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Angela Fairbank
Travel Writer

Moorea among the Stingrays

Our captain in Moorea, French Polynesia, Louis, was a handsome but shy 30-something year old with a good build, a wide smile and longish, curly dark brown hair. Smooth-chested like most Polynesian men, he sported an intricate tribal tattoo at the top of his back. Dressed in an ink-black skin-diving suit top with white stripes at the seams and carmine swimming trunks and for most of the time wearing wrap-around pitch black sunglasses, he waded in the South Pacific as he pulled our 20-seater motorboat closer to safer, shallower and sandier areas so that we could “swim” with the stingrays.

Moorea  Moorea  Moorea  Moorea


We were somewhat skeptical at first but these gentle marine creatures were harmless. Our guide drew them toward him by squeezing an ordinary plastic bag filled with water and dead seafood. Through the holes pricked into the bag, the salty flavoured concoction dripped slowly into the ocean. The stingrays, attracted by the fishy taste and smell, snuggled up to our captain as if they knew him and playfully nipped him. He took hold of a flat edge of one of them with his two hands and showed us just how tolerant they were to human touch.

Moorea  Moorea  Moorea  Moorea


One by one, my fellow boat mates pulled on their flippers and snorkels and plashed quietly over the side of the craft to approach so that they, too, could touch and caress the soft flesh of these large aquatic animals. Meanwhile, brightly coloured parrot fish and non-threatening nurse sharks, accompanied by their young fry, darted under the boat and around the periphery of our swimsuit-clad party. And I? Not fond of getting wet, I stayed safely in the boat with my camera and took photos, of the sea, of the stingrays and of our attractive captain.

Images from Moorea, French Polynesia © Angela Fairbank 2009.

See more photos of Moorea and French Polynesia in general at our photo stock site.

Written in Vancouver, Canada, 30 April 2009.

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