A giant manta ray photobombed a surfer in Florida
Rusty Escandell told CNN that he took the photo on Sunday while spending the day with family and friends on a beach near Officers Club Beach in Patrick Space Force Base, but he didn’t notice it until he did came home.
“I saw a bit of splash behind the surfer but didn’t think about it much,” he said. “It could have been a fish, it could have been anything.”
Escandell had taken a number of photos of the jet breaking out of the water.
“It was pretty amazing,” he said.
His daughter and boyfriend are both marine biologists and said they saw some manta rays in the water after taking the picture, Escandell said.
Escandell owns an auto repair shop and lives in nearby Satellite Beach. He likes to take pictures on the beach pretty regularly.
He didn’t know the surfer in the photo, but they have spoken since the photo went viral.
“He’s excited too,” said Escandell.
Giant manta rays are the largest rays in the world and can reach a wingspan of up to 30 meters. The slowly swimming migratory fish are endangered under the US Endangered Species Act and classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. “Their populations are declining worldwide,” said Jessica Pate, a senior scientist with the Marine Megafauna Foundation.
Godfather told CNN that about 50 people have sent their Escandell photo in the past few days.
She has just started researching why adult manta rays tend to congregate off central and northern Florida in the spring.
On Sunday, she spotted 64 giant adult manta rays while doing an aerial view of the area between Sebastian and Daytona Beach – including Satellite Beach.
“I’m not sure what exactly is driving this large accumulation. It could be for mating, it could be for feeding, it could be for both. But that’s exactly what we’re going to do to find out,” said Godfather.
She said it was also not known why giant manta rays were breaking or jumping out of the water, it could be a mating ritual, they could be trying to drive away parasites, or it could be some form of communication because it makes a loud noise.