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    From: Mike A. LeButt
    Date: 1999 Feb 11, 6:54 PM

                           Thursday, February 11, 1999
                  Motorboat No Match for Manta Ray in Tug of War
                  From Reuters
                              NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla.--Two Florida boaters met a
                               real sea monster when their craft was dragged
    for hours by a
                          powerful creature that turned out to be a giant manta
    ray, the
                          Coast Guard said Wednesday.
                          Coast Guard Petty Officer Scott Barnes said the
    agency received a
                          radio distress call from a 16-foot boat that reported
    it was being
                          dragged by its anchor line by something unknown.
                          The Coast Guard sent a rescue boat to investigate and
    it found the
                          motorboat being dragged in circles by something
    beneath the
                          The crew transferred the anchor line to the Coast
    Guard vessel,
                          freeing the men in the motorboat, who had tried to
    use their
                          90-horsepower engine to go in reverse and stop
    themselves from
                          being dragged out to sea.
                          After the Coast Guard's 41-foot boat pulled on the
    anchor line for
                          several minutes, a giant manta ray, measuring an
    estimated 18 feet
                          in width, came to the surface.
                          The Coast Guard continued to try to pull the rope
    free, but the giant
                          wing-shaped creature eventually freed itself and swam
                          Barnes said.
                          He said the manta ray could have pulled the boat to
    the bottom if
                          the water had been deep enough for it to do so. While
    manta rays
                          have been known to weigh up to 3,000 pounds, the
                          fish are usually far smaller.
                          "If there were just a ledge and he decided to head
    down, that boat
                          could have been gone," Barnes said. "Overall, the
    manta ray pulled
                          the 16-foot vessel for almost two hours and towed it
                          1 1/2 miles offshore."
                          Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All Rights Reserved
    Any boater who has to call the Coast Guard for help, instead of casting off
    or cutting the anchor rode - while watching himself be towed out to sea for
    two hours ....deserves to be!
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