Extraordinary footage shows manta ray appealing to diver for help 

A giant manta ray has been filmed in Western Australia appearing to appeal a diver to help unlodge dangerous fish hooks that have become embedded in her right eye.

The extraordinary footage of the moving encounter between the injured sea creature and human divers was taken by Monty Halls, a British marine biologist who was part of a freediving group exploring Ningaloo Reef off Australia’s north west coast. Mr Halls called it “one of the best things I’ve ever seen underwater.”

The three-metre-wide manta, which is known affectionately to locals as Freckles, is seen swimming up to Jake Wilton, a snorkeling guide, 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 Mr Wilton in the video. “I went down for a few dives to see how she’d react to us being close to her.”

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

Manta rays are highly intelligent creatures Credit: Getty Images Contributor/NiCK

He told the Independent: “I’m often guiding snorkellers in the area and it’s as if she recognised me and was trusting me to help her,” he said.

“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.”

The footage seems to show the manta ray resting perfectly still to allow Mr Wilton to gently remove the painful spikes.

Mr Wilton described the interaction as “incredible behaviour” and 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.