There are lots of things fishing boats pull up in their nets. But when a Peruvian fishing crew snagged a giant manta ray weighing more than 2,000 pounds and spanning 26 feet, even these seasoned fishermen were shocked.

The boat was fishing roughly eight miles off the coast of Peru when the giant ray got caught in the net, crew member Franco Vergara  told the Merco Press.

“We were taken completely by surprise when we felt the whole boat shudder and lurch,” Vergara told the paper. “We looked over the side and saw this enormous creature below us. ‘I had never seen a Manta Ray live before and it took a couple of seconds to realize what it was.”

The ray pulled the crew’s small, wooden boat an hour from the coast, leaving them fatigued and facing a long trip back to shore. After several hours, the crew hauled the fish to a nearby inlet, but were disheartened to see that it was bleeding out and would die.

After photos of their catch surfaced, the captain and crew faced a barrage of angry social media attacks, in spite of the fact that they weren’t targeting rays and the catch was accidental.

Manta rays are uncommon in Peruvian waters, leading the Peruvian Sea Institute to work with local authorities to discover why the manta ray was there in the first place.

© Totophotos | Dreamstime.comManta Ray Of Maldive Photo