It was another beautiful day in the Galapagos. We wandered lazily about Tintoreras bay in Isabela island in a small panga boat. The water was warm and crystalline turquoise, surrounded by lava rocks and red mangroves growing wild along the coast. Brown pelicans dove into the water for the days catch, marine iguanas were swimming in the bay, and penguins sunning on the rocks. I couldn´t help thinking how extraordinarily lucky we were to be there.
That´s when we jumped in the water for snorkeling. I swam around for about 5 minutes, spotting some colorful fish, but mostly just relaxing and taking in the scenery. All of a sudden I recognized dark shapes swimming in the foreground and I kicked up my fins to get closer. Rays! We had seen some rays swimming around, either one, two or three at a time, but this time there were at least 10 of them! I popped my head out of the water and shouted “Rays! 10 of them! Come quick!”
Sticking my head back in the water, they circled closer, and more and more came into focus. And that´s when I realized there wasn´t 10 rays in the water. There were 20! No, more like 50! I popped my head out of water again and started proudly shouting / exaggerating what I had found…..“Rays! There´s 50! There´s a gazillion of them!”
Like birds in slow motion, they flapped their wings and followed eachother in oddly organized patterns, circling in a vortex and then swimming straight, only to circle back again. We floated above gawking and taking 100s of pictures as they paid us no attention whatsoever. 15 minutes later we were still mesmerized by the rays, when someone shouted “Shark!!!! Over here!” And I reluctantly left to go find the next wonder.
When we got out of the water, I saw that our naturalist guide Sandra was as excited as we were. She told us that what we saw were golden rays, and that she had seen a big school of golden rays like this one exactly once before in all her 5 years of being a naturalist guide. I knew it was my lucky day!