Spotted eagle ray

A spotted eagle ray swimming off the Big Island.A spotted eagle ray swimming off the Big Island.

During the summer months, the west coast of the Big Island sees more southwest or westerly swells. These tend to roil the waters and reduce visibility. So it was a pleasant surprise recently, to dip into the water and find good visibility for the first time in a while.

The good visibility wasn’t matched by the appearance of rarely seen, exotic fish. Only the ‘usual suspects’ were to be found, which is no bad thing. I enjoy watching even the most common of fish. However, I confess I was feeling a tad disappointed at having my camera and good conditions, but not seeing anything that especially fired my enthusiasm.

As if on cue, I looked up to see three spotted eagle rays coming toward me. One quickly slipped away and a second came and went. The third (photo at right) cruised back and forth nearby, keeping an eye on me as I kept an eye on it. It had clearly lost its tail at some point. I’m not sure if a new one will grow back. In the bottom photo, the venomous spines at the base of the tail can be seen, though the venom is not nearly as toxic as that of some ocean dwellers.

After a while, the two remaining rays headed out toward deeper water and disappeared taking with them any disappointment I’d been feeling.

For more information about eagle rays, go to bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2014/hayward_paig/index.htm
A spotted eagle ray swimming off the Big Island.

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