When Freckles, the manta ray approached divers Jake Wilton and Monty Halls, they were shocked to see hooks embedded in his right eye.
More surprisingly, she stopped near them, seeming to ask for help.
Jake dived several times, swimming closely each time and removing the hooks from his skin. Freckles were patiently waiting for him to finish.
Since then, Jake has checked on Freckles and told BBC News that she's fine, and maybe even recognized him.
"I went down to dive [to check up on her] and she stopped about 30 seconds above me. It was rather wild, he said. They have self-awareness and can recognize individual manta rays, so she could have recognized me.
Freckles – so named because of a unique freckle pattern on the belly – would be around 30 years old, making it a venerable old lady over the years of the manta ray.
Jake says it's likely that she has shaved the bottom of the sea to pick up plankton when thrown hooks, used in recreational fishing, got caught in her eye.
This is a common problem in Coral Bay, he adds, although he adds, "This is the first time we have one that approaches us and tries to [the hooks] outside".
"Everything is purely accidental, but most of the reefs in the bay are areas where manta rays go to be cleaned by the little napoleon [fish], to keep them healthy, "he explains. People fish in these cleaning stations, and then accidentally snag manta rays. "
Ships are another great danger to manta rays in the area – most injuries that divers see are caused by boat propellers.
Jake says he and his colleagues are trying to push for protective areas on the reef, "to at least give [the manta rays] safe places ".
"All residential manta rays, which were already established here before tourism, are reaching the end of their lives," he said.
"So, the biggest worry is, when these guys go, will the new manta rays coming in … will they call this place home or will they come here and think," Oh, this is very good place to be cleaned, there are too many boats, too many tourists? "
Manta rays are not dangerous – in fact, they are generally considered to be gentle giants of the sea. Jake adds that they are extremely intelligent and that they keep excellent memories.
"During their lifetime, they will visit certain areas at certain times of the year, remember those places and maintain relationships with other manta rays," he says.
"That's why it's so important to protect these areas because they have to go back there."