Last weekend, a series of impressive king tides, swelled by the full moon, rose our Gulf waters a foot or more higher above normal. In south Florida, sea water ran deep in the streets. But along our lightly populated coast, I noticed only submerged docks, from Lanark to Eastpoint.
On St. Vincent Island, the king tides carved two long swales and filled them with salt Gulf water. The pool closer to the dunes was deeper, and had apparently entrapped an active school of splashing fish. Or so I thought.
But five nights later, I walked along those same pools with my husband Jeff, and the evening angle of the sun revealed a dozen small stingrays thrashing in the upper pond.
Jeff pointed out the deep sculpting of the sand, how the unusually high waters had permanently stranded the pool and its inhabitants from the Gulf.
Each of these animals was about the diameter of a sun hat, and when we approached, they buried themselves in the sand.
Here’s a close up of one. You can see that if ever a sea creature felt worried and hopeless, this one certainly did.
And with good reason. The fate that awaited them in their dwindling pool was slow death by either starvation, heat stress, or desiccation. If you read my book Coming to Pass: Florida’s Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change, then you might remember my fondness for stingrays (see page 67-68).
We determined to rescue them the next morning. Our friend Chris produced three long handled nets, and at daybreak we were off, skimming over the Pass in our powerboat to the front beach of the island.
It isn’t often we are able to positively intervene in the fate of wild creatures, especially as more and more are affected by climate change and extreme weather events. What a privilege, then, to extend the lives of eleven beautiful animals!