Guide To Extract a Hook From Its Eye


Monty Halls and Jake Wilton helping the stricken manta ray

Film of dive guide and underwater photographer Jake Wilton extracting fish hooks from the eye of an oceanic manta ray went viral yesterday. The footage was taken by British film-maker and diver Monty Halls who was exploring Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

Jake, who last week was a finalist's in DIVE's OriginalDIVEPhoto competition with a great manta shot, was filmed repeatedly free diving down attempting to dislodge the hooks stuck in the manta's right eye.

The manta - known as Freckles to local dive guides - is calm and cooperative during the tricky process of extracting the hooks.

Monty said afterwards: 'It's one of the best things I’ve ever seen underwater.'

The large manta is seen swimming up to Jake and flipping over in the water, in what seems to be an attempt to show him her plight.

'You could see she trusted us because she was unrolling and showing us the hooks,' said Jake. 'I went down for a few dives to see how she’d react to us being close to her.'

Manta Ray Tight Crop 2 Jake Wilton

Jake's shot of a manta ray which was a finalist in OriginalDIVEPhoto 2019

The footage was released on Thursday by Ningaloo Marine Interactions, the tour company Jake works for.

Video courtesy of Seadog TV & Film Productions and Tourism Western Australia

Jake said: 'I’m often guiding snorkellers 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.'

He said he believes the manta understood that he was trying to help her. 'I went [back] down to say goodbye and she stopped and waited there,' he said



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