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VIDEO: Divers Save Oceanic Manta Entangled in Fishing Line

The manta appears to thank them after it's freed.
By Melissa Smith | Updated On October 20, 2021
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VIDEO: Divers Save Oceanic Manta Entangled in Fishing Line

It’s not every day a manta ray swoops in on a dive in Bonaire, but one recently turned a routine dive into an unforgettable experience when it approached a group of divers with what seemed like a cry for help.

Divemaster Rugene "Spider" Marinus of Toucan Diving was guiding a group of U.S. visitors at the Corporal Meiss dive site when they saw an oceanic manta approaching. It was entangled in fishing line and dragging a cluster of line, hooks and rope behind it. The experienced divemaster knew exactly what to do.

“Spider swam towards the animal and was able to remove most of the lines, but not all,” Hagen Wegerer, manager of Toucan Diving, tells the BES-Reporter. “At this, a lady from the group handed over her knife as the manta clearly came back for more help.”

manta rescue

Divemaster Rugene "Spider" Marinus of Toucan Diving holds onto the ghost gear entangled around the oceanic manta ray during its rescue.

Courtesy Toucan Diving

Phyllis Mihalas, who was diving alongside Spider, had a ceramic cutter that she handed him as the manta made a second pass around the divers. Working gently, the divers were able to remove all of the line in just a few minutes.

As a “thank you,” the manta came around a third time and did a somersault before heading back into the blue.

“What started out as another lovely dive in Bonaire turned into an experience of a lifetime,” Mihalas says in a Facebook post.

After the encounter, the divers looked up the manta using Manta Trust’s IDtheManta database. The manta, which was determined to be a female, was new to the database. This gave Spider and Mihalas the opportunity to register and name her.

Their name of choice? Spi-Phyll.