A Tahitian model who dives naked with dangerous marine creatures to create stunning photographs said she holds the venomous stingray ‘dearest to her heart’.
Rava Ray, also known as the ‘Stingray Queen,’ grew up on the small South Pacific Island Mo’orea and learnt to ‘share the water’ with sharks, whales, turtles and dolphins.
The 27-year-old said she was left completely ‘starstruck’ after diving with a tiger shark for the first time and urges those who fear marine creatures to get up close themselves.
‘If I could help them change their perspective, I’d tell them to go experience the creatures themselves instead of relying on the things they’ve heard or seen in the movies,’ she said.
After she learnt to dive and became familiar with underwater photography, Ms Ray’s family moved to Hawaii and she started swimming with turtles, sharks and dolphins.
She said she has never felt anxious being close dangerous marine creatures and does not believe it is an animal’s first instinct to attack a person.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever posed a threat to an animal or been in a situation where I would have been attacked,’ she said.
Ms Ray admitted she has been bitten by a stingray in the past, but said it was a ‘total accident’.
‘I’ve never been attacked by their barb,’ she said. ‘When you’re swimming around wild animals sometimes aren’t sure how to interact’. It’s the same as the way we might accidentally scratch them with our fingernail’.
Ms Ray said there are only three photographers she trusts to capture the ‘magic’ of her swimming naked with the stingrays.