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Don’t Fear the Rays

Cherie Williams gives a belly rub to an appreciative ray in Belize.

© 2008 Rod Williams

"The death of the woman struck by a jumping eagle ray during a freak accident in Florida last week, and the earlier death of the ‘Crocodile Hunter’, may give some people a wrong impression of these generally harmless cartilaginous fish," writes Rod Williams of the Alameda-based Catalina 42 Azure. "Unless stepped on by humans, these gentle creatures are perfectly willing to peaceably share their ocean. The photo is of Cherie, my wife, obliging a ray’s polite request for a belly-rub in Shark Ray Alley, off Caulker Caye in Belize. Ras, our diving guide, is standing nearby."

The deaths of both the croc hunter, who was barbed, and the woman off Florida, who was killed by blunt trauma, were indeed freaks accidents. Unless stepped on, rays are as friendly as they are beautiful.

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