Bananakwits, Rays & Hutias

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Flag of Bahamas  , Exuma,
Saturday, March 3, 2012

We have these adorable little birds called Bananakwits that are not afraid of people and actually fly down below on the boat and will sit on you begging for food (crackers). They come to visit every day. Today we snorkeled on the shallow reefs and saw quite a few varieties of fish. They are all protected within the 176 square miles of the park. While Denny was in the water I watched a huge manta ray leap out of the water and then about 50 yards away do it again. Then while Den was on his way back to the dingy, it leaped into the air a few feet from the dingy! It was an amazing thing to see, at least 6 feet long from nose to tip of tail. Pretty scarey too! All I could think about was that woman from Florida a few years ago that was attacked by a sting ray while in her boat. The locals said the reason they jump up in the air out of the water is to get the parasites off their body. When we stopped at the office on the way back to the boat a crowd on the deck said they saw the whole thing and were amazed at it's size. There's a party onshore at 5:30 put on by the staff. They provide the ice and everyone provides drinks and snacks. The event was also attended by a large gathering of Hutia - a plump, brown, rabbit-sized member of the rodent family. Hutias are unique to the West Indies. They are nocturnal and are the only land mammal native to the Bahamas. They feed on leaves and twigs. But they preferred our food tonight. We will stay here til the front goes through sometime this week. We do have internet but it costs $10 for 100 MB or 24 hrs, whichever comes first. So can't use Skype. Will write more later.
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