Flying giants: Incredibly rare display as manta rays leap 9ft out of water into the airBy Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 4:32 PM on 28th July 2010
They could be mistaken for strange-looking birds but these creatures are actually manta rays, leaping a staggering nine feet in the air.
The plucky animals, which measure just over three feet wide, demonstrate their acrobatic skills by bursting out of the water.
Once airborne they to flap their impressive fins in what looks like an attempt to fly.
Water leap! A manta ray soars out of the sea a staggering three metres in the air
Somersault: Two flying manta rays put on a display before diving back into the water
Incredibly rare: Roland and Julia Seitre were treated to an extraordinary acrobatic display
The French couple had sailed six miles out to sea in the hope of catching sight of some whales but were also treated to this extraordinary rare acrobatic display.
Mr Seitre said: 'The males jumped clear out of the water, up to three metres [9ft] high.
'They flapped their wings during the few seconds of flight, before hitting the surface with a loud banging noise.
'Some think it is a way to attract female attention as we saw pairs close by.
'Numerous males take off and land one after another.
'The bangs are so loud it's like you're being close to a hunting party with guns.
'Occasionally one seems to have even more fun by doing a somersault.
'This kind of behaviour is extremely unpredictable and incredibly rare to witness.
'We were so lucky, it was a complete coincidence that we were there in the first place.'
He added: 'These manta rays are beautiful.
'Their large wing-shaped bodies and slow motion make them excellent sea gliders.
'They not only impress with their size but also with their very elegant flight into the blue oceans.'
The manta ray is the largest of the all the rays.
They can grow up to 25ft across and weigh around 5,100lb.
Graceful: Looking as though it's flapping its 'wings' the amazing animal leaps through the air
Perfectly stream-lined for gliding through the water, the manta ray can reach speeds of up to 7mph.
They are often spotted swimming with divers and will sometimes surface alongside boats.