Posts Tagged ‘sharks’

Just when you think things are going swimmingly simple, something will come along and complicate your life.

Recently, I spent three weeks enjoying the East Cape of southern Baja.

Without a doubt the most spectacular single day was the one where I ventured on a dive boat out of Buena Vista in Baja Sur, which is located between Cabo and La Paz.  After a very enjoyable journey with the same company the previous year, I once again joined the crew from Vista Sea Sport, which included an Aussie-sounding, Brit divemaster named Simon.

The accumulated assessment of all the marine life we saw in just one day will be split into a couple posts.

But today it’s all about the rays.

that's close enough, buddy

Given a recent news story, I felt compelled to mention the tragic, yet unlikely fatality of a Florida woman from a sea creature that was anywhere BUT in the sea.

On our way to one of the many great dive spots off of Cabo Pulmo, we enjoyed watching dozens of rays flying though the air, some landing within a few feet of our dive boat–close enough that we covered our cameras as they splashed their landings. 

We never dreamed that anything bad could come out of this incredible show worthy of a Marine World audience. 

Well, a woman in Florida might have been thinking the exact same thing–right until a ray came flying upwards of six feet out of the water and crashed right into her, causing a severe head injury that killed her dead. This from an MSNBC story.

MARATHON, Fla. – A 75-pound stingray killed a Michigan woman Thursday when it flew out of the water and struck her face as she rode a boat in the Florida Keys, officials said.

While en route to our dive spot, we were marveling at the magnificent sight of the massive numbers of manta rays. The dozens we estimated that were flying out of the water at any given time was absolutely paled by, what we could only conjecture, was tens of thousands swimming by underwater.

Whoa, you may be saying–if you were apt to say “whoa.” How could we come up with such an outlandish number?

The water clarity–or the vis, as the divers call it–is usually enough in this area that you can see the ocean floor. Except this day, you couldn’t.

you could walk on water

There were so many hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands–obviously we did not actually count all of them–that as we peered over the edge of the dive boat, all you could see was what looked like a movie reel on a continuous loop of parading rays; one after another after another. They seemed to be never ending.

As to the reason for the rays taking flight, no one can say with certainty, since–as far as I know no one has yet asked the rays– but the guesses range from: trying to remove parasites; to avoiding prey; to courtship; to going after food–according to the animal dude, Jeff Corwin.

Our divemaster was quoted yesterday in MEXFISH.com about our amazing adventure.                                                                   

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Simon Cazaly of the Vista Sea Sport diving service at East Cape reported on a trip to the Cabo Pulmo marine park for sea life sightings including very heavy concentrations of jumping mobula manta rays. “We’ve just had an unbelievable day here on the East Cape,” Cazaly said. “All of us were just blown away by how many of these beautiful creatures there were. They blocked out any light from the surface. There was barely room for the water. One of my experienced divers said in 40 years he had never seen anything like it and probably would never see anything like it again.”

dreaming of rays

The highlight was when we were on the bottom during our second dive and we looked up to see what can only be described as a surreal dream sequence in black and white where the graceful rays were gently flying overhead as if in slow motion.

We were mesmerized.

When we finally surfaced there were high-fives all around with smiles of disbelief at what we were just lucky enough to have witnessed.

This was after a marvelous motoring trip with shows of  jumping dolphins and migrating humpback whales…but more on that in a later post.

But the recent story about the bizarre and unlikely collision of ray vs. boat passenger made me remember that there are many hazards in the marine environment; not all that you might anticipate.

And if it isn’t safe being on top of the water any more, certain scientists are intent on making my life even more interesting by sending speeding sharks my way.

Released great white shark speeds to Mexico

– The Associated Press
Published 11:31 am PDT Sunday, March 23, 2008

A great white shark released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium six weeks ago has already swum past the southern tip of the Baja peninsula – about 1,200 miles away.

Aquarium staff say the male shark’s migration is the fastest ever documented from Monterey to Mexico.

To cover the distance, the shark traveled at least an average of nearly 27 miles a day, assuming it swam in a straight line.

Aquarium staff attached electronic tags to the 6-foot-long predator before releasing it to track its travels. The shark is now heading south toward the Mexican mainland.

Thank goodness we were tucked up into the Sea of Cortez.  Hopefully this guy will continue heading south. 

Hey buddy…Australia is that way…

(Thanks to Matt Mowen for the great pictures of the jumping rays and looking up from the ocean floor.)

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How long has it been since there has been such a proliferation in adventure travel of a nature that death or debilitating personal injury is better than a 50-50 proposition?

And please tell me exactly what is the tremendous attraction to these activities.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ll take an adrenaline fix with as much a rush as the next guy – or gal, but under most circumstances I would like at least a fair shake at being able to repeat the innervation again some other day.

What brought this thought to mind was a tiny news item buried back in my local newspaper yesterday that basically gave the following facts:

1. Guy, who happens to be named Markus, pays for a Scuba diving trip to see sharks.Shark doing what sharks do.

2. Guy’s choice of commercial diving company – Scuba Adventures – chums the water with bloody fish parts to attract said sharks.

3. Guy is in the water waiting for said sharks: no shark cage.

4. Guy gets close up view as said sharks show up.

5. Guy is dead.

No really…this actually happened. Read the story for  yourself.

Now, I’m not saying this guy is a shoe-in for a Darwin Award but…WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?

Sharks have teeth – lots of teeth – and their function in the grand scheme of things is to kill some form of meat – mammal, fish, and yes, ocasionally a surfer or diver.

You certainly cannot blame the shark for doing what they do best…survive.

I could provide a litany of many other instances of so-called adventure, or extreme, travel where I personally would question the cost-benefit ratio of the thrill of the activity vs. the likely – and sometimes very bad – outcome.

I am a firm believer that if you want to go out in a blaze of glory, have at it.  Just don’t create any collateral damage, whether they be friends or first responders trying to put out your fire.

In the case of Markus, I strongly suspect that he did not plan to make this his last dive.

Ironically Markus was a lawyer; I would guess he has – or had – lawyer friends.

If I was Scuba Adventures I would probably get a lawyer myself. A really good lawyer.

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