Swimming with Golden Rays in the Galapagos

Galapagos Marine Life, Isabela Island, Videos

It was another beautiful day on tour in the Galapagos. We wandered lazily about Tintoreras bay, Isabela island in a small panga boat. The water was warm and crystalline turquoise, surrounded by lava rocks and red mangroves growing wild along the coast.

Brown pelicans dove into the water for the days catch, marine iguanas were swimming in the bay, and penguins sunning on the rocks. I couldn’t help thinking how extraordinarily lucky we were to be there.

That’s when we jumped in the water to enjoy some snorkeling. I swam around for about 5 minutes, spotting some colorful fish, but mostly just relaxing and taking in the scenery. All of a sudden I recognized dark shapes swimming in the foreground and I kicked up my fins to get closer.

Swimming With Golden Rays

Rays! We had seen some rays swimming around, either one, two or three at a time, but this time there were at least 10 of them! I popped my head out of the water and shouted “Rays! 10 of them! Come quick!”

We were swimming with golden rays!

Sticking my head back in the water, they circled closer, and more and more came into focus. And that’s when I realized there weren’t 10 rays in the water. There were 20! No, more like 50! I popped my head out of water again and started proudly shouting / exaggerating what I had found…..“Rays! There are 50! There’s a gazillion of them!” I was so thrilled to be swimming with golden rays!

Like birds in slow motion, they flapped their wings and followed each other in oddly organized patterns, circling in a vortex and then swimming straight, only to circle back again. We floated above gawking and taking 100s of pictures as they paid us no attention whatsoever.

15 minutes later we were still mesmerized to be swimming with golden rays, when someone shouted “Shark!!!! Over here!” And I reluctantly left to go find the next wonder.

When we got out of the water, I saw that our naturalist guide Sandra was as excited as we were. She told us that she had seen a big school of golden rays like this one only once before, in all her 5 years of being a naturalist guide.

I knew it was my lucky day!

A Video of Swimming with Golden Rays

What you can see snorkeling in the Galapagos is amazing! Do you like to dive?

Please tell us about your favorite underwater adventure in the Galapagos by leaving a comment on this post.

Meet the Author

Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on this site and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on CuencaCultureShock.com

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