There is a beauty in stingrays that is not found in any other creature of the ocean, nor in any of the other realms, I believe. A singular kind of beauty that is not found in any of her fellow creatures that inhabit the sea, not in the intelligence of dolphins, nor in the magnificence of the whales, nor in the simplicity and variety of every kind of fish. Stingrays have a rare gift, a blessing that distinguishes their existence and makes them stand out against all other sea creatures:
One must not found this curious or peculiar at first; after all, any number of creatures on the Earth can fly. There are even fish in the sea to which nature has allowed to wear wings, so it should come as no surprise that even water creatures are able to reach the sky, even if just for a moment. But the stingrays’ gifts are different. They can fly, it is true, but the true beauty and magnificence of their flight are that they fly underwater.
Their whole body seems to be designed for this purpose. It looks as if they are made of water wings and a sting. It is quite unfortunate that the sting is the only thing everyone focuses on. When one sees a stingray, one usually avoids it. We think of stingrays as ocean bees, who are ready to pierce you with their sword-like sting if you dare to bother their swim. But what we don’t notice, which is what most amazes me about stingrays, is that they do not swim, they fly. We are so worried about the sting that we don’t notice the rest of the ray. We don’t realise their gifts. They can fly underwater! And they do so with such grace, such dignity and easiness of spirit that it inspires peace in one’s soul. That is the beauty of stingrays; they can inspire your spirit to breathe, to let go, to fly, if you just let them show you how, if you just look.
I have seen stingrays of different sizes, colours and types. I have seen them buried on the sea floor, blending with the sand or flying through the water. They give me joy whenever I see them enjoying the waves, delighted with them like children at play. They love to surf. It is amazing to behold, the way in which they almost seem to smile whenever they catch a huge, roaring wave that carries them all the way to the shore and the way they rush back to the sea in order to catch another. It warms my heart. I see myself in them, that joy and freedom as the waves lift them up to the sky and inject life in them as they soar through the water. I only wish I could follow as they leave the shore to go deeper into the ocean.
But I have been afraid of stingrays too. I have also dreamt to have felt their sting. Nevertheless, the terror I feel when I first see them through the clear water fades away as I watch them spread their wings within the waves and I see them fly like underwater butterflies. I have touched them; their body is so smooth, smoother than water. I have brushed their sting, it is hard and spiky, so unlike the rest of their body. I have always respected their sting, I would never dream of bothering them and they, in return, seem happy enough to share their waves with me. It almost looks as if they boast of their surfing skills and want to teach me how it is done.
I love stingrays. I believe in their nobility of spirit and peacefulness of character. Whenever there is one near me I try to still myself, hoping it won’t notice me or get too close but as I look at the way she flies through the water I cannot help but stare in wonder and a peaceful warm glow enters my soul. And I cannot help but think that there is a beauty in stingrays that I had not noticed before.