When I was a kid I liked to feed the neighborhood strays. Cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, it didn’t matter. If I saw an animal that looked hungry, or in some cases not hungry, I was in the refrigerator taking out all of the lunch meat to feed it. I’m sure the food was meant for someone’s lunch the next day, but I didn’t care. I was a kid on a mission, and I had stray animals to feed. Well this story is kind of like that. In the harbor of Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, which is located in Spain, the kids have a hobby of feeding fish. Vueltas is a traditional harbor, where fishing boats come and go constantly. The fisherman will toss their bycatch by the entrance. This often will lead to animals coming to dine on the discarded fish. Manta rays are among the many creatures that frequent the area, and they are very loved by the locals. A small boy named Joel was having fun one morning, feeding the fish that crowded around the stairs of the harbor. He attracted a huge manta ray and began feeding the gigantic fish. The boy and the manta ray seem to have an instant bond. Their relationship works out quite well, the manta ray wants food, and Joel wants to give him food. They are a match made in heaven! The manta ray even let Joel pet him.
Although they do not have stingers, manta rays are technically a type of stingray. They have simply lost their stingers through the process of evolution. Manta rays can be easily identified by their great size. The largest manta rays have a wing span up to 25 feet and weigh as much as 3,000 pounds! Despite their great size, manta rays are not vicious predators. So no one needed to be worried that anything was going to happen to Joel. Manta rays are incredibly graceful underwater, and can move quite quickly with seemingly effortless movements of their pectoral fins. Manta rays even breech occasionally, leaping from the water and back flipping in the air. I wonder if Joel and his manta ray friend will ever meet again. I sure hope they do. There is something kind of fun and exciting about odd and unexpected friendships.