The Stingray

Shona did a refresher dive a couple of days ago. It was an excuse for us on Quest to go back to the first place we ever went to in Barbados. The fancy yacht club. We don’t like it for its $50 burgers though. Ha! Not that the Ormerods can’t eat their feelings. Just it has a bridge with a shallow and sheltered lagoon. It is the perfect place for a first dive.

We came back to Barbados for this very place. Two years before, we’d seen it – just as we were leaving. Delph, we thought. We have to teach her to dive here. The other reason we came back was for Jason’s movies. They’re good too.

We feel blessed now that we managed to get back. We managed to teach Delph to dive. We managed to stay here safe and sound for almost six months. And a couple of days ago, we went back to the little beach. The yacht club restaurant is still closed. Phew! No expensive burgers – for better or worse. Instead, we snorkelled as Jack and Shona did their thing; diving under the bridge and around the rocks.

We saw the big stingray too. We haven’t seen it for ages. It was tucked up in the corner of the bridge. It blinked at us, half-buried in the sand. A month ago, Jack and I were on a dive together and it came for a soaring fly-by. It’s a big, graceful beauty.

Then yesterday, we went to the other extreme. Our anchorage posse went to dive Bright Ledge; an outer fringing reef dive site. We can see the yellow buoy from Quest – just. It’s the deepest free descent I’ve done for a long time.

I was nervous about it. Jack told me not to be, but for it to be that easy! I just hoped all the recent diving experience would see me through. As soon as I started to descend, my regulator worked fine. I took a familiar breath, and sank down gratefully.

We hung out at around 25m deep on Bright Ledge. Large and mature corals. Enormous sponges. Resident turtle did its own flyby. I realised I was a little nitrogen-narked – I could feel it in my vision. This is because it took a little while to focus on the numbers on my air gauge. Otherwise it was fine.

Yesterday, we went to the yacht club again. Jack wanted to do some skills with Shona. Delph came along too this time. It was awesome to see how much she’s progressed in the last few months.

The stingray was still there. The remoras were still on it. Its tail was bent into a strange shape though, and it was buried further in the sand. A turtle came and sat alongside the ray. That’s when we noticed. It wasn’t blinking at us anymore.

The ray had died – since we’d last seen it. The remoras seemed as though they didn’t want to believe it. And the turtle was reluctant to leave the ray.

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