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Man tells painful tale of ray’s shock

By Amanda Cedrone
Globe Correspondent / August 18, 2011

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A Bolton man says he was shocked by an electric ray while diving for lobster along the North Shore during the weekend.

Michael Murray, 45, was off Emerson Point in Rockport on Saturday, about 40 feet underwater, when he encountered a 3-foot-long torpedo ray - a creature with which he is familiar. He stopped to admire it before spotting a lobster nearby. Forgetting about the ray, Murray went for the lobster.

“I dropped on the [sea floor] to get the lobster and dropped on the ray,’’ Murray said.

At that point, Murray felt extreme pain in his left leg. “The shocking sensation was the feeling of my entire left calf being in the mouth of a large predator,’’ he said. “I expected to turn around and see a large white smile.’’

The ray eventually swam away, and other than being a little stunned, Murray was unharmed. He made his way back to his boat, where his two diving buddies were waiting.

“It was a very dumb action on my part and a scary five seconds as a result,’’ Murray said.

The torpedo ray is fairly common in local waters, said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium, and is normally found in depths of 20 feet or more.

LaCasse and Murray were quick to point out that it was not an animal attack, but that Murray simply got too close. Should divers spot a ray, they should keep a distance of about 6 feet.

Adult torpedo rays have organs on their backs that discharge electricity - anywhere from 80 to 200 volts at a time.

Amanda Cedrone can be reached at ACedrone@globe.com.