Stricken giant Manta ray asks snorkellers for help

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  • #86613

    Salina
    Participant

    I love this kind of story, and have great admiration for those fellows.

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    Freckles, a giant manta ray, is about 30 years old.
    In her time she’s beguiled hundreds of visitors to the shallow lagoons of Ningaloo Reef, a stretch of the Indian Ocean off Western Australia known for its extraordinary marine life.

    But one group of snorkellers recently realised that theirs was no ordinary encounter because Freckles, it appeared, was asking for their help.

    As the ray, which measures 3 metres across, swept through the water she seemed to recognise Jake Wilton, a wildlife guide who was leading half a dozen other swimmers, and approached him.
    When the animal rolled over and hung still, Mr Wilton was able to spot the problem: three fishing hooks were snagged under her right eye.

    Mr Wilton, 28, said: “I’m often guiding snorkellers in the area and it’s as if she recognised me and was trusting me to help her.”
    Manta rays have the largest brains of any fish and the manner in which they co-ordinate their feeding in large groups suggests a social intelligence.
    They are one of the few species that appear to recognise themselves in a mirror, a feat that eludes cats and dogs. This ability puts them in rarefied company alongside great apes, bottlenose dolphins and Asian elephants.

    “Mantas are well known for having the highest cognitive, emotional and mental functions of any of the sharks and rays,” Monty Halls, a British marine biologist who was with the diving party, said.
    “Research suggests they may have near-mammalian levels of intelligence and empathy. When you have eye contact with them, they stMr Wilton spent several minutes swimming alongside Freckles before trying to get a closer look at her injury. The ray unfurled her lobes, two horn-like protuberances on the side of her head. It was only then that he could see the three hooks.
    “She had to unroll her lobe to show me where the hooks were embedded,” Mr Wilton said. “She knew exactly what was going on. She had to show me, give me access. It’s incredible for an animal to work that out so quickly.”
    Rays rely on their vision. Concerned that Freckles’s injury would become infected and blind her, Mr Wilton set about trying to extract the hooks with a pair of pliers.
    The giant manta ray, a peaceful cousin of the shark, is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. you. They’re very curious, they build relationships.”

    Mr Wilton spent several minutes swimming alongside Freckles before trying to get a closer look at her injury. The ray unfurled her lobes, two horn-like protuberances on the side of her head. It was only then that he could see the three hooks.
    “She had to unroll her lobe to show me where the hooks were embedded,” Mr Wilton said. “She knew exactly what was going on. She had to show me, give me access. It’s incredible for an animal to work that out so quickly.”
    Rays rely on their vision. Concerned that Freckles’s injury would become infected and blind her, Mr Wilton set about trying to extract the hooks with a pair of pliers.
    The giant manta ray, a peaceful cousin of the shark, is listed as “vulnerable” bThey can grow to be 7 metres across and spend most of their life far from land, travelling on the currents and feeding on plankton, small fish and crustaceans. Unlike stingrays they are not armed with a tail spike and are harmless to humans.
    Still, removing a hook from such a massive creature demands a delicate touch. Mr Wilton, swimming in water that was about 5 metres deep without oxygen tanks, made a dozen attempts.
    The scene reminded Mr Halls of taking his children to the dentist. Freckles would stay still until the last moment. Just as the pliers approached, she would flinch and pull away.
    “The interesting thing is that, again and again, she kept on returning to Jake,” Mr Halls said. “I’m sure that manta knew that he was trying to get the hooks out.”y the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

    To his relief Mr Wilton finally managed to remove them. “I went down again, just to say goodbye and she actually stopped and just waited there,” he said. “For the wildlife to completely embrace you, that’s very special. I bawled my eyes out afterwards — that says it all.”
    Mr Halls said: “It’s dangerous to anthropomorphise too much, isn’t it? But we felt that it was saying thanks.
    “That was the moment, I think, that profoundly affected everyone in the group.”
    Two weeks later Mr Wilton was overjoyed when he saw Freckles again. “She was feeding and she stopped right on top of me and sat there for probably 20 seconds. It was as if she recognised me,” he said.

