TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — A monster stingray estimated to be at least 10 feet long was spotted Sunday, March 17, by divers in the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles west of Tarpon Springs.
- Divers on chartered trip to Veterans Reef
- Stingray allowed divers to swim around it for nearly 45 seconds
- FWC biologist: Stingray appeared to be a very large roughtail stingray
- More Pinellas County stories
“I’ve never seen a ray that big,” said Shawn Campell, a Narcosis Scuba member. “Especially in the Gulf.”
The divers were on a chartered day trip hosted by Narcosis Scuba to Veterans Reef, about 8 miles west of Tarpon Springs, in 34-feet of crystal clear water. Campbell can be seen on the video swimming within 6 feet of the ray for a size reference.
“No one is going to believe how big this ray is unless I get next to it. So, I just decided to go (for) a parallel shot,” he said. “I’m 6-foot and I have 2-foot fins on. You could see in the video, just how small I look, compared to this ray.”
Howard Cohn, 52, from Wesley Chapel said he’s been diving in the area since 1978 and shot the video of the stingray.
“I’ve never seen a ray even close to this size,” Cohn said.
On Cohn's video, the ray appears to be docile and allows the divers to swim around it for nearly 45 seconds before taking off.
"I was still trying to give it its space, because I didn’t want to spook it and I didn’t want to harass the ray,” said Campbell. “He was just letting us kind of see him and then he just decided to go off on his own business.”
The owner of Narcosis Scuba, Captain Joyce Hannaseck, said she’s been diving in those waters for more than 30 years and it’s one of the biggest rays she’s seen, too.
“That thing was 10-to-11 feet.” she said. “I am so excited that people get to see something that I’ve seen but I never had proof of.”
An FWC biologist said the animal appears to be a roughtail stingray, and is definitely a big one. The disc on the ray can get up to seven feet wide.
Campbell said he hopes some of their other customers will get a glimpse of the giant ray before it leaves for the season.
“It’s going to probably stay around until we start to get into summer and the water really starts cooking up,” he said. “Then it’s going to head towards deeper water.”
Since Spectrum Bay News 9 first broke the stingray story it began going viral. Cohn said he can't believe it.