Big Rays of sunshine - Day 135 May 21st Moorea, French Polynesia

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Sat 28 May 2016 06:44
17:29S 149:51W

Big Rays of sunshine - Day 135 May 21st Moorea, French Polynesia.

Big Rays of sunshine, or 12 into 2 dinghies does go…

The Sting Ray feeding was about 5 miles up the reef from where we were anchored.
Dan from Do Over had found it, and invited us up to feed the Rays. As luck would have it, our newly serviced outboard refused to work, and Dan's outboard was also playing up, so we all hitched a lift in Paw Paw and Kativa's dinghies. We headed out into the bay on the two dinghies, to be greeted by a pod of some 12 Dolphins, who then started playing on the bow wave of our dinghy. We had never been so close to them swimming along like that, normally seeing them on the front of Nina in the sea. Fantastic.
When we arrived at the place where the feeding station was, we tied up the dinghies together to the buoy and immediately the Sting Rays swarmed around looking for food.
We had tinned pilchards, which had been recommended, but it had to be in oil or brine, not in tomato sauce. Too messy! We had a tin left in the cupboard from Portugal, so just right!
The water was chest height inside the reef, with a lovely sandy bottom, so jumping into the water, we were swarmed by about a dozen huge Rays, from the size of bicycle wheels, up to the size of dining room tables.
Soft, rubbery, like huge discs of slippery smooth neoprene rubber, dark grey through to light brown on top, and white on the underside, gliding up over all of us looking for a feed.
Their eyes and gill holes sticking up on the top of them, either side of their bony head, mouth underneath, like a long H shape, so they couldn’t see what they were being fed, gliding and feeling as they rubbed themselves all over us searching for feed, rubbing themselves around our legs and bodies. They had long tails on the rear, hard and stiff and rough, with some huge barbs on the top, close to their bodies, but none of these were extended, and they were all folded flat down the tail.
Lynda had a big suck on her finger from one as it pushed its mouth forwards and then sucked the fishy treats in. No malice or aggression, just an inquisitiveness, like a huge swarm of fishy puppies
Other fish were darting in when the opportunity arose, from a lull or gap in the swarming rays. Rainbow runners, large jacks, from the tuna family, rushing in to clean up some stray fish in the water between the walking legs. Black reefed reef sharks swimming around outside the group of rays, we were discussing the idea that the rays seemed to be keeping the sharks at bay, away from the feeding humans. Certainly the rays were much more at home with the human interaction than the sharks.
On the way back to the Yachts, we found the underwater Tikki statues that had been set around an area of the reef by a local sculptor, and we snorkelled over them to see them, lying on the bottom of the reef a couple of meters below the surface.

In the afternoon, we all headed over to the beach, where we set up our BBQ, and Roy from Paw Paw also brought his over, for a pot luck pick nick. We had white tuna steaks (yellow fin) that we had bought from the fisherman just up the road, chicken marinaded in lemon, and coleslaw. And lots of cold Hinano beer.

In the evening we walked up the road to the Hilton Hotel, to see the music and Polynesian dancing, including a great Haka, followed by a fire dancing and fire eating show on the beach.

A truly brilliant end to a truly brilliant day.