Image: Manta ray moved
Mario Nixon  /  AP
A helicopter transfers a 1,000-pound manta ray named Zeus from a captive marine viewing habitat to the Atlantic Ocean as part of a release and research program at Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas.
updated 5/8/2008 9:56:52 PM ET 2008-05-09T01:56:52

A 1,000-pound manta ray was returned to the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday after three years as a research subject and tourist attraction at a Bahamian resort.

The massive black ray, known as "Zeus," was lowered from a helicopter on a hydraulically welded frame to ensure its safe entry into the water. It spans nearly 13 feet in diameter — including a 3-foot-wide mouth.

Marine biologists had studied the creature and will now use a satellite tracking tag to monitor its movements in the open sea.

Relocating the ray from its 2.7 million-gallon aquarium took more than two hours, according to a statement issued by the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.

Known for its water slides and pink-towered hotel, the Atlantis is the flagship resort of Kerzner International Holdings, a casino and hotel developer. The resort employs 7,800 people, making it the largest private employer in the Bahamas.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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