Giant Manta Ray swipes $5k camera rig from diver, shoots some video

Via the BB Submitterator, Melanie says,

A camera crew for the show Into the Drink was filming Mantas off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii when one of the giant Pacific Manta Rays took a camera off one of the divers. After swimming around for a bit with the camera still rolling, the Manta dropped the rig off on the sea floor under their boat. Another diver filmed the camera equipment being taken by the Manta.
Video and more about the manta mugging here (


  1. The poor manta’s just trying to feed from that bait ball, and the silly cameraman just gets right up in his grill. Sorry, but that’s the photog’s fault. I mean, I know mantas aren’t cuddly and cute like marine mammals, but it’s still wrong to harass them like this, isn’t it?

    My own personal strategy when I’ve shot wild animals is to give them the space to be their own selves, as if I weren’t even there. Now, if the critter gets curious and comes to investigate… that’s a different deal. Here, though he’s placed himself right between them and the food they are going after. Not cool.

    1. “I mean, I know mantas aren’t cuddly and cute like marine mammals…”

      Speak for yourself. I think they’re pretty damn cute. Not sure about cuddly– “cuttle-y”, maybe?

  2. You can hear nothing but smug in the guy’s voice as he describes what happened.. the closing line seals the deal.

    “I got the shot.”

    Similar comments are generated whenever I’m out at an event with friends and something exciting happens. We all huddle up and compare LCD screens, boasting about who “got the shot” better.

      1. Smug jerks with DSLR’s, you mean.

        But don’t let me stop you from acting like an ass on the internet, please continue.

  3. @mkultra:

    The poor manta’s just trying to feed from that bait ball…

    Mantas are krill-eating filter-feeders, I think. Probably feeding on the same thing as those bait-ball fish.

    1. @iamcantaloupe: trading up from a camera to a spear gun? that octo knew a good trade when s/he saw one. seems like the guy shouldn’t have offered either of them if he didn’t want the octopus to take them, lol.

    2. That was the first thing I thought of too. I wonder if we should be concerned about this rise in undersea camera theft. Perhaps somewhere there’s a cameraman who’s had his gear nicked by a roving gang of shrimp, but he’s too shamed to come forward.

  4. Encounters like this leave a manta ray more vulnerable to infection. The diver should be more careful. In particular, the lights effectively act as bait for the mantas. I would feel responsible if a bird visiting my feeder were to hit the window. This diver should have a similar sense of responsibility.

  5. Hang on, the manta stole it, then swam the camera around and then back up to the boat and then dropped it. My dog wouldn’t even do that.

  6. This is awesome! @mkultra you have no clue what you are talking about. @Quaternion the lights attract plankton which in turn attracts the mantas. Travis was basically feeding the mantas. Clearly just a freak accident.

    1. Not a freak accident. The photographer was careless and got lucky. Any of you shot underwater video? Any of you had a night encounter with mantas? I would be embarrassed to have been caught on tape acting as irresponsible as this photographer was.

  7. Hey, the manta’s footage is better than some that I’ve seen on YouTube, and maybe even a few professional movies.

    More footage like this and you could splice together a Cloverfield-like movie underwater and pretend it was intentional.

  8. That spot off of Kailua-Kona has conditioned Mantas to visit for plankton for about 40 years. Divers from around the world show up every night, huddle around a battery-operated “Camp Fire” and shine their lights up, while snorkelers arranged in floating rings shine lights down from the surface. All that light attracts the plankton, which, after 40 years of conditioning, means that Mantas show up for all you can eat salad bar night at ABC. The shooters hang between the divers at the bottom and the snorkelers at the top, and video everything. It’s not too bad an eco-system, especially as everyone involved is told to never touch the mantas, so they don’t get skin infections.

    I saw some footage on one diver at the bottom getting a hug from a moray eel while he watched the manta ballet. The diver didn’t even know the eel was on him, he was so enraptured by the rays. If you get a chance to do this, it’s pretty amazing. A life-changing event, I’d say.

    1. Bmcraec, do you have a link to the video with the moray eel? I’m wondering if that’s the video the dive shop shot where moray eel wrapped around my first stage and drapped over my shoulder.

  9. seems as though the ray was just pissed off at having some massive lights shined in its face, so figured it was try and show them what it wants them to do,,, which is leave..

    “look ill even take your equiptment back for you guys, so bloody leave”

  10. This is a pretty interesting moment of human-sea animal interaction and all some of you can do is slag the camera man for being smug or intrusive?

    Take it down a notch and appreciate this instead. They weren’t poaching these animals. If anything it was a beneficial experience to learn that manta rays are capable of doing this, and now precautions will be taken so it doesn’t happen again.

    Try not to be offended by everything, is what I’m saying.

  11. Sorry, make that…
    “Oooh, let’s film the zones, the zones, the zones. Let’s film the zones of the open sea!”

  12. Manta ray grabs a camera, swims off in a very deliberate manner, then delivers the camera right back to the photographers. Have they looked closely at the Manta’s footage? Perhaps it was trying to show you something vitally important. That manta ray may very well have been a hyperintelligent being attempting to warn us all of some apocalypse or to show us something extremely important and awesome, and all these guys can do is attribute it to silly fish behavior and pat themselves on the back for filming “curious behavior.”

    Don’t these people watch SciFi originals? This is the opening sequence to like 85 of them, verbatim!

  13. I meeting some guy from craigslist named “manta Joe” to buy an under water camera rig for $200.00

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