Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Swimming with Manta Rays
One morning, the Kamaya crew heard splashing in the water. The four of us scrambled up the companion way and looked outside -- manta rays. The rays were circling the boat, quite close. “What a perfect time to swim with them.” suggested Bendon.
And that is what we did. We put on our swimsuits (or “costumes” as our French friends call it), snorkels, and jumped in. Mommy stayed in the kayak to point out where the gentle giants were swimming. I went under and heard the familiar chattering of the sea urchins and tiny fish, welcoming me into the water.
I looked around, and saw it. It was bigger than Kai. The giant ray headed straight for me. His wings were pumping up, and plummeting down. His mouth was open wide, gulping nutrients. I could see right through his gills and filter, and into the open ocean. He had no teeth, but gray gills surrounded his mouth. He seemed prehistoric, yet also unimaginably and beautifully elegant. He flew; he glided; he danced through the water.
I have never seen a manta ray underwater. This was amazing. The mantas were twirling through the water, and I saw many. Occasionally they would stick their wing tips out of the sea. From a distance the tips looked like tiger shark fins. But no, they were not sharks; they didn’t prowl and scavenge for bits of food that would be so unwise to come into their grasp. They are Giant Manta Rays. Dancing, and not scavenging.
I watched the manta rays swim away and then I too turned, and slowly slid out of the water, and onto the boat.
But then just as I stood on the deck, they came back again. I heard the splash of their fins going back into the water. We saw them circling around the coral, minding their own business, as if our encounter with them had not happened. But for me, I felt different and in awe of them.
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