RAYS OF SUNSHINE ON THE ABACO MARLS
The Marls of Abaco are prime bonefishing grounds, a vast area of labyrinthine mangrove swamps, sandy islets, channels and shallow flats on the west side of the main island. The fish are wily and powerful, the fly hooks are barbless, and each one caught, retained, boated and swiftly released is a prize. There’s plenty of other wildlife to be seen. Heron and egrets, ospreys, belted kingfishers, wading birds and many other bird species make the Marls their home. In the water, there are snappers, jacks, barracuda, and sharks of various kinds and sizes. These latter range from small black tip, lemon and hammerhead sharks to more substantial contenders, with the occasional massive bull shark to add a frisson for those on a suddenly fragile-seeming skiff…
There are also rays. I have posted before about the SOUTHERN STINGRAY and the YELLOW STINGRAY. Out on the Marls I have mainly seen Southerns as they move serenely and unhurriedly through the warm shallow water. A couple of weeks ago, we were out with the rods when we had a completely new Ray experience. I’m not overly given to anthropomorphism and getting too emotional about encounters, but we all found this one quite moving – even our very experienced guide.
Gliding to our right side, a pair of stingrays slowed as they neared the skiff
The adult paused very close to us, allowing the little ray to catch up
Lifting a wing slightly the adult let the juvenile creep under, while keeping a beady eye on us
The large ray was missing the tip of its tail, presumably from some adverse encounter
The creatures examined us carefully for 2 or 3 minutes, before separating
Then they slowly drifted away across the sand…
According to our guide, this gently protective behaviour is not uncommon. They may well have been completely unrelated, the large ray tolerating the smaller one accompanying it through the waters and offering a kindly wing in the presence of danger or suspicious objects like us.
Photo Credits: Mrs RH (I was too entranced at the sharp end, with a bird’s eye view, to get a camera out)