Saturday, July 24, 2010
The sea that delivered (a long story but a good story)
This morning I woke up early, too hot to sleep, had tried to manoeuvre into the bottom metre of bed where the slightly cooler air from the ceiling fan hits, but it wasnt very comfortable. The bay was calm and looking promising. I saw Urmas on the early morning water as we always do, told him I was determined to see a flying manta ray today as its my birthday and the sea owed me. Urmas said I needed to go a lot further out, beyond the fisherman in a boat on the horizon, be still and listen for the oomba (or something). I thought the whale whisperer would know, so I followed his advice. I paddled and paddled, past the fisherman who waved, straight into the nothingness, the water glassy, it was like gliding through air. A turtle swam around me, popped its head up, got a shock at how close I was, took a quick gasp and dived. That was cool and I thought perhaps the turtle was my birthday present and I tried to be satisfied. But I really wanted a manta (spoilt brat). I paddled further still, and stopped, and listened to the silence. I started to hear little watery pattery noises every now and then. I wondered if that was the oomba. I could see slight ripples and bubbles around me, spooky, the water out there is like ink. I was getting a tiny bit nervous. A long way from land, in a little plastic boat wearing next to nothing. Didnt Steve thingy die by manta? What if one lands on the kayak? I waited. Then I saw lots of fins making a commotion not far away, it looked exactly like sharks attacking something, I thought SHIT but remembered Nick saying he thought the same thing, that is what the groups of manta's look like. So I tentatively paddled quietly towards it. Soon I heard the loud SLAP of a manta landing on the water and I knew I was going to see my manta today! But hearing them is much easier than seeing them. I waited and watched, my eyes flicking all around with every little sound. Come on manta, jump, jump.. Finally I was rewarded. It flew into the air about 2 metres, right in front of me, it looked exactly like the photo on the wildlife blog, beautiful. They are big! and they jump so high. Seeing one makes you want to see another one, maybe you could get a little bit closer... I saw 3 in the end, and thought I'd better call it a day. I'd been out there for hours, being lured further and further out to sea by the dancing mantas. So I turned reluctantly to go home, had been paddling for about 5 minutes when I saw a big fin pop up about 50 metres ahead. I thought that is definately NOT a manta, and my heart skipped a beat. Then a few more fins rose on the backs of some breaching dolphins, phew, and amazing! They disappeared, and I paddled quickly to try and intercept their path. Suddenly they were breaching again, they had turned to come directly in a straight line towards me, about 10m away. My heart was in my mouth, I sat stock still, a little bit terrified (again). I thought stupidly they're going to tip me out! But they glided past me, about 1 metre from my boat, I could almost have touched them. The were INCREDIBLE. Blowing, big in-breaths then big deep sighs as they went down, like yoga breaths, almost human, an amazing sound, and so close. I have never seen or heard anything like it. I had to sit in silent reverence for a while after. Then I had to paddle all the way home, a rather long way I came to realise, and I collapsed on the beach, my arms like jelly, a very grateful birthday girl. A turtle, some mantas and some dolphins, thank you big scarey ocean, that was a magic morning.