A giant manta ray is swimming free after divers off Costa Rica released it from a fishing line it was tangled in, and the entire episode was caught on video.
The manta ray approached divers off Costa Rica’s Bat Islands earlier this month, and according to the Daily Mail, seemed to be pleading for help from them. The ray was caught in a tangled fishing line, which can be painful or even deadly to the fish. The divers obliged, cutting the thick line away from the manta.
Manta rays can grow to have a wingspan of 18 feet, and some of the largest individuals weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. They are a type of eagle ray and are under strict protection, as they are considered a threatened species. Overfishing is one of the greatest threats to manta rays, as they are harvested for their meat, skin, and oils.
After the divers removed the fishing line from the ray, it did a backflip, as if in joy at being freed. Clear of the entangling line, the manta went on its way. The entire incident was captured on video by one of the divers, and the team member who cut away the offending line kept it as a souvenir of the unusual encounter, distributing pieces of it to each diver.
“We picked up the line,” one of the divers said, according to the Daily Mail. “It’s our trophy now! Brian, the diver who cut the line, gave a little piece for all divers there!”
Just last week, a new set of standards were introduced, aiming at protecting sharks and manta rays from overfishing. According to the Washington Post, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora, known as CITES, announced the rules, which require fisherman in the 180 member nations to obtain a permit to hunt sharks and manta rays for their fins or meat.