A spotted eagle ray was a special treat. Heading out for a morning snorkel/swim, the north end of the south shore looks exceptionally calm. That must mean the south end of the south shore will be crystal clear! And yet, that was not the case. A small swell had stirred up sand and silt. So, back to the north end of the south shore, to a favorite spot, and to be then rewarded with the sighting a spotted eagle ray. Not that uncommon in south Maui waters, yet not nearly as prevalent as, say, the turtles. Casually cruising in the fairly shallow coral-laden waters of north Kihei, I followed along as the eagle ray meandered around the area, taking pictures with my little underwater point and shoot camera. Some of these images are rendered through filters, such as monochrome and waterpaint…..
A little technical information about the spotted eagle ray: The spotted eagle ray is commonly observed in bays and over coral reefs as well as the occasional foray into estuarine habitats. Although it occurs in inshore waters to depths of approximately 200 feet (60 m), the spotted eagle ray spends most of its time swimming in schools in open water. In open waters, spotted eagle rays often form large schools and swim close to the surface. It is known to swim long distances across open waters as evidenced by its presence in Bermuda. This species is capable of leaping completely out of the water when pursued. It swims by “flying” gracefully through the water via the undulation of the pectoral fins. When this ray is caught and taken out of the water, it produces loud sounds. Although much research is still needed on the life history of the spotted eagle ray, it is known that this species shows high site fidelity (individuals often stay in or return to the same location). This ray also interacts socially with other individuals within its own species.
A Spotted Eagle Ray