Guy Stevens was on a diving expedition studying Manta Rays when one in particular caught his attention. In his experience they are usually shy around humans but this very large female swam right up to him. At first he was awestruck by the moment and her beauty, but then he noticed several distinct markings on her back and sides. Then he realized that it was exposed flesh due to a fishing line that had wrapped itself around her body cutting her with deep gashes.
Armed with a diving knife he kept motioning for her to come closer and to his surprise, she did. He began to gently cut away the line and found a very large hook stuck in her mouth, which must have made it nearly impossible for her to eat. He was shocked as she remained still and allowed him to move around her cutting the line as he went. The other Manta’s were swimming all around but none ever came very close to him or the other divers. When he was finished he slowly backed away and she began to circle around him several times before swimming away. It felt like she was thanking him.
A few days later they went back to dive in the same place and soon they were surrounded by several large Mantas. One separated itself from the group and gently circled each diver until it came to Guy. He realized it was a female as she began circling him over and over again, which was definitely odd behavior. Then he noticed the cuts on her sides and back. This was the SAME Manta he had saved days earlier.
How had she recognized him? Was it possible she was searching for him when she circled the other divers? She stayed with Guy for several minutes, never paying any attention to anyone else in the dive group. The other divers stared in amazement at what was happening, they had never experienced behavior like this from Manta Rays. Eventually she slowly swam away but Guy has never forgotten that moment where it felt like she was, again, thanking him for saving her life. He could see her cuts had begun to heal and she would survive but her unique behavior reminds him of how little we know about these amazing creatures.