At second glance, however, it seems the gentle giant might simply have swum too close and been snagged by part of the camera's lighting apparatus. Fortunately, the evidence was recently made available for all to inspect, thanks to another alert videographer.
The incident occurred as the crew of the travel show, "Into the Drink," was wrapping up a nighttime shoot. Travis Matteson was beneath the surface aiming upward to obtain footage of a plankton bloom.
Johnny Reidt was filming his partner when the plankton-eating manta approached swiftly from the side, snatched the camera, rolled over backwards and swam off as the camera was still filming.
Matteson was sure his $5,000 camera and other gear, with an overall value of nearly $10,000, was lost. But the manta eventually returned to the dive boat and released the equipment, which was retrieved undamaged. The Kona episode will air next year.
-- Pete Thomas
Editor's note: This post also appears on the GrindTv.com outdoors blog