Stingray City must be Grand Cayman's best known and most visited tourist attraction. But what do we really know about this amazing natural phenomena? Here's the rapid-fire low-down:
Stingray City all started in the 1950's when fishermen came in to the North Sound after their trips out to sea and the rich fishing grounds of the Banks. They would gut and clean their catch and dump the unwanted bits into the sea as they entered through the channels in the reef. The canny Stingrays quickly got wind of this 'free lunch' and thus started the gradual ascendancy to what we know today as Stingray City.
Are Stingrays dangerous? Only if you try and lift them out of the water, stand on them or grab their tails. There have been only a few incidents over the last 50 years, and generally it only ends up with a nasty sting. Most injuries come from the powerful sucking 'bite' that happens when the rays suck in the squid that the tourists feed them. The trick is to hold your thumb down low just like feeding a horse with a sugar lump!
What type of ray is a Stingray? It is in fact a Southern Stingray, and is closely related to sharks.
Did you know that some of the rays are so recognizable and well-known that they have their own names. Ask your guide to point out Midnight and Scarface.
The little light gray stingrays are the males and the larger ones are the females. The males group together to mate, with two holding down the flaps of the female while one male plays the mating game. And while we're on the subject...male rays have 2 penises or claspers. Good luck getting a close look - the males are very hard to get hold of.
How deep is Stingray City sandbar? It all depends on the tides, but normally anything between 3 and 4 feet at its shallowest. The sandbar is always protected by the barrier reef, but sometimes when the wind blows it can be a little wavy, so just be careful to keep your wits about you.
What do stingrays eat? In their natural habitat they would eat anything that lives in the sand. They feed by detecting the electrical pulses in bugs, molluscs, snails, crabs and anything else that moves. Then they suck the food out from the sand and and spit out the unwanted grains. They also eat seagrass, but it's not as tasty! Over the years we have been feeding the rays with squid to help make the interaction more dynamic for tourists. The rays love it as much as we love filet mignon or apple pie!
Aqua Watersports is Cayman's leading operator of jet ski tours to Stingray City. We are the only company in Cayman to employ only qualified jet ski guides. We also offer luxury boat charters to Stingray City, Starfish Point and Kaibo beach. Call 1-345-328-2662 for info and bookings. www.aqua-watersports.com