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July 4, 2023

This Is a Giant Manta Ray That Was Captured Off the Coast of New Jersey in 1933

On August 26, 1933 New York silk merchant A.L. Kahn finally managed to catch a massive manta ray that had become ensnared on his anchor after shooting it several times. It was 20ft wide and weighed 5000lbs.

Kahn’s fishing tale was reported by several contemporary newspapers, including a fascinating account published in the December 10, 1933 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Sunday Magazine:
When a fish gets caught on a hook, it isn’t news. But when the hook happens to be the anchor of a boat and the fish weighs between five and six thousand pounds, then you have not only news but, what is rarer still, an unusual fish story that's true. And with the fish itself at hand by way of proof.

It was Captain Al Kahn, fishing off the New Jersey coast with a party of friends on board his cabin cruiser who had the unique experience of an epic battle with a monster of the deep that had hooked itself on his anchor line. The result was a harrowing three-hour struggle to decide whether the fishing party was capturing the fish, or the fish was capturing the boat and its four occupants. But before the battle could be decided solely on its merits, a coast guard cutter came to the rescue of the distressed fisherman, and pumping twenty bullets into the giant devilish put an end to one of the most exciting and hari-raising adventures that ever an angler experienced.

“Fishing,” says Kahn, who has some of the philosophic temperament characteristic of followers of Izaak Walton, “is a lot of fun when you catch the fish. And sometimes its fun even when you don't. But when the fish catches you!” and with an eloquent “Phew!” and a shrug of the shoulders Kahn shook his head as if the rest of the sentence would be superfluous.

The monster was finally brought ashore, where it was found to weigh between five and six thousand pounds, and was twenty feet and five inches in width.
The newspaper also published a photograph of Kahn’s boat, the Miss Pensacola II, which was ill-suited for the unenviable task of hauling up a giant manta ray from the ocean’s depths.

As news of Kahn’s catch started to spread, crowds began lining up to get a glimpse of the enormous creature. Kahn charged 10 cents per head to view the manta ray and raised enough money in the first few days to buy the local fire department a new $3,000 fire truck. The devil fish was then sent to a taxidermist so that it could be preserved for exhibition at various events.


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