What could be more beautiful than a beautiful view? Basking in it from above, of course!
Watch as this pair films their landing while parasailing in Destin, Fla. They probably were happy enough to record the sight of the clear, peaceful, blue-green water of the Gulf of Mexico. What they saw instead was so much better. “There were thousands of what we believe were Golden Cownose rays,” Michael Morrison wrote on YouTube. “It was pretty surreal.”
Yes, that is probably what they saw. Cownose rays are known for their long migrations in large schools. The population in the Gulf of Mexico migrates in schools of as many as 10,000 rays, clockwise from western Florida to the Yucatan in Mexico.
Sometimes these guys are mistaken for sharks when their wingtips break the surface of the water. Sometimes they even jump out of the water and land with a loud smack. The cownose rays prefer shallow, brackish water, but tend to swim at the surface, reducing the risk of humans stepping on them.
This particular type of ray is dark brown to golden brown on top, and white below, with a stout body and triangular ‘wings’. The distinct lobes on the front edge give it the name cownose, and the long sturdy tail has one or two serrated spines with mild venom. Their tile-like teeth are used to crush crustaceans and mollusks, as well as small invertebrates and bony fish. They are known to school in large groups to migrate great distances, to the great delight of divers and photographers.