Scuba diver snaps a sensational selfie with a huge 'smiling' STINGRAY

A SCUBA diver snapped a sensational selfie with a huge 'smiling' STINGRAY.

Cassie Jensen, 31, captured the 'once-in-a-lifetime' moment during a diving trip in Mo'orea – an island in the French Polynesia.

Although stingrays are usually found lurking on the bottom of the ocean floor and have barbed tails which can be deadly to humans, Cassie found this one determined to breach the water and play.

"She posed for me for a few seconds, she was flapping her 'wings' to try and stay out of the water," Cassie, of South Florida, said.

"I think she knew we were about to nail a selfie together."

"The moment I saw it, I cheered so loud out of pure happiness that we both posed perfectly and I had been able to get the waterline straight, focus above and below the water line, and we both had a happy face on."

"I hadn’t been so excited about an image in a long time."

"I was definitely surprised – it is uncommon for stingrays to go out of the water like that. Some species breach out of the water, but not typically this kind – they usually hang out in the water column or look for food on the bottom of the seafloor."

"She was a bundle of energy and could sense I wanted to get a perfect split shot selfie."

"Usually stingrays are bottom dwellers, meaning they find food along the sandy bottom of the seafloor, so it was awesome to see her launch out of the water. You don’t see that behavior often."

Cassie, who is an Underwater Photographer, Expedition Leader and Equestrian Show Jumping Groom said stingrays in the area are friendly with humans due to them often being fed small tidbits.

According to Cassie, the wild stingrays are used to humans and come swimming over – pushing themselves up out of the water in search for food – as soon as they hear a boat pull up

Although not all stingrays are quite as friendly, with one killing Australian zookeeper and wildlife expert, Steve Irwin, in 2006.

Cassie added: 'All wild and domesticated animals can be dangerous. Stingrays have a defense mechanism in their barbed tail, but they usually only use it when they are under extreme stress, or if they feel they are being threatened."

"Of course we need to respect wildlife and all animals at all times, as anything can happen at any time."

"It is important to constantly be aware of these risks, your behaviour in the water, aware of the animals’ behaviour, and other external and internal factors that can cause stress to the animals we interact with."

"I always say we need to remember to always “expect the unexpected” – after all, the ocean is their home, not ours. We are just visitors.

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Cassie gave the stingray a piece after she plopped back into the waterCredit: Caters News Agency

"A split shot is the hardest image to master, so I honestly just got lucky with it, perfect timing and the perfect waterline, and focus – it takes a lot of practice to get images like that but it also takes a little luck"

"After she came up out of the water like that, I wasn’t sure if I nailed it. Split shots are so difficult to capture correctly and there are a lot of factors that have to work to make it happen."

"After she plopped back into the water, I gave her a small piece of dead fish to thank her for posing with me and checked the LCD of my camera."

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