In a nightmarish scene straight out of an oceanic horror movie, the US Coast Guard came face to face with a monster in the waters off of Louisiana. The strange creature described as possessing a gaping maw with fins was bound straight for their 45-foot boat before suddenly disappearing underneath it.
Despite the moment of terror, the creature was revealed to be a manta ray as this excerpt from Facebook along with an accompanying video from the US Coast Guard explains: “Check out this giant curious creature the crew stumbled upon. I don’t know who was more shocked: The crew or the manta ray!”
Per reports, the incident happened on June 17 near the mouth of the Mississippi River which is also a popular feeding spot for Manta rays: "Manta rays are known to frequent the waters “75 to 115 miles off the coast of Texas and Louisiana. The average size is a 14-foot wingspan in the Gulf of Mexico, though giant manta rays can reach 30 feet, experts say."
Manta rays are not harmful to humans and yet they are often confused with the sting ray which possesses a dangerous venom. Part of the reason for this misassumption could be the movies that have depicted these gentle giants as something more sinister. In fact, some cultures revere them as sacred.
The diet of manta rays consists of plankton as explained by the Manta Ray Advocates: “This consists of copepods, mysid shrimp, crab larva, mollusk larvae and fish eggs. Think of an ‘alphabet soup’ of small and microscopic organisms of various kinds and species. Most of them can not or hardly be seen with the naked eye.”
Manta rays are being known to be relentlessly hunted for food as well as their hide.