Wednesday morning in our Los Frailes anchorage, I woke to the repeated slapping sound of small manta rays, also called mobula or pygmy devil rays, that were leaping out of the water along the beach and the cliffs. They kept up the acrobatics all day and night, and I went in pursuit of them with my camera. At one point I saw at least a dozen of them all in the air at the same time as they went bouncing along the shoreline like so much popcorn popping in the skillet. We have no idea what they were accomplishing – they eat plankton so it is not a feeding ritual. Trying to photograph leaping rays, guessing where they will next erupt out of the water, is quite a challenge, but in the end I did nail two close-ups and several long distance shots. There was also a pod of dolphins quietly cruising in the shallow water – they too were in the bay all day and night, just hanging out. Around the corner of the rocky point was a sea lion colony and flocks of pelicans and cormorants perched on the rocky promontories.
We bundled up in several mils of wetsuit and took the dinghy out for a tour and a snorkel – on what is advertised as the only coral reef (Arrecife del Pulmo) on the west coast of North America. It definitely was a coral reef, although the comparison with South Pacific coral is pretty pathetic. The water is still winter-chilly down here, the air temp is nice but only in the 70s, so swimming and diving is not real inviting at the moment – we need more heat!