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Snorkellers have incredible close encounter with manta ray who 'asked them for help'

Incredible footage captures the moment a group of snorkellers encounter a giant manta ray and get up close to remove fish hooks from her eye.

The three-metre wide sea creature can be seen swimming up towards diver Jake Wilton, appearing to show him the three fish hooks embedded in her right eye.

He made a dozen dives down to remove the hooks with a pair of pliers. It's thought if the hooks had been left, the manta could have developed an infection or potentially blinded the animal.

The ray, who is locally called Freckles, was filmed on Ningaloo Reef in western Australia.

Manta rays can grow up to seven metres wide and live up to 50 years old. Credit: Seadog TV & Film Productions and Tourism Western Australia

The stunning footage shows Mr Wilton rising triumphantly from the water holding the hooks before Freckles swims away.

He said the manta ray was swimming towards them and showing them the deadly spikes.

"You could see she was trusting us, cause she was unrolling it and showing us the hooks.

"I went down again just one last time, just to say goodbye and she actually stopped," he said.

Jake helped save Freckles' life in western Australia. Credit: Seadog TV & Film Productions and Tourism Western Australia

British marine biologist Monty Halls said the manta knew what was happening.

He said: "Jake went down again and again - she never moved.

"I'm sure that manta knew that Jake was trying to get the hooks out."

Manta rays can grow up to seven metres wide and live up to 50 years old.

They are also thought to be some of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.

Unlike stingrays, they don’t have an external spike and are generally harmless to humans.