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Wrangling Rays to Solve a Scientific Mystery


Devil rays are fish with wing-like fins that stretch over nine-feet wide. Every summer, a large population gathers near the Azores, an island chain to the west of Portugal. Why they do so has puzzled scientists. By outfitting some  of the rays with a specially-designed camera harness, the “Animals with Cameras” team helps scientists begin to unravel the mystery.


(outboard purring) (bubbles gurgling) [Gordon Buchanan] It's my first glimpse of these awesome creatures.

There must be 40 devil rays in front of me.

The rays can swim at 13 miles per hour.

We couldn't get close enough carrying cumbersome SCUBA gear, so, we're free-diving.

Attaching the camera will have to be done on just one breath of air.

Jorge swims down with the camera.

(gentle music) He makes it look so easy.

- [Gordon] He was straight down there, -and got it, got it first time.


The rest of the team soon get more cameras on board.

(lively music) After a few hours, the cameras are back.

- [Gordon] Oh wow.

- [Jorge] They're just swimming into the... - to the barracuda, - that's fantastic.

- [Gordon] It is a real devil ray point of view.

- It looks as if you're just another ray, - going with the group.

- [Jorge] I think they're probably - speeding very fast at this point.

- [Gordon] Yeah, the great thing is - the camera's not having any impact.

- This animal's keeping up with all the others - that don't have the camera, - so it's really unobtrusive.

- [Jorge] They've been just hovering, - and flying around the summit of the seamount.

- It really attracts them.

But suddenly, the ray starts to head down.


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