Giant Manta Ray Stuns Onlookers off Alabama Coast
"This truly was an amazing experience and I am a better man for it."
Boaters off the coast of Orange Beach, Alabama, were treated to a special sight over the weekend.
Robert Agren told Newsweek that he was fishing for red snapper with his family when he saw a giant manta ray just below the surface of the water. Fortunately, Agren was able to snap a photo (below) of the rare creature which was shared by Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Facebook.
"This is definitely out of the norm from what we have experienced!" he told the Alabama-based research lab. "We had encountered gray whales with a baby pod of 100 or more of spotted dolphins at one time, but nothing like this! That's what makes the offshore experience so unpredictable!"
According to Dauphin Island Sea Lab, manta rays are the largest ray species in the world and can reach up to 30 feet across and weight over 3,000 pounds. Females are nearly 15 feet across by the time they reach maturity.
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Jay Files, who was out on a jet ski looking for dolphins that day, also reports coming across the impressive animal.
"The head and mouth area was about as wide as two footballs end to end," he recalled to Newsweek. "Not only were the two wingtips flashing out of the water, but the two tail wings were also visible and rising above the surface. This truly was an amazing experience and I am a better man for it."