New Years Day 2003

OK. Picture this:

We had just finished 4 days of great diving in Cozumel on a long weekend trip to ring out 2002 and ring in 2003. At the end of our fourth dive on January 1, 2003 we are half way through our safety stop at 15 feet in a shallow part of Paradise Reef. As we look around, a huge eagle ray glides in and settles on the bottom just 15 feet below us. I scramble to get my camera to boot back up so I can video this creature. He waits patiently for me to get booted up. Once the camera is running he takes off. Not fast. I can keep up with him with only moderate effort. I really think that if I wanted, I could have caught him and gone for a ride. But I was trying to stay far enough away  to get all of him in the video screen. He had to be over 8 feet across. Unfortunately, there is nothing to compare him to for scale. The remora on his belly was about a foot long. I was busy looking through the little view finder and I was not able to tell if we were swimming with the current or against it. I remember thinking that if we were swimming with the current, I was probably going to be half a mile from the boat so I stopped taping after only a few seconds. As it turned out, I was going against the current so when I stopped taping and turned around everyone was about 20 feet behind me still under the boat. Afterwards, Johnny, one of my dive buddies, said that he wished he had a camera to get a picture of me chasing the ray. He said it was so much bigger than me that I looked like a remora trying to catch up with my ride.

It was late in the day. The sun was setting so the lighting is bad and it is a little grainy but I hope you can get a small piece of the excitement we experienced.