A giant manta ray has photobombed a surfer by leaping out of the water when a photographer was taking pictures of surfers from a Florida beach.
The amazing shot was captured by a lucky photographer who was spending the day with family and friends at a beach near Officers’ Club Beach at Patrick Space Force Base.
Interestingly, he did not realise about the accidental appearance of the manta ray in the photo until he got home.
Rusty Escandell said he took the photograph on Sunday and later he saw a splash behind the surfer, but he did not think much of it. Escandell said that he thought that it could have been a fish or anything else.
After reviewing a burst of photos, he detected the ray leaping out of water. He said, ‘It was pretty amazing.”
He said that his daughter and her boyfriend are both marine biologists and said they’d seen some manta rays in the water after he took the photo.
Escandell owns an auto repair shop and lives in nearby Satellite Beach, and says he enjoys taking pictures at the beach fairly regularly, 7 News reported.
He didn’t know the surfer in the photo, but they’ve talked since the photo went viral. “He’s excited too,” Escandell said.
Giant manta rays are the world’s largest rays and can grow to a wingspan of up to 29 feet (8.8m). The slow-swimming, migratory fish are listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act and as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
“Their populations are declining worldwide,” said Jessica Pate, a senior scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation.
Pate said about 50 people had sent her Escandell’s photo over the last few days. She’s just started studying why adult manta rays congregate off of central and north Florida in the spring.
On Sunday, she spotted 64 adult giant manta rays while conducting an aerial survey of the area between Sebastian and Daytona Beach – which includes Satellite Beach.
“I’m not sure exactly what’s driving this large aggregation. It could be for mating, it could be for feeding, it could be for both. But that’s what we’re going to conduct a study to figure out,” Pate said.
She said it’s also not known why giant manta rays breach, or jump out of the water, it could be a mating ritual, they could be trying to dislodge parasites, or it could be a way of communicating because it makes a loud sound.