The photo shows a giant stingray approaching a surfer in Wildwood

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Close encounters with animals living in the ocean are far from uncommon on the Jersey Shore.

In the past few years we have had a collision between a whale and a fishing boat off Deal, Monmouth County, and a humpback whale just feet from a paddle board off Long Branch. Rescuers rescued a stranded dolphin in Sea Isle City and a so-called “dolphin whisperer” captured video from a pod off Stone Harbor. A 279-pound sea turtle has been rescued off Avalon.

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

This week we have a pretty awesome shot of a huge ray that surfaced just feet from a surfer off Wildwood. The photo is a little blurry, but in a way it almost enhances the reaction when your eyes lock on the surfer looking at the ray falling on his stomach.

Commenters on the Instagram post said the photo was taken earlier in June off Rambler Road beach. One reviewer said this type of experience is quite typical, as many stingray species tend to stay close to the surface of the water.

“Did this at Sandy Hook…stingrays love to swim with people,” commenter @sonicfeather wrote. “They actually seem to enjoy human company in the water.”

The Jersey Shore is home to a range of stingray and stingray species, including stingrays and stingrays, roughtail stingrays, bluntnose stingrays, snout stingrays and thorny butterfly rays . Cownose rays have also become common off the coast of New Jersey, where they tend to travel from the south during this time of year as the water is warmer. They are generally docile, but sometimes sting people, as happened to a fisherman off Harvey Cedars in 2018.

It’s unclear from Wildwood’s photo what type of stingray was next to the surfer, but it’s unlikely the person pictured was in serious danger. Most rays are not aggressive towards people unless directly provoked, and some research suggests they might even enjoy being touched by humans – although this is 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 spike while filming a documentary in 2006. Humans attributed to stingrays are less common than those resulting from bee stings.

As always, people who see wildlife on the shore should use common sense and avoid touching or provoking them. Unless accompanied by a qualified expert, this is the best way to ensure the safety of people and animals.

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