7:15 wake up call, coffee, muffin and banana. Then downstairs to wait for our pick up. Olive joined us. While we waited I visited with the huge parrot that lives in a cage out front. A pretty miserable existence. I think he gets out once a week when the hotel does it's pirate themed dinner. He came over to the bars so I could pet his feathers and scratch his head. He has some random things hanging in the cage and brought me the edge of what looked like a little wind chime so we could play tug of war.
Captain Marvin's van came, the founder of the company is still alive at 97 and sometimes makes appearances, but not today. Got shuttled to a dock and aboard a medium size boat, not packed in. The channel we used to get to open water had homes on either side, nice homes, expensive homes. We rode out to the area where the stingrays come and there were only about 4 other boats there. We got our instructions and could see the rays all around. The water was only about waist deep and very comfortable. The guides gave us squids to hold and the rays glided over our hands and sucked them up. They are naturally bottom feeders so the amount of suction from their mouths was amazing. They just swam around us, seeming to glide with those beautiful wings. They didn't seem to mind being touched, their tops can be a little rough and bumpy but the underneath is like velvet. They stayed as long as we had food. The guides spotted Orion, an older female who they have seen for years. They know her by the pattern of the white age spots on her back. We saw a few with small wounds, the guides said it happens sometimes from other animals or the coral. Orion let Eric, our captain, hold her and he let us hold her and give her kisses. I was in seventh heaven. Olive told us that when Ivan passed through in 2004 they were worried about the stingrays, whether they had become too dependent on human feeding and if they would get swept out to deep sea. After the hurricane passed, within a couple days they started coming back, seemingly no worse for wear.
Back on the boat to a spot we could snorkel. I didn't see many fishes there but the water was clear and the coral beautiful. We moved next to the Coral Gardens, and there I saw lots of different fish. I tried to use one of the guides to identify them but couldn't figure it out. That was our last stop, it was great including the boat ride.
We grabbed lunch from the deli at the hotel, ate and had a nap. The sun really takes the stuffing out of you. It was nice to have Olive along, she and her husband have been coming here for years and now live here part of each year so she knows what to see and do. She is a very pleasant person and I enjoy her company.
In case you haven't figured it out, I'm having trouble getting pictures on this thing again. Will continue to work on it.