The conference over, there was a little free time the next day before we needed to head for the airport and several of us who did not have high level meetings to attend or other business on Cayman thought about how we might spend it. Top of the list was Cayman’s number one environmental hot spot , more known that even the Turtle Farm. To reach it we had to head out on to the water and into that major lagoon that Grand Cayman surrounds. The launch spot for this trip was not so far from the hotel and we all boarded a powerful cruiser and pulled slowly down the channel between the mansions and villas. Beyond the mangroves, the captain threw down the throttle and we surged out into the North Sound. It took less than ten minutes to reach our spot, a sandy bar not far from the lip of the lagoon where it hit the coral reefs and the Caribbean Sea beyond. It was so shallow here, the turquoise water was as azure as…. well more like topaz, but I’m not a specialist on precious stones. And for some curious reason a crowd of a dozen tourists were standing still up to their thighs in water, some barely up to their knees.
We were about to do the same thing. The boat had been brought to a steady slow cruise as we approached the sand bar and now it was stationery, a small anchor locked into the sand beneath to keep us in the same position. We were given instructions by the crew and one by one we lowered ourselves down the ladder astern and stood in the water waiting for things to happen.
It did not take long – from across the sand came a squadron of dark rhombus shapes. They swooped in fast, decelerated as one and broke formation to disperse amongst the tourist groups. We were now completely surrounded by about a hundred sting rays. Despite their name and fearsome reputation, they were the gentlest and most inquisitive fish I have ever come across.