In January 2018, a young manta ray got caught in camera equipment which prompted a dramatic rescue by local divemasters.
The manta ray in question is named Nick Ray and he’s a young male who was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
How did this Manta Ray get Injured?
We weren’t there when Nick Ray got injured, but we can easily reconstruct what might have happened.
Snorkelers and scuba divers of all origins and levels travel to Kona, Hawaii to swim with mantas; some of them also bring camera equipment so they can capture the adventure of a lifetime on film.
Not everyone who does that is experienced or even has the right information available to them; and an inexperienced underwater camera person lost their equipment while on a dive…
Nick Ray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he got caught up in the equipment.
How did the Nick Ray get Rescued?
Divemasters Kevin Stewart and Sandy Hammel were leading a group of tourists on an underwater dive with manta rays, at Manta Heaven (one of the three main viewing sites around the Big Island).
When they noticed Nick Ray in his precarious position, they immediately took action… but freeing an injured manta ray from the camera equipment was not an easy undertaking!
They recall the whole operation during this short interview.
This Heart-Wrenching Manta Rescue was Avoidable.
In the video above, Sandy and Kevin share an important message for everyone who comes here to swim with mantas… and especially for people bringing camera equipment.
This is a really critical issue and a problem we have encountered increasingly over the last few years.
Taking pictures underwater is not easy, and during a night dive there’s the added challenge of a low light situation.
If you’re not an experienced diver and/or did not take the time to learn how to manage your camera when diving or snorkeling, it might be advisable to just take in the beauty and grace that you encounter… and not bother to add an extra challenge to your dive.
And if you want to learn a bit more about taking pictures under water so you and the mantas can stay safe… download my (free) PDF guide to underwater photography here!
Happy Ending + Guide to Swimming with Manta Rays
This story (thankfully) does have a happy ending; Nick Ray completely recovered from his injuries.
It has made us more vigilant: we really work to better educate guests and raise awareness around the dangers we as humans can expose manta rays (and other marine life) to.
If you have plans to go on a manta ray dive (soon or in a distant future), download our Guide to Swimming with Manta Rays below; it’s got everything you need to know to better prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.