‘Everything went to s**t’: Angry crowd hinders ray rescue
A crowd of onlookers has turned on a group of fisherman who accidentally caught a 2m stingray off Brighton Beach.
The fishermen, who were trying to remove the hook from the stingray, take a photo and drag it back out to sea, were spat on, threatened and abused.
Fisherman Ben Knighton, 23, and his friends were fishing off the end of the jetty when they hooked the stingray.
"I've caught a fair few stingrays in my time and I certainly wasn't down there fishing for one, but I have one rule that I live and die by and that is not to leave any hooks or tackle in the water," Mr Knighton told The Advertiser.
"With how big it was we ended making the decision to beach it, which is the safest option for fish and person involved.
"It took an hour and 20 minutes from the end of the jetty to the beach itself.
"In the end my line snapped and I threw the rod aside and jumped in with the two guys and dragged it in. Then everything just went to s**t."
Mr Knighton said a crowd had gathered on the beach to watch what the group was doing.
"During the whole experience I had people ask what was going on and I thoroughly told them the procedure for what was going to happen when we dragged him ashore, just so people wouldn't freak out," he said.
"I tried to have it as close to the jetty as possible, I had other guys out in the water circling it to keep people away.
"I briefed people as many times as I could but the reaction we were met with showed it went in one ear and out the other."
The experienced fisherman said the whole procedure should have lasted less than a minute if it hadn't been for people in the crowd abusing them.
"There were a few people who weren't too happy with scenario," Mr Knighton said.
"My mate jumped over me and started going mental at a woman who spat at me and snatched my rod.
"The reaction was so out of hand and didn't need to be that way. It should have taken 30 seconds, get him in, get the hook out and then send him on his way.
"A stingray's mouth is under them so there is no way to remove the hook in the water, if you do you get close to its barb and on a ray that size getting hit lands you in hospital."
After the stingray had swum back out to sea Mr Knighton and his friends continued to be abused and ended up collecting their gear and leaving for the day.
Primary Industries and Regions South Australia advises extreme caution when interacting with stingrays.
"While not considered to be aggressive, if handling is necessary, extreme caution should be maintained due to their ability to strike animals located in front of themselves in self-defence," the PIRSA website advises.