Stingrays!

An ideal day of fun and sun in the ocean turns dangerous!

My boyfriend was a former Navy SEAL, so it was only natural that we spent time in the water together, preferably in the ocean. This wasn’t a problem as we were only a few hours from our favorite beach there in Florida. Set next to a harbor, this was not a crowded, touristy site but one that lay almost forgotten between the greater sands north and south of it. It was a very calm day with no sign of the usual surfers, there being very little in the way of waves. A few sunbathers and some children playing near the shore were the only ones to share the water with us this day. The lifeguard was stationed in his tower, looking as if he wished to sleep. We swam out much further than we usual would, due to the lack of forcing waves to tax our strength. We floated and talked, swam and held together in wet, wonderful play. I was getting tired but didn’t wish to end this special time. My friend noticed this and despite my protests, started back towards the stretch of beach where we had left our things. I was grateful for his insistence by the time it came into sight for we had been out for quite a while and had drifted farther than I thought.

We were close enough to shore now to put our legs down and walk in. I was just about to do just that when he reached out to me and shook his head, pointing down to the water below us. The water seemed grey and moving to its own current below the surface. I didn’t know what this was and gave him a questioning look.

“Stingrays,” he whispered as he drew me close beside him. “Do not put your legs down! Move slowly.”

I felt my heart leap into my throat and a surging fear energized me to keep afloat. Looking closely, I saw that the grey was a mass of moving stingrays just below the surface. One or two wouldn’t be a problem as they can usually be frightened away but there must be hundreds of them! I looked towards the beach which was so close now, noting that no one was in the water.  The life guard stood on the shore, arms akimbo as he watched us approaching. My friend touched my arm to get my attention and then pointed toward the breakwater. We have to go there? It seemed so far away with danger just below us!

We swam slowly along the surface, moving as smoothly as we could so as to not disturb or alarm the swimming mass below us. Time seemed to slow, then stop as all of my senses became sharp and clear. I grew numb to the fear as if something had placed it to the side of me, not of me. I noted the sun shafts into the water, dancing with joy upon the rippling mass below me. I felt its heat embrace my body and drew comfort from its touch. Thoughts spun through my mind, all the whys and what if’s… then there was silence and peace as if they were shoved away by a greater force and forbidden to re-enter. I found that I was truly living in that moment. It no longer mattered how far the breakwater was. I felt as one with the sea and the air around me though a part of my mind questioned my sanity. I reached down below the water and gently stroked one of the bodies below me. I felt such a great sense of wonder and joy even as my heart slammed in terror at my actions! Looking to my friend, I saw him do the same thing and I smiled.

The breakwater was close now and the edges of the stingray mass were sparser as we approached the rocks and boulders. The waves grew rougher and the motion of the sea seemed to crash against the jagged edges there. The moment of peace was broken and the full force of reality slammed into me, taking my breath and cramping my body as we struggled to lift ourselves up onto the rocks. The what if’s and terror came back with a vengeance! The lifeguard had climbed down the facing to get as close as he could to help us. He reached for my outstretched arm as my friend gave me a final push upwards and out of the potentially deadly waters. He then quickly scrambled to follow me. We were safe and sat huddled together for a while upon the slanting, slick, sharp surface of granite and concrete. Wordlessly, we gazed at the scene below us. Awe and fear, joy and gratitude, flooded me. I trembled and couldn’t stop the shaking, even as I smiled. I knew without a doubt that we had not been alone in that water with the stingrays. God had held us and carried us to safety.

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About dagonsblood

Virginia Lee enriches her writing with her experiences of the human spirit, sharing the same in her work of helping others. Enjoy the journey!
This entry was posted in Enjoy the Journey! Life's Lessons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Stingrays!

  1. Dan says:

    Well written, another example of God showing the splendor and dangers of the world simultaneously.

  2. dagonsblood says:

    Thank you for following my blog and leaving such wonderful comments! I’m getting “Enjoy the Journey” put together slowly but surely. Will certainly let you know when all is ready!

  3. danniehill says:

    Having a Navy SEAL as a boyfriend is a good thing– for a woman! Don’t call him ‘former’. SEALs and Marines don’t like that, lol.

    Having spent time on several pacific islands and loving the ocean; here’s a tip if you can take a deep breath and do it. Swim until you’re in no more than waist-deep water and then walk shuffling your feet through the sand. Stringrays aren’t out to harm you and their spike isn’t for hunting. They will fly to another spot.

    This was another great descriptive story, Virginia! I was holding my breath for you.

    • dagonsblood says:

      Thank you Dannie, for the compliment and bringing me a smile!

      I agree, there is no “former” to either of them and there are definitely pros and cons in such relationships. I was once married to a Marine for 15 years!

      Thank you for the tip too, though I don’t think there was any space for me to have stepped down between them. It was quite a phenomenon! I will take that breath and “shuffle” if I ever encounter a lesser amount of these ‘flying’ beauties.

  4. Anna Drake says:

    Well done. I felt I was there. I’ve never been in an ocean. I may never think of those waters quite the same way again.

    • dagonsblood says:

      I’m so happy that you liked this. Please note that anything of beauty may carry dangers but one should not deny the experience of enjoyment. Look at the rose, it has thorns. I know, less threatening than stingrays. This encounter was a rare phenomenon. See the note of another comment made by Dannie Hill, as to how to enjoy the water even when you have visitors there with you! Nice to see you. Thank you for your comment!

    • dagonsblood says:

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave me such a nice comment. I hope that you get the chance to enjoy the ocean someday. There is such beauty and peace to be found there. There are dangers to be aware of, as in anything in life, but the joy is incredible!

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