Leaping Rays

March 15, 2017
Early this morning we left Caleta Lobos. I had a quick breakfast of oats and granola and then we up anchored and departed. The wind was only 2 to 5 knots, so we put up the spinnaker and were going as fast as the wind.

When we reached Isla Espiritu Santos we dropped the spin and headed up to close hauled. As we ghosted through the water with less than a half a mile between us and the shore we were able to see the beauty of the island. There were clearly defined layers of conglomerate, volcanic, and sedimentary rock. We could see where landslides had left stone piled up in the blue water and where ravines had formed father from the shore. With only a few miles left to our anchorage, the wind died and we had to drop the sails and motor.

Soon after, we started hearing smacking sounds echoing off the stone cliffs. As we continued approaching land we saw huge splashes in the water right before the sound. Using the binoculars and Anson’s camera we were finally able to tell that these were jumping rays! They would jump four or five feet into the air and come smashing down on their white bellies, creating a noise similar to a gunshot. We were soon excitedly shouting out, “There, four o’clock!” and “Leaping ray, 8:30!”

Kim remembered what Jack had told us: If you see rays moving, stop the boat and jump into the water and you will see thousands of them. Kim got into the water first but came out almost immediately, saying, “It’s to freaky to go in alone, Devon you first.” Eventually we got in together without too much hyperventilating, and Mark handed us our masks, fins, and snorkels. We swam towards where we could see the rays jumping, 100 feet from the shore. When we arrived there were thousands upon thousands of them, just as Jack had said, in a virtual highway, lazily moving forward. It was one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen! Each ray had a three to four-foot wingspan with a grey top and a white belly. The tail was only a foot or so long but it looked like it could give a nasty sting. Thankfully none of us got hurt. Instead of a head it had two prongs, 8 inches apart at the front of its face, each with an eye on it. The mouth was a slit on the lower, white part of its face. (We haven’t been able to identify them yet, but hopefully someone can once we post the photos.) Kim and I swam over the highways, and I dove down to get within a few feet of the creatures. After twenty minutes more we switched off with Mark and Anson who had the Go Pro. Thirty minutes later they climbed up on board, just as awed from the experience as we were. Still drying off, we put the sails up and sailed in circles until Anson had good light for photography of the rays, mid leap. We eventually took down the sails and anchored while the last rays of sunshine left the sky. We fell asleep to the continued sound of rays jumping. Devon

2 thoughts on “Leaping Rays

  1. What a great day! You guys are so lucky to experience the rays! I’m across the street neighbors of the Meisel. Ed and Penny.

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  2. Absolutely amazing! Can’t wait to see the photos! I do remember watching them jump when we were there in the late 1990’s but we didn’t get in the water with them. Brave you all!!!
    Love,
    Nana

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