Eagle Ray Roundup

Bloody Bay, Little Cayman, Cayman Islands

June 12, 1988

Mark is hanging out over the edge of the wall at about 40 ft depth. Just beyond him, the wall drops precipitously to about 5000 feet.


We were enjoying our exploration of the dramatic dropoff at the edge of the wall when this four-foot blacktipped shark came cruising down the edge of the wall. He was magnificently sleek and streamlined. You couldn't see any movement of his body as he moved through the water. He moved to within about 12 feet of us. When he saw us, he didn't seem to be alarmed, just made a small tail motion to turn himself 90 degrees to swim outward away from the wall. Below left, Mark is suspended just off the wall. Looking down, you saw nothing but deep blue. In fact, you could suspend yourself just off the wall with your back toward shore and look up, out, or down and see nothing but deep blue. It was a profoundly moving experience.

At right below, I pointed the camera straight down off the wall to see the deep blue of the great depth. The grouper and blue tang along the wall were turned directly sideways in the water, as if they thought the wall was the bottom. Even the fish didn't know which way was up!

This is another attempt to give some perspective on the dramatic edge of the wall. The grouper, who had befriended us on this dive after Mark fed him a shrimp, is headed downward over the edge of the wall. The school of tiny bright blue fish was just hanging around the edge. The water was so clear and the precipice so dramatic that you felt some vertigo as you swam over the edge, as if you were peering down from the top of a tall building. At nearly a mile deep, this was a tall dropoff indeed, but the wall below you blended into the deep blue probably within a hundred feet.

The beautiful coral formations on the edge of the wall formed an exquisite contrast to the beautiful blue as you looked out and down. Looking outward, you could see fish dotted at different distances until they blended into the backfround. Swimming out from the edge gave you a feeling of being in midair, with blue in all directions.

Once you got off the wall, you were just suspended in space with nothing below you or above you except blue water. Below, I am looking straight down on Mark and beyond him into the abyss. Thinking about the wall dropping away to 5000 feet depth gave a special feeling to swimming off the wall.

Turtle chasing


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