This is my personal experience of the first time I truly realized the vast beauty and authenticity of Mother Nature...
It was a hot and bright day in the Abacos Islands, a good one for boating to the stingrays. As I packed my snorkel gear and baseball cap, I looked out into the flat and crystal clear ocean, as it sparkled blue light shimmers into the sky. We loaded the boat and we were off. We were racing across the ocean; salty air filled my nose, as the strong breeze tangled my hair. After what seemed like minutes later, we slowly crept up onto a little bay. Peeking over the edge of the boat, my eyes lit up. Stingrays filled the bay, gently gliding through the shining water. My breath had been taken away by the fascinating, intricately-designed creatures.
The first encounter with the stingrays was gentle and eye-opening. First my toes, then my knees, and before I knew it, I was underneath the surface of the water entering an entire new world. Nervously, I reached my hand out as a stingray approached my left side. It’s slimy yet soft wing brushed against my hand, as if he were reaching out to me! After socializing with this new group of underwater companions, I grabbed a piece of sticky squid. I placed it on the palm of my hand, unsure of what I was about to experience. My hand broke the surface of the water and almost immediately stingrays glided towards me. As I sat with my legs in front of me in the shallow water, the first snack customer slowly swam over me and opened his long mouth. I couldn't see my hand under his belly, but I kept my arm out, hoping he would eventually slurp up the food. The anticipation of this moment had me grinning from ear to ear.
For the next several minutes I became a friend to the stingrays; I will remember these moments for the rest of my life. As I sat, I suddenly felt suction and my palm was drawn closer to the underside of the sting ray. My hand was coming closer and closer; my hopes were being fulfilled! After a moment, however, I realized not only was the stingray snacking on the squid but was attempting to vacuum up my fingers, too! I felt the sandpaper teeth rub against me as I pulled my hand away. I laughed at the thought of the innocent creature mistaking my hand for a snack. I quickly became comfortable with my new friends and basked in the amazing experience of connecting with Earth’s sea life.
If these cool creations had made an impression on me, how many other creatures were at the tip of my fingers, just waiting to be discovered? The moments while feeding the stingrays were the closest moments I have ever felt to nature and will be embedded in my mind forever. Not only will I remember this stunning moment for a long time to come but I also have an amazing story to tell. Who knew a stingray could open the doors to such great thoughts and adventures?