Saturday, June 4, 2011

Swimming with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

For anyone who has ever been to the Cayman Islands, you know that swimming with stingrays is one of the highlight tourist attractions. Several years ago, my family and I visited the islands and did the whole tour of the island, visited a turtle farm, took a nice trip through Hell (there really is a city there called ‘Hell’) and finally, swam with stingrays.

That experience made quite an impression on me as this last time, we opted to swim with them again. It’s funny because when a lot of people think of these creatures, their first expressions are ones of fear; however, these are some of the gentle and amazing creatures of the sea.

The last time we went out to a sandbar in the middle of the ocean and were standing in water waist deep, just watching and touching them as they swam by us. This time, we were literally in the ocean and unfortunately, we had to wait for the divers to bring them up to the surface for us to see them.

Swimming in clear blue water, it was fairly easy to see where they were, but the current was so strong that we kept being pushed back into the rope that helped to hold the boat in place. I didn’t do much exercising on the cruise, but spending 45 minutes treading water and working to swim against a strong current and I promise you, you will feel it later.

That's me holding Romeo

One of the divers went down to bring up Romeo, a male stingray. Opting to provide us with a bit of stingray knowledge, he asked if any of us would like to hold him. Being the one closest to Romeo, I decided (after a bit of encouragement from my mom) to hold him. Now, there is a specific way to hold a stingray so that they one, won’t swim away from you, and two, they won’t take on a defensive “attitude.”

Being instructed by the diver, I placed my hands on the front area of his fins, with his face pointing towards me, and kept his eyes just below the water. I’m telling you, it was one of the neatest experiences being able to hold this stingray. He felt so smooth, yet a bit slimy. It’s not the kind of feel that makes you want to jerk your hand away though.

The instructor told me to just let him go whenever I was ready and so I did. He swam away and I immediately looked to my parents and asked if they’d gotten that on video. With a thumbs up from them, I was grateful that I’d though to bring my video camera on this trip; to capture moments just like that one.

My sister and me on the boat


Meri said...

Oooh, I did this when I was little! I was not about to get too close, but it was really neat and the water is so incredibly crystal clear!

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