By Luke Johnston 

Stunning shots of one of nature’s most vulnerable sea creatures show a school of around 100 rays swimming close to the surface.

Ben Horton, 34, from Los Angeles, CA, USA, is a photographer and explorer for National Geographic who snapped the rays on an underwater adventure.

Pic from Caters News / Ben Horton

Ben took the series of photos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico last month including his favourite image of friend Lily amongst them.

Ben said: “I often go to Cabo to take underwater and adventure images since there is such great access to pelagic sea life, great surf, and remote desert locations.

Pic from Caters News / Ben Horton

“Some of them were taken with a drone since I was on shore when I first saw the rays and had no way to get out to where I was seeing the rays jumping.

“Then, the next day, I went out with my friend Oscar Ortiz who runs a dive company called Cabo Expeditions on his dive boat, and we jumped in the water with a school of the mobula rays.

Pic from Caters News / Ben Horton

“They were in motion, so they were hard to keep up with, so we didn’t use tanks in order to swim quickly with them.

Pic from Caters News / Ben Horton

“The school would rise up to the surface and then dive down for a while, so tracking them wasn’t easy.

Pic from Caters News / Ben Horton

“These images show a school of mobula rays.  They are closely related to manta rays and are often confused with them, but are smaller in size and have mouths that can open and close.

“They are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, so it was an incredible opportunity to photograph them.”