Tomorrow I am going to dive with sharks as part of the Shark Awareness Specialty Course at Stuart Cove's at the Bahamas. But last weekend I was at Grand Caymans, and had the oppertunity to dive on Sunday at Wildlife Reef and Paegant Reef. Although these were very beautiful, and I had a blast diving them, the most impressive diving experience at the Cayman Islands was on Monday at Stingray City.
Stingray City is a series of shallow sandbars found in the North Sound of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Here southern stingrays are found in abundance and people can interact with the animals. The southern stingray, Dasyatis americana, is a stingray of the family Dasyatidae (the Whiptail Stingrays) found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Brazil. It has a flat, diamond-shaped disc, with a mud brown/olive/grey dorsal surface and white underbelly. Female stingrays can grow to a disc width of 150cm.
To find prey in the sand they use their extraordinary senses including touch, smell and electrosenses. These rays have amazing adaptations that allow them to fit perfectly in the benthic zone life-style. The barb on its tail is serrated and covered in a venomous mucous; it is used for self defense.
At Stingray City you get the opportunity to swim with these amazing animals. This experience was unbelievable! These stingrays come right up to you looking for food. It’s breathtaking to be surrounded by these animals in their natural habitat because they are so beautiful and so gentle. The only time a southern stingray would intentionally harm you would be if it felt threatened. Besides that, they just want to visit and get the snack you’re holding in your hand.
These rays and their habitat are extremely important and need to be conserved. Please help spread the awareness for this species and its habitat.