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  • - [Crew Member] Right here, right here, right here.

  • - [Coyote] I see it, I see it.

  • - [Crew Member] Oh, there he goes.

  • You got it, you got it.

  • - [Crew Member] You get him?

  • - I got it, I got it, I got it.

  • - [Crew Member] All right. - Yes!

  • - [Crew Member] Yes! - [Coyote] Whoa, whoa, whoa.

  • Hold on, he's trying to get out of the net.

  • (dramatic music)

  • (calm music)

  • - [Narrator] The coastline of Australia varies greatly

  • from region to region.

  • And along the Sunshine Coast,

  • you will find a plethora of rich,

  • mangrove-lined inlets known as estuaries.

  • An estuary is a partially enclosed body of brackish water,

  • which means that it is comprised

  • from both a fresh and salt water source.

  • These ecosystems are influenced

  • by the rising and falling of the tide

  • and are considered to be one of the most biodiverse

  • natural habitats in the world.

  • Today, we are exploring near the town of Maleny.

  • This beautiful stretch of rolling hills and coastal land

  • is the perfect backdrop for an episode of Beyond the Tide.

  • - All right guys, well this is going to be our first

  • Beyond the Tide episode here in Australia.

  • And our target species is the stingray.

  • As you can see right here, I have a big, sturdy net.

  • I'm gonna need this if I wanna catch one of these creatures

  • and get it up close for the cameras.

  • We're at low tide right now,

  • so there's a good chance we're gonna come across one.

  • Now, I'll be looking for shadows in the water,

  • and I want you guys to do the exact same thing.

  • If you see something moving, let me know.

  • We're gonna hopefully be able to catch it.

  • - Quick question. - Yeah.

  • - I've heard that walking in water like this

  • is kinda dangerous when there's stingrays around.

  • How do you do that?

  • - Ah, yes, the key movement today

  • is going to be shuffling our feet.

  • So watch this.

  • You wanna kinda be moving like this.

  • And the reason for that

  • is that the rays will oftentimes bury themselves down

  • in the sandy silt.

  • You don't wanna step straight down on top

  • of one of those barbs.

  • It will go right through your foot.

  • So by shuffling your feet, if you kick a ray,

  • you'll scare it, and it will take off.

  • And you'll avoid getting stung.

  • All right, guys, so everybody just drag your feet today

  • when we're walking.

  • Sound good?

  • - [Crew Member] Sounds good to me.

  • - All right, let's head this direction, going with the wind.

  • - [Narrator] Brackish water tends to be incredibly cloudy,

  • as tidal movement causes sediment on the estuary basin

  • to be in constant turmoil.

  • This environmental challenge made spotting animals

  • incredibly difficult.

  • (suspenseful music)

  • - The water's actually a little clearer in this area.

  • You can see the wind has actually kinda died down.

  • We've got a little bit more plant coverage

  • that's blocking the wind.

  • Let's slowly venture out into this direction.

  • Let me lead.

  • I'll let you know if I see anything.

  • And remember, continue to drag your feet,

  • because if I walk past something and don't disturb it,

  • there's a chance you could step right on top

  • of one of those barbs.

  • So drag those feet, guys.

  • - [Crew Member] All right, let's do it.

  • - [Narrator] As we continued inward

  • toward an exposed sandbar,

  • the tides of luck began to turn.

  • And there before us, the shadow of a stingray

  • began to materialize beneath the surface.

  • - [Crew Member] Got it?

  • - I do not.

  • - [Crew Member] Ah.

  • - Ah.

  • - [Crew Member] Shoot, that was close.

  • - That was close, though.

  • I think I got just on top of it.

  • I could feel it pulling.

  • Actually, it was so big, it might not fit in the net.

  • But that was our good first shot at it.

  • We definitely are seeing rays now.

  • It's just a matter of actually being able

  • to scoop one up in the net.

  • And I think that's the play.

  • Once I get close to it and it starts to move,

  • I need to sort of explode into action

  • and try to scoop it.

  • And what I'm trying to do is get the net

  • in front of its nose and then pull backwards.

  • Okay, well, we're getting close.

  • - [Crew Member] All right, good first shot.

  • - Keep looking.

  • - [Crew Member] Right here, right here, right here.

  • - I see it, I see it.

  • - [Crew Member] Get him.

  • - [Crew Member] Oh, there he goes.

  • - [Crew Member] Oh, he's right here, he's right here

  • in front of me.

  • He's right here.

  • Dude, he's right here.

  • Look at him, look at him.

  • - [Crew Member] There you go, he's booking.

  • See his wake, see his wake?

  • - [Coyote] Yeah.

  • - Put these sunglasses on.

  • Put these sunglasses on.

  • You need to see him.

  • Put that on.

  • - He's right here. - Right there, right there.

  • Right there, in front of him.

  • In front of him, you got it, you got it.

  • - [Crew Member] He started back, get ready.

  • - [Crew Member] Don't let him get out.

  • Stick to the open.

