Shawn Heinrichs of “Racing Extinction,” a new Discovery Channel documentary, proves that one person really can make a difference.
The crew on “Racing Extinction,” a new documentary on how we can fight extinction for certain species, comes across a manta ray tangled in fishing line with a hook lodged in its top jaw.
Shawn Heinrichs dives down and cuts the fishing line off. But the manta ray doesn’t swim away. Heinrichs returns to the ray and dislodges the hook in its jaw. The manta ray still does not flee.
The manta ray stays with Heinrichs almost as if to thank him for removing the fishing hook. It then careens off into the depths doing somersaults of gratitude.
Manta rays are considered “vulnerable,” which means that they will soon become endangered if circumstances surrounding the species don’t change. Threats such as abandoned fishing line, pollution, and slow reproductive rates attribute to the manta ray’s delicate status.
Manta rays are elusive creatures, which makes them hard to study, and they are too big to be housed in most aquariums. They are protected in international waters but can be inadvertently caught by fishermen when they come close to shore.