Holy sh*t I swam with a manta ray: the most incredible and awe-inspiring thing I’ve seen. (24/52)

We saw a lot of wonderful and incredible sights in Hawaii over the last two weeks, all of which I will shortly detail. But the one thing that stood out the most was this moment, so much so that I think it deserves its own entry.

We were snorkeling at Two Steps Beach on the Big Island, near Captain Cook. It was a treasure trove of marine life with an abundance of corals, but by that point we had been in Hawaii for a week and half, and everything I saw became unremarkable in that everything was routinely remarkable. I was swimming over to the other end of the bay to meet Mei on the beach, still hopeful that I might see a dolphin or two, when this great white shape appeared - about the size of me - and fanned out in front of me.

My immediate feeling was that of fear, since it’s not a run-of-the-mill experience to come face to face with a wild animal the size of myself on land, and who knows if this creature is benevolent. Even if it doesn’t eat me, what if I pissed it off by swimming near its home? This feeling of apprehension never quite went away, but gave way to so many more: excitement at this rare opportunity, curiosity in this strange beast, joy in watching it tumble round and round in the water. So I followed it around for two minutes, just out of reach. Not that it seemed to care.

I hate to anthropomorphize nature but in this moment, it’s impossible to not ponder the mind of this being, as it performed its strange dance. Perhaps joyously, perhaps hungrily. All of these thoughts and emotions combined themselves into a single concept - awe - and I found myself completely immersed in the presence of another entity in its undisturbed natural habitat, wondering just how many more lives like this one surrounded our thin surface of existence, evading our consciousness.

Without further ado (only edit I made was adding the music, over which you can still sometimes hear my gasps):