  • - [Crew Member] Did you get him?

  • - I got it, I got it, I got it.

  • - All right. - Yes!

  • - Yes! - Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on.

  • It's trying to get out of the net.

  • Whew, all right!

  • Good spotting, guys.

  • When Mario handed off his polarizing sunglasses to me

  • right in the middle of that,

  • changed the game immediately,

  • and I was able to see it so much better.

  • - [Crew Member] Look at the spots, that's awesome.

  • - All right guys, we have to be really careful here.

  • I'm trying to determine where its barb is.

  • I see it, right on the back of the tail there.

  • Okay, it appears that this is a Maskray.

  • And let me do this.

  • You see those eyes up front there?

  • Wow! So bizarre looking.

  • All right, guys,

  • so that we can get this ray up close for the cameras,

  • it's gonna be very hard for me to handle this,

  • also dangerous because of the venomous barb.

  • But there's a little pocket of water up here.

  • Let's place it in that pocket,

  • and we'll be able

  • to observe it in the water

  • and in a situation that we can keep control.

  • Are you ready? - [Crew Member] Yep.

  • - I'm gonna quickly move it up here.

  • All right, let's get it into this pocket of water here.

  • Let me check the temperature first.

  • Yeah, this is plenty cool.

  • This is perfect.

  • Okay, I'm gonna let it gently sorta swim out here.

  • - That's a great ray, man.

  • - It really is.

  • Look at the eyeballs.

  • They look just like the eyes of a crocodile

  • positioned on top of its head there.

  • Now some species of rays have very wide-set eyes.

  • They don't have the best eyesight.

  • And similar to sharks, they have sensory organs

  • on the front of their noses

  • that allow them to sense for their prey.

  • Now this species, I could tell you this much,

  • I actually have my finger in its mouth right now.

  • It doesn't have teeth.

  • It just has these flat plates

  • that he uses to grab onto its food and grind it up.

  • Now some species of rays do in fact have teeth.

  • You could see him constantly trying to move here,

  • because it is capable of spinning its tail around.

  • And what I don't wanna take

  • is the sting from that barbed tail.

  • Let me turn it like this.

  • And while I'm talking about what it eats,

  • it eats small crustaceans, little fish, mollusks.

  • They're pretty opportunistic.

  • A ray of this size would even take something

  • like a small octopus.

  • But I know what you guys are really interested in

  • is that tail.

  • And look at that, this one has two venomous spines.

  • Those are modified dermal dendrites,

  • basically like scales growing out of this creature's body.

  • It does have a very narrow row of them

  • down the middle of the spine, and there at the tail,

  • double stinger.

  • Now, that stinger is laced with venom.

  • And similar to a lionfish,

  • they actually have a membrane-like sheath over the stinger.

  • And when it inserts into something

  • that's trying to attack it,

  • that sheath sort of peels away,

  • and the venom is then leaked into whatever it is

  • that's being stung.

  • Now they do not use their stingers at all

  • for catching their food.

  • They're strictly used as a defense mechanism.

  • And as you can see,

  • it's kind of flicking its tail around there.

  • I'm just trying to keep my fingers away from that tail.

  • Now some ray species have two stingers like this one.

  • Many only have a single stinger.

  • In some species, stingers can grow up to a foot in length.

  • I tell you what you don't want to happen,

  • a foot-long stinger going through your arm.

  • Let me see if I can just slowly lift you up there

  • a little bit, buddy.

  • Now the gills of this creature are actually

  • on the underside of its body.

  • And what I'm gonna do now is try to lift it up

  • by just holding on to the base of the tail.

  • Nope, I don't think I'm gonna be able to do that,

  • because the tail of this species is short.

  • Let me give that one more try though.

  • I can hold on to these air holes

  • and the back of its tail like this.

  • I'm trying not to take a sting.

  • This doesn't hurt it in any way whatsoever.

  • Look at the underside there.

  • See if you can see those gills.

  • Do you see the gills under there?

  • - [Crew Member] Yep, hold it there.

  • I can see the mouth working too.

  • - There you go, buddy.

  • And that's about as much as I want to try

  • to actually handle this animal.

  • As you can see, it's breathing

  • by passing water over its gills.

  • You see these two air vents right here?

  • The water comes in through the mouth, pass the gills,

  • and then out through these little orifices right there.

  • Similar to an octopus,

  • the way that an octopus can shoot water

  • out of those little valves on the side of its body,

  • this guy is also capable of shooting water off to the sides.

  • - [Crew Member] So he's breathing just fine right now.

  • - Oh, yeah, he's completely fine.

  • And like I said,

  • I wanna try to handle it as little as possible.

  • Now because we know that rays are related to sharks,

  • you may be asking yourself,

  • "Well, Coyote, does its skin feel just like a shark?

  • "Is it scratchy like sandpaper?"

  • I honestly thought that this ray would be scratchy,

  • but it's not.

  • It's incredibly smooth and has a gelatinous membrane

  • covering its skin.