Photo shows giant beam approaching surfer in Wildwood

Close encounters with ocean creatures are far from uncommon on the Jersey Shore.

In recent years, a whale has collided with a fishing boat off the coast of Deal in Monmouth County, and a humpback whale on the foot of a paddleboarder off Long Branch. Lifeguards rescued a dolphin stranded ashore in Sea Isle City and a so-called “dolphin whisperer” captured video of a pod off the coast of Stone Harbor. A 279-pound sea turtle was rescued off the coast of Avalon.

Earlier this month, a great white shark was filmed just yards from a fishing boat off the coast of Sea Isle City. The list goes on, and for fun we’ll add this incredible video of a raccoon surviving a nine-story dive from a building on Ocean City’s boardwalk.

This week we have a pretty awesome shot of a huge beam that popped up a few feet away from a surfer off the coast of Wildwood. The photo is a bit blurry, but in a way that almost enhances the reaction when your eyes close in on the surfer looking back at the beam hitting the belly.

Commenters on the Instagram post said the photo was taken earlier in June at Rambler Road beach. One commentator said that this type of experience is quite typical, as many species of rays tend to stay near the surface of the water.

“I did this at Sandy Hook… the rays like to swim with people,” commentator @sonicfeather wrote. “They seem to really enjoy the human company in the water.”

The Jersey Shore is home to a range of stingrays and rays, including stingrays and skates, sting rays, snub-nosed rays, bullnose rays, and thornback rays. Cownose rays have also become common off the New Jersey coast, where they tend to travel from the south at this time of year because the water is warmer. They are usually docile, but occasionally sting people, as happened to a fisherman off the coast of Harvey Cedars in 2018.

It’s not clear in Wildwood’s photo what type of beam was next to the surfer, but it’s unlikely the person in the photo was in serious danger. Most rays are not aggressive towards humans unless directly provoked, and some research suggests they even enjoy being touched by humans – although it’s not recommended, especially in the wild.

Stingrays are sometimes considered dangerous due to the tragic death of famed Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, who was pierced in the chest with a shorttail stingray barb in 2006 while filming a documentary. Human deaths attributed to stingrays are less common than those due to bee stings.

As always, people seeing wildlife on the coast should use common sense and not touch or provoke them. Unless accompanied by a trained expert, this is the best way to protect people and animals.

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