Anyway I discussed the eagle ray incident with the instructor and he agreed with me, while eagle rays are known to "leap" (is it to remove parasites or chasing a food source?); anyway they are known to leap but he agreed with me that it was very likely a great hammerhead was on that ray - and probably a big one.......!
I dive almost every day and frequently see Spotted Eaglerays. First off, you should always state what type of eagleray you are referring to as there are many species. The eagleray that killed the unfortunate woman is a Spotted Eagleray, the largest of the stingrays.
The Spotted Eagleray's leaping behavior is not typically related to chasing food. Their diet consists of clams, scallops and other mollusks as well as the occasional octopus, shrimp or squid. Sometimes sea urchins or bony fish like hinds will make the menu. Recently I videotaped a Spotted Eagleray feasting on mollusks attached to Black Mangrove tree roots in a shallow Mangrove Lagoon.
When I have observed them jumping it has been related to mating and birthing behavior. Females may jump to avoid attention from unwanted males and also probably to assist in labor as the impact with the waters surface may help dislodge their pups. Spotted Eaglerays have two mating cycles per year. In my region of the Caribbean (Virgin Islands) this is often in the Spring and Fall. Their gestation cycle is 8 to 9 months. I have witnessed them giving live birth in a Mangrove Lagoon. I suspect that habitat was chosen because the low to zero visibility foils the hunting behavior of the Silvertip and Hammerhead sharks as well as being an untenable brackish environment for them. These sharks will follow adult females in the ocean to gobble up their young immediately following birth. An adult Spotted Eagleray is a fight; the young are easier victims.
Still, little is known scientifically about these magnificent creatures. There are three distinct color variations in bark blue, black and brown. Some have black dots in the center of their white spots. Future genome typing and analysis may indeed see the Spotted Eagleray divided into more than one species
VIDEO OF A SPOTTED EAGLERAY FEEDING UPON MOLLUSKS ATTACHED TO ROCKS IN A TROPICAL MANGROVE LAGOON