Week 21 – ray

Week 21 – Saturday 20 October to Friday 26 October 2012

Illustration by Rhiannon Shaw, The Big Issue 294. December 2007

Tom saw a decent-sized stingray this week, out between the groynes, where the serious swimmers go. Late last summer there was a ray in the shallows one day, almost on the sand. It wasn’t looking too lively.  Tom and Roger tugged it out out of harm’s way into deeper water. It still wasn’t looking too lively but the outgoing tide looked after things.

I spied a little ray, maybe the size of a frypan last week and then this week, on Wednesday, I saw a larger ray in the shallows. About a metre wide. I floated above it for a few seconds. It stayed still. The first ray I saw last year was Saturday 5 November. The first ray I saw in 2010 was Saturday 30 October.

There’s another ray we see quite often at the beach: Ray the walker, with the big “G’day!” and the big smile.

In a month or two I hope to find more stingrays around the corner at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary.

Here’s a story I wrote five summers ago called Looking For Big Ray. The Big Issue published it back then.

Any day now, I’ll see it. Early morning maybe, with the place to myself, save for the descending hot-air balloons and the incoming ferry. Or later in the day with people about, unsuspecting visitors.

I will be floating. It will be camouflaged, its diamond shape hidden just below the sand. There might be two circles, like dark coins, to give me a clue. There might be a hint of its tail, a vague line in the sand.

Any day now. The wind will be still, the water will be calm.

My chest, already feeling the pressure of the water, will beat hard. My eyes, protected by goggles, will widen. My breathing, aided by the snorkel, will quicken.

The key is not to panic, to know that you can be safe. And then to try to stop time, to savour the moment… Continue reading