BOYNTON BEACH, FL -- Instead of schools of sharks, a much less menacing creature of the sea was spotted off the South Florida coast Monday morning.
About 50 feet from the Boynton Beach shore a big manta ray could be seen swimming in the surf.
It appeared to be having breakfast -- or trying to have breakfast -- from the looks of its wide-open mouth.
The manta appeared to have at least a 6-foot wing span.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, a full-grown male manta can have a wing span of 13 feet, while females mature at a width of 16.5 feet. They are filter feeders but occasionally eat smaller fish and are a minimal threat to humans. In fact, they often approach divers.
The manta ray was once harvested commercially off Australia and California waters for its liver oil and for its skin. Today it is rarely hunted, although meat from the manta ray is considered a delicacy in the Philippines.
In the past few weeks several schools of migrating sharks have been seen off of the Florida coast.
A kiteboarder was attacked almost two weeks ago off a Stuart beach.
Sharks are one of the manta ray's biggest threats.
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