Giant manta ray spotted near St. Petersburg

The giant manta ray is the largest ray in the world -- and one of them was spotted just 50 feet away from the shores of St. Petersburg.

Michael McCarty, with the See Through Canoe Company, spotted the giant manta ray Tuesday near St. Pete and captured video showing the marine animal gliding along the surface.

McCarty said it was the first time he has since one near St. Petersburg.

"Even though I spend a lot of time on the water, this is the first manta ray I've seen here in the St Pete area," he told FOX 13. "I've seen them in other parts of Florida, but never so close to shore."

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According to NOAA, manta rays can reach a wingspan of 29 feet, and have been found worldwide, both in oceanic waters and within bays and intercoastal waterways. Experts said they have been seen in waters with temperatures as low as 66.2 degrees and as high as 86 degrees.