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Diver Shocked By Torpedo Ray Off Rockport

BOLTON (CBS) - Lawyer Mike Murray is proud of his tattered wetsuit after almost two decades of diving, but admits the decision he made while hunting lobsters with some comrades on Saturday wasn't smart.

"They decided there weren't enough lobsters," says the Bolton resident, "so I went out and did a second dive by myself. Mistake number one."

He was some 500 feet off Emerson Point in Rockport at a depth of about 40 feet, when he spotted a good-sized Atlantic Torpedo Ray partially buried on the sandy bottom.

"And I swam over it," Murray says. "With God as my witness, I did not touch the ray, even though I was very interested in it."

WBZ-TV's Ken MacLeod reports

That's because Mike knew the normally docile ray can deliver a 220 volt shock -- twice the juice in your home's wall socket -- and enough to knock a diver unconscious.

But then, Mike spotted a lobster.

"I turned to grab the lobster and went down on the ray -- basically laid down on it," says Murray. "It was just foolish."

At first, Mike was sure that a shark was chomping on his left leg.

"When I turned over, I was literally looking for a large, white, sharp smile," he says, "And I was terrified for about five seconds."

But as the ray fluttered past him and swam away, Mike quickly gathered his wits and returned to shore.

Experts at the New England Aquarium say he's lucky to see such a cool creature, and lucky the electric encounter didn't end tragically.

They're not aggressive, but they won't back away from divers either," says Assistant Curator Dan Laughlin. "So it makes sense to stay back several feet. You certainly shouldn't swim up and touch it -- I wouldn't do it."

Torpedo Rays don't bite and don't have a barbed tail. They normally use their electric nodes on their backs to incapacitate prey so they can eat it.

Swimmers rarely encounter them because they prefer water that's at least 20 feet deep.

"It was my mistake," offers Murray. "It's his ocean. I was a guest in his ocean, and on that day I was a very poor guest. It won't happen again."

Adding insult to injury, the lobster Mike grabbed that wound up putting him in harm's way -- was too small to keep.

"It was all very foolish on my part," he says shaking his head.

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