Recently, a Florida photographer went to the beach to relax and snap some fantastic shots of the local surfers. However, when he took a closer look at the photos, he noticed something strange: a giant manta ray had managed to become the perfect photobomber!
Giant Manta Ray Surprise
Hobbyist photographer Rusty Escandell loves visiting the beach with his family and friends. Last week, like always, he decided to bring along his camera and capture a few shots of the waves, surfers, and blue skies near Officers Club Beach at Patrick Space Force Base. As Escandell did, something in the distance, behind a surfer, caught his attention. He snapped a few shots and thought nothing more of it. It looked like a splash or reflection, nothing special. Boy, was he wrong! A giant manta ray had jumped out of the water behind the surfer!
“I kind of saw a splash behind the surfer, but didn’t think much of it,” Escandell said. “It could have been a fish, could have been anything…It was pretty amazing.” It’s even more amazing when you consider he’s not a professional photographer. Escandell fixes cars for a living. His daughter and her boyfriend, on the other hand, are actually marine biologists. That’s right! The couple says the photo has inspired them to keep a closer eye on the waves. After the incident, they’ve noticed a lot more manta rays in the area! And that’s just the beginning of this incredible tale…
Soon enough, the picture went viral online. As a result, later, Escandell also got to meet the surfer from the photo. He’s also been able to share his message with the world: “go out, live life and see nature,” Escandell said. It’s the only way you can see things like the giant manta ray, which can grow up to 29 feet. Thankfully, they are no danger to humans. In fact, it’s the other way around. They are current listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. “Their populations are declining worldwide,” Jessica Pate, a senior scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, said.
Currently, Pate is trying to find out why adult giant manta rays aggregate off of central and north Florida in the spring. While conducting an aerial survey of the area between Sebastian and Daytona Beach, the scientist noticed 64 of the species in total. “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. The scientists still don’t know why a giant manta ray jumps out of the water, but you can see why the photo interested her!
Why would a ray jump out of the water? Well, Pate says it could mean that the manta ray is ready to mate, or it’s trying to get rid of parasites on the body. Others think that giant manta rays might even communicate with splashing. Whatever the reason, it made for a great photo!