While most of us would be terrified to jump into the water with either sharks or stingrays, this is the story of one woman who just can’t get enough of it. Yes, Rava Ray, 27, is a Tahitian model and designer who spends her days diving naked with dangerous marine creatures. And, not surprisingly, her stunning underwater photographs have turned her into an Instagram sensation.
Ray originally hails from Kentucky, but she spent her childhood on the beautiful Tahitian island of Mo’orea. Surrounded by the ocean, then, Ray had little choice but to make it an intrinsic part of her life. And it was here, on this tiny South Pacific isle, that Ray began to learn to swim alongside the local sea life. Not just smaller marine creatures like dolphins and turtles, either. No, we’re talking bigger ones such as sharks and whales, too.
As an adult, Ray later settled on another island, Hawaii’s O’ahu. But, before that, this true woman of the world and natural explorer led a nomadic life. In fact, Ray – who claims she can hold her breath underwater for almost two minutes – spent eight years in France and later made China her home for a year.
Utilizing her skills, Ray even worked temporarily as a dive master in Costa Rica, sharing her knowledge with others. The beauty finally returned to study economics at the University of Hawaii, but upon graduating, this multitalented model swapped sums for the sea once more. And it was by the ocean that she discovered another new passion: art.
Harnessing shells and other materials, the natural beauty used them to create her own jewelry and necklaces. The pieces feature on her Instagram account, which has amassed over 68,000 followers. And the budding designer has even got the seal of approval from British Vogue, after her exquisitely colorful and exotic creations were printed in the magazine.
But although she’s an island girl at heart, Ray has temporarily exchanged her quiet life for the bright lights. In fact, she’s currently pursuing her design dreams, studying at a New York City college. But it’s back home in Hawaii where some people believe she may have found her true calling: swimming with stingrays.
After becoming familiar with underwater photography, Ray began exploring taking pictures of herself – often naked – with potentially dangerous sea creatures. And it’s the stingray that, she told the Daily Mail, she holds “dearest to her heart.” Indeed, stunning Instagram shots of her with the creatures have shocked and delighted her growing fanbase in equal measure.
And, as you’ll agree, her underwater images are truly mesmerizing. Featuring the crystal clear waters of exotic Hawaii, the snaps paint a true tropical paradise. But it’s Ray’s carefree connection with nature – and the stingrays in particular – that has caused some fans to fear for her life. Indeed, some have even left negative comments on her Instagram.
However, this “Stingray Queen” is so secure around the sea animals that she literally gets to grips with them. Both hugging and kissing the potential killers, she shows no fear about potential attacks from them or other animals. In fact, in some of her images you can even see sharks swimming along in the background.
Exuding a natural confidence around the animals, Ray insists that they’d never attack her – because she is “their leader.” Likewise, she doesn’t believe it’s a sea animal’s first instinct to lash out at a human. In fact, she told the Daily Mail, “I don’t think I’ve ever posed a threat to an animal or been in a situation where I would have been attacked.”
However, the model and creative designer has admitted that a stingray once had a little nibble on her. She believes the bite was a “total accident,” though, and puts the episode down to the animal’s curiosity. As she explained to the Daily Mail, “I’ve never been attacked by their barb. When you’re swimming around, wild animals sometimes aren’t sure how to interact.”
Sadly, some people aren’t so lucky. For instance, world renowned “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin was once just as confident interacting with these sea creatures. However, Irwin was tragically killed in a horrific accident in 2006. Yes, a stingray turned on the animal lover, jabbing its venomous barbed tail at him repeatedly.
A stingray’s tail contains many barbs, and if they feel like they’re under attack, they will use it to protect themselves. Moreover, if one ever were to become suddenly aggressive, Ray has admitted that she has no safety procedures in place. Thankfully, though, the island of O’ahu does have its own hospital in case of a potential emergency.
Mind you, perhaps Ray’s penchant for swimming completely nude puts the stingrays at ease. Indeed, as she bares all to be as natural as possible, she believes there’s something ageless about going au natural in the water. Additionally, she removes her swimwear so as to not promote certain brands in these images. Her Instagram does, however, often mention the labels of the swimwear that she does promote in other shots.
And while most of her social media feed is filled with bikini-clad pics, the naked shots are gracefully captured. For Ray, this is essential. Because although she would love to always swim naked, that’s not possible. She told the Daily Mail, “In my perfect world, I would dive nude every time, but it takes a special type of photographer to capture it in a way I find tasteful.”
Indeed, when Ray is featured within an image, it’s clear that she cannot take these shots herself. Instead, she employs just three photographers, and this privileged trio work to document her incredible underwater moments.
However, although these fantastic images offer Ray’s followers an insight into the wonders of the ocean, they don’t always represent the complete underwater atmosphere. As she explained to the Daily Mail, “With whales in particular, there are things the pictures can’t capture – like what they sound like and what they move like.”
Not that you’ll hear any of her followers complaining. After all, each of her pictures receives thousands of likes and comments. And Ray herself encourages people to connect with her through Instagram, ask questions, share artwork or simply leave her a message. What’s more, her community seem to adore her personality as much as her breathtaking images.
Ray hopes, too, that by sharing her story she can change perspectives on stingrays and other sea animals. She wants to spread the message that we as humans should not be afraid of them. In fact, she actually encourages others to get back to nature and try to interact with the animals.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Ray said, “If I could help [the public] change their perspective, I’d tell them to go experience the creatures themselves instead of relying on the things they’ve heard or seen in the movies.” And looking at these truly beautiful images, that’s definitely something many of us would gladly try out.