An afternoon at Maroona beach ended up being an afternoon of environmental rescue! Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share as I no longer have an underwater camera (that was always on my arms when in the water!) and my cell phone was not an option!
I played on the waves on my air mattress, the side onshore winds blowing me along. Along the way I noticed a net in the water. I floated along side it for a bit, then over it, towards the shore. Suddenly, I heard a splash behind me – freaking me out a bit as I was a ways from shore and no one was behind me! I turn to see a large something in the water, caught in the net! I jump off my floaty – the wind taking it – as I ran to see what creature was in trouble. A stingray!
The poor fish’s face was completely snarled in the fine lines of the net. It’s eyes bulging out – it’s mouth gasping. I yelled for help to the nearest child – unfortunately the wind carried my voice away. I use my arms to signal help. The boy’s father notices me, and starts my way. I’m yelling to get a knife or something to cut this ray out of the net – but he can’t hear me. It occured to me that this is a stingray. I take note of the tail. It’s about a foot long, very thin. I avoid the tail as I hold the net to stop the ray from tangling himself further.
The father arrives, takes hold of the stingray, and immediately starts ripping the lines from the fish. He has no problem touching it. I touch it – it felt like a wet rubber hose – like a dolphin. I tell the father he’s much braver than I am! People start noticing the commotion and come into the water to see. Then, just like that the fish is free! The father and I high five each other as it swims away – sharing the joy of helping a sea creature that was trapped in a net – a net that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
A couple further down the beach caught my air mattress and walked it to me! I made my way back up the beach – found Michael – and shared my exciting story. Inspired – I was off on my air mattress to patrol the net to see if I could save other sea creatures caught in its illegal lines. I freed two more stingrays caught in the net! These two thankfully not nearly as tangled an the first.
An elderly Arab man found the anchor that held one end of the net, located where the public swim. He removed the anchor, setting one end of the net free. I grabbed the free end and started gathering it on my air mattress thus starting the obsessive and laborious job of pulling the net out of the water. About 100 meters later of pulling and gathering net, I eventually made my way to shore, still pulling the net. Exhausted, I needed help. Michael joined me, as well as a few students from work and their mom! We freed three crabs from the net. Unfortunately, the other end of the net was still anchored further down the beach, in deeper water. We gave up. I then cut apart what I had pulled out of the water with a knife borrowed from a group of BBQ’er’s – dragging the pieces up to a garbage can.
My childhood dream was to be Jacques Cousteau and study dolphins in the Caribbean. Rescuing stingrays in the Persian Gulf felt pretty awesome!!!
The stingrays rescued looked exactly like this one:
I’m not sure what one of the rays listed below is this one – because none seem to look exactly like it.