We hear about whales and sharks all the time, but some other marine megafauna tend to slip under the radar. Oceanic manta rays, for example, are easy to overlook as languid filter feeders that spend most of their lives far offshore. Kayak angler and YouTuber Nick Anderson and his friends recently stumbled across a school of these impressive fish in the waters off Corpus Christi. His footage of the fun encounter was enough to land on the local news.
“Manta rays! Never thought I’d ever see them.”
Anderson and his friends spent their Saturday kayak fishing for snapper about two miles offshore of the Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. They spotted a large ray at the water’s surface as they paddled back in, and “as we got closer we were surrounded by them.” The group counted four or five individuals with a wingspan of 10+ feet, but amazingly oceanic manta rays can reach up to 29 feet in diameter.
During the encounter, Anderson does the humane thing and reels in his line to avoid accidentally hooking a ray. His friend jokingly asks if he has ridden one, but Anderson doesn’t take the bait. “Heck no, I ain’t riding it,” he says. “That thing’s massive, dude!”
Anderson’s footage was unusual enough to make the local KRIS-TV newscast, including a short clip introduced by the anchor as “some video you have to see.”
Oceanic Manta Rays are a Threatened Species
Unlike stingrays, manta rays pose no danger to people. They are highly threatened by commercial fishing and other human activities. Anderson’s friends suggest that it might be fun to fish for them, but the slow-moving creatures subsist on plankton. Manta rays have been hunted for food and reputed medicinal properties, but it’s much better to simply “watch and appreciate their beauty,” as the newscast describes.