Pigs with Wings
27 November 2007 | Los Frailes, Baja Peninsula, Mexico
Well, not really...but just as weird. We left La Paz on Sunday, with Nancy's cousin Travis along. Travis flew down from San Francisco, and will be with us during our crossing to Mazatlan. He is an extremely good kid (to me, a "kid" is anyone under the age of 35), and he's restoring my faith in the younger generations.
From La Paz we headed out overnight, bound for Los Frailes. We had been here on our way up the Sea, and knew it would offer a welcome distraction from the congestion of La Paz and Mazatlan. Boy, did it! As we pulled into the bay that is Los Fralles and hunted for a suitable spot to drop anchor, we noticed a few rays "flying" under the boat. Kinda neat, but no reason to get too excited. Soon, we were hearing loud, distinct "flops" all around the boat...turns out these rays can jump out of the water. They break the surface, flapping their wings to an altitude of about 4 feet, before belly-flopping back to their liquid world. OK, pretty neat, and worthy of some excitement (and video footage).
About now, Travis decides to do some snorkeling. Over he goes, doing a few laps of the boat. As we're watching and talking to him, a dark patch of water closes in on the boat. Probably the shadows of some clouds. On a totally cloudless day. OK, so what is it? Travis dips his mask under water and reports that the carpet of darkness that's rapidly approaching is a massive school of these batrays...hundreds, if not thousands, flying along the bottom and blocking out the light-colored return from the sand below. Wow, real neat, very exciting. Specially if you're in the water watching this marine version of a locust plague fly right at you. Afterwards, we asked Travis if he was freaked out. "A little" he says. Calm under pressure...an enviable trait. The rays stayed with us for our 2-day respite. In all I estimate we saw thousands jump out of the water, and many times more simming under the surface.
Rounding out the fisheries' report, we did some snorkeling on the local reef, where we saw umpteen kinds of tropical fish, and we chased a pod of what looked just like small killer-whales, while they were hunting and feasting on schools of prey. Los Frailes rocks!