    The Australian

    12/07/19

     

     

     

    #86615
    Jen
    Jen
    Participant

    Wonderful story Salina. Thanks for posting.

    Great video at:

    https://www.facebook.com/monty.halls/videos/10156191385546316/

    #86617

    Salina
    Participant

    Fantastic. Thanks Jen.

    #86626

    williamthebold
    Participant

    I kept wondering: is this a story, or a statement of fact?
    If the latter, it would certainly be a remarkable record, and understandably heart-warming.
    I would like to believe the description.
    I would like to think that some other lifeforms have far greater intelligence than so far realised.
    I don’t have any trouble accepting that humans will go out of their way to assist them.
    But as I read through the text, watch the video, and visualise the action, I find a niggling reservation creeping in.
    Perhaps I am being over-cautious, but I would need more detail to accept the full validity of this ‘story’.
    However, if true, it is indeed scientifically noteworthy; deserving of our full attention, praise, and even awe.

    #86638
    bettym
    bettym
    Participant

    I fully believe this story. Being involved with the Marine world I hear lots of stories of how snorkelers and divers help sea life that are caught up with hooks, plastic’s and other nasties. It Is quite common for our local marine enthusiasts to have similar interactions with large sea creatures, notably Port Jackson Sharks and Fiddler Rays.

    #86643

    williamthebold
    Participant

    I just have the feeling we should be more cautious.
    Not accept statements or descriptions unless we have extreme confidence in the source.
    It doesn’t mean a story is false, just that we need to examine, analyse, dissect, until we are satisfied all is well.
    If the statement or description is incomplete, has bits which don’t quite jell with reality, or is out of the ordinary, we need to pause.
    We mustn’t jump in without looking. We mustn’t be gullible.
    Scammers have a ‘field day’ with those who are not cautious.
    So I adjure all to take greater care, and be more thoughtful before accepting what you hear spoken, or see written.

    #86647

    Salina
    Participant

    The Australian Newspaper is a very well respected media source, and I couldn’t imagine that they would not have checked out the story.

    However, I googled “Freckles” and found that the story has made International news, including the BBC and the New York Post, amongst a dozen or so I found with one click.

    I understand caution if just plucking stuff  willy nilly from the internet.

    As a side note, I often contemplate the fact that we will not in our lifetime, know fully, the minds of animals.

    I’m reminded of a dear little dog I had, who was ultra sensitive to peoples’ demeanour.  I won’t go into it now, but perhaps another time.

     

    #86650

    williamthebold
    Participant

    I think that for us to understand other minds, we must first understand and appreciate our own.
    The ‘know thyself’, and the ‘see yourself as others see you’ kind of thing.
    We can explore our own instincts and emotions far more easily than we could another person’s.
    Our brain is a living computer, running a variety of programmes we need for survival.
    Our senses will trigger these in to life as needed.
    We seem to be different from other animals by having advanced awareness, and the ability to assess situations and approach them logically.
    Man gains a better outcome by doing so.
    It aids his survival.

    It is reasonable to assume that basic emotions and feelings would be similar throughout the animal kingdom.
    Firstly, the instinct for survival would be paramount for all.
    Then thirst, hunger, pain, weariness, all common too.
    The instinct for a mother to care for and defend her young is another example of this commonality.

    But other animals don’t direct their instinctive behaviour by reason as we do.
    They react aggressively to perceived danger without ‘thinking it through’.
    Their reactions are unfettered and unbridled.
    We have the same instincts, but can use reason to direct them, and, consequently, modify our behaviour.
    We are able to plan and make useful changes around us.
    Our awareness allows us to appreciate more than just the things we need for our survival too.
    There is art; there are sunsets.
    We have the ability to appreciate that attribute we call beauty.
    We are lucky little vegemites?

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