Behold Dr. Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia's Mantabot, a silicone-winged machine based on the the cow-nosed ray, an eagle ray found off of North America's Atlantic coast. It may lack the grace of the extraterrestrials from The Abyss, but it's a robotic manta ray — hard to be churlish in that department. Explains UVA of its biomechanical applications:

Bart-Smith's ultimate goal is to engineer a vehicle that would operate autonomously, and could be deployed for long periods of time to collect undersea data for scientists, or as a surveillance tool for the military. It also could be scaled up, or down, to serve as a platform carrying various payloads, such as environmental monitoring instruments. For example, it possibly could be used for pollution monitoring, such as tracking the locations of underwater oil spills.

You can read more about this project at Bart-Smith Labs. [Via Robot Dreams]