Watch: Giant Oceanic Manta Ray spotted near Trinidad rig
A video showing a Giant Oceanic Manta Ray swimming in the waters near an offshore rig in Trinidad has gone viral online.
The video, which was shared by Twitter user @summerjtelfer on Wednesday, had almost 2,000 retweets and over 5,000 likes.
The creature's huge size was magnified by the presence of another fish which some suggested might have been a shark or a remora, spotted swimming next to it.
Many prayed however that the creature would not be harmed.
Jay Bourassa: "It's just beautiful I love it just no one kill it it's doing no harm to anyone."
ShellyAnn Williams: "Beautiful."
@SubtleGreatness: "Love Manta Rays"
@SexBookGanza: "That’s an amazing manta ray."
Kevin Jackson: "Wow, amazed (that) majestic creatures like this still exist."
Amber Depp: "So cool."
About Manta Rays
The giant oceanic manta ray (Mobula birostris) is the largest type of ray in the world, with a wing span of up to 29 feet.
They are circumglobal and are typically found in tropical and subtropical waters, but can also be found in temperate waters.
Until 2017, giant mantas were classified in the genus Manta, along with the smaller reef manta (Mobula alfredi). DNA testing revealed that both species are more closely related to rays of the genus Mobula than previously thought.
As a result, giant mantas were renamed 'Mobula birostris' to reflect the new classification.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the main threat to the giant manta ray is commercial fishing, with the species both targeted and caught as bycatch in a number of global fisheries throughout its range.
“Manta” means blanket or cloak in Spanish, describing the look of the animals’ large, flat, diamond-shaped bodies, which are characterized by triangular pectoral fins. Manta rays have two horn-shaped fins protruding from the front of their heads, which has also given them the nickname “devil fish.”
Manta rays eat krill and plankton and have been known to make regular visits to cleaning stations - spots on a coral reef where sea animals go to be cleaned by smaller creatures - where they stay still for several minutes while cleaner fish remove parasites and dead skin.
Many individual manta rays return to the same stations over and over.