DESTIN, Fla. — Divers in northwest Florida had a rare underwater encounter on Sunday, and they captured it on video.
Two whale sharks and a large manta ray were spotted swimming around the sunken Thomas Heyward liberty ship, about eight miles southwest of Destin.
Alex Fogg, coastal resource manager for Okaloosa County, was among the group of divers and estimated the manta ray was 10 to 12 feet across.
“Its always a treat to hear about whale sharks and a manta being seen off Destin, Fort Walton Beach. Rarely do you hear about them being in the same site together,” Fogg said.
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Fogg said the sighting was reported and he’s curious to see if they are spotted by others in local Gulf of Mexico waters.
“Hopefully, in the next few days we will know if the two whale sharks have been spotted elsewhere,” Fogg said.
The SS Thomas Heyward was a World War II-era cargo ship. It was named after Thomas Heyward Jr., who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and of the Articles of Confederation as a delegate of South Carolina.
The ship was sunk at its current location in 1977 at a depth of 87 feet.