Mesmerising 'once in a lifetime encounter' of cownose rays captured by prize-winning photographer

This was the amazing moment a prize-winning underwater photographer captured a fever of cownose rays swimming together off the coast of Western Australia.

Filmed on April 14, 2019, the footage shows the aquatic beings swirling around in an almost hypnotic manner in the Ningaloo Reef.

The footage appears to be edited with a black and white effect but has only been affected by natural light as the freediving photographer was only six metres from the surface.

A still image from the same event won snapper Alex Kydd a prize in the Australian Photography Awards.

Kydd told Newsflare: "[It was] a rare encounter with a fever of cownose rays on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

"The images were taken whilst freediving to approximately six metres and using natural light.

"The rays were circling and rubbing together in a behaviour that is still not clearly understood.

"It may have been possible mating or social behaviour.

"The rays were spiralling up and down the water column from the surface to 20 metres for approximately 20 minutes until they were not seen again.

"Undeterred by my presence, they continued to focus on each whilst I documented the encounter.

"There have been few reports of cownose rays in the Ningaloo Reef region and over the last four years working there, I had never seen them.

"The species of ray cannot be accurately identified, it is either Rhinoptera Javanica or Rhinoptera Neglecta.

"It was a once in a lifetime encounter."

Kydd also won first and third prize in the Australian Nature Conservancy Photography awards for his image of a whale shark and the cownose rays, respectively.

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