Stingray feeding in Bora Bora

Frankly, upon hearing about “shark and stingray feeding” I imagined some Polynesian marine park where tourists dangle bait off the side of a boat while oooing and aaaing at a safe distance from the fearsome creatures. Shark and ray feeding in Bora Bora is nothing of the sort. At first the water color itself had me oooing, a seemingly artificial hue of pale blue so brilliant and with visibility so transparent that in the shallow water the floppy stingrays clearly appeared like freaky alien watercrafts gliding across the white sand. The boat anchored around them and my guide hopped out with a bucket of small dead fish. I followed, with snorkels on head. His tossed bait soon attracted a feeding frenzy: suddenly a dozen white gulls were flapping above us, while the ominous dorsal fins of as many prowling sharks clustered on the surface. The stingrays and schools of striped yellow fish circled in the midst. It was like being fully immersed in an aquarium exhibit, the glass wall nonexistent. Things then got even wilder. With bait in my hand, the fish and six-foot-long stingrays rushed into me – the sharks and birds disappeared – slimy bodies now all around, flopping, jostling, elevating high above the water, the rays’ ugly sucker mouths puckering up to my sunburned face. Apparently the creatures are habituated to visitors and unlikely to sting – good to know. The bombardment had me drunk on some cocktail of adrenaline and giddiness  – woahing and oh-my-goding, while also cursing and laughing, as if being harassed by bees while a puppy dog licked my face. 

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