Ludwig Rescued an Entangled Manta Ray

28 Mar 2017

Ludwig, Assistant Dive Center Manager at Kuredu Prodivers, did an amazing job: he successfully cut a manta ray free from a fishing line!

On 19th March, Ludwig took divers on a 2-tank dive trip to Fushivaru Thila, which is one of the manta ray cleaning stations. During their dive they saw two female mantas: one of them was just passing by, but the other one stayed for about ten minutes and that was when Ludwig noticed that a fishing hook was stuck in the manta’s belly and that a long fishing line was wrapped around the manta’s cephalic lobes and pelvic fins. Seeing that, Ludwig got closer to the manta to cut off a part of the line with his knife. Getting frightened, the manta swam away. After fifteen minutes, just before the divers wanted to surface, the manta returned and since Ludwig had gained its trust, he could continue the detangling by swimming just next to the manta in need of help.

Then the manta got even more trustful and ‘sat down’ on top of the reef, and was just in the right position for Ludwig to take off the hook and detangle the line. Briefly after this, the liberated manta swam away, leaving Ludwig, with the whole fishing line and hook in his hands, deeply touched.

The saved manta is Mr Flappy; Mr Flappy is actually Ms Flappy, one of the largest female reef manta rays that we have on record – her wingspan is 3.5 meters! Mr Flappy resides both in Lhaviyani and Baa Atolls, but hadn’t been seen in our atoll for six years; 9th March this year was when Lisa, Hurawalhi’s resident marine biologist, again spotted her feeding at Fushivaru Kandu.

This bittersweet encounter will surely be remembered by the six divers and instructor Davy, who were in Ludwig’s group. This was not the first manta ray that we saved and probably not the last one either – unfortunately, it is not uncommon for manta rays to get entangled. Once trapped, their inability to swim backwards makes it very difficult for them to rescue themselves, so the fishing lines remain hooked onto their bodies, resulting in cuts and scars, sometimes even the loss of a fin.