This photo is the eye ball of a Kuhl Stingray, it’s a very common Ray that we get here in Phuket, especially on a dive site called Kata Beach where we have an area we lovingly refer to as Sting Ray alley. This area can have up to 50 of these Rays all hidden in the sand but closely packed together for protection.
Usually when you approach these rays they will lift up out of the sand and scoot off, you have to be careful not to spook them if you are intending to get a good close up shot of them. You might also be thinking, well if there is 50 in one spot my odds of getting a good photo are good. This is actually not the case, spook one or two and the whole Shiver of rays will likely go with them, trust me, I’ve seen it happen, looks really cool watching Sting Rays fly off in every direction, but your photo op is goneski :)
If you are looking to get up close and personal with Sting Rays also, you need to be super careful of your hands and positioning. It’s a near certainty that if you find Kuhl in the sand resting, there will be another close by, and you certainly don’t want to land on top of them while trying to get a photo of his friend.
I’m told the stings by these guys are insanely painful, and likely very toxic, don’t risk it, check the area you intend to use closely and make sure no more are around if you are going to rest in the sand to get a photo.
Also, keep your hands well clear of their tails, personally when I’m this close to them they have the opportunity to hit my wrist or hands with their stinger, so I tend to position my hands on the inside of the camera rig, or I won’t have a hand on the rig at all closest to the tail, not worth the risk.
But if you do it right, Kuhl’s can make for really good subjects in your photos, the way they bury themselves in the sand I find is quite beautiful and I like to try to get shots of them as they swim off and their is motion in the shot of falling debris.
This is another shot I quite enjoy, getting photos of their eyeballs, they look truly devilish and keenly aware that you are there. Getting this shot before they spook and run away can at times be frustrating, but some days it pays off and you capture clear images of them being calm, looking back at you through the glass.