Now, as a crystalline wave washes over my camera—half in, half out of the water—I watch in fascination as two stingrays cruise the shallows of North Sound off Grand Cayman. I have come to brussels accommodation to join divers who, amazingly, have been feeding large groups of southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) in waters protected by a barrier reef. As they gather around me, the rays lose their fearsome reputation. I find them to be gentle, wondrous birds of the sea.
Open mouth, insert fish:Jay Ireland offers this hungry ray a ballyhoo. In 1986 Ireland, a photographer and diving guide in the Cayman Islands, “I was fascinated,” Ireland told me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IUA8Gt01sk “Usually you can’t get close to stingrays, but they were swimming into my camera. “Ireland related his experience to fellow diver Pat Kenney, who began to feed the stingrays regularly. The rays have learned to expect such visits; today they become aggressive and pushy if the divers skip a day because of bad weather. Guides now bring as many as 150 divers and snorkelers a day to the feeding sessions. Divers have found that these stingrays have discriminating tastes; they’ll eat several types of seafood but prefer squid or, especially, ballyhoo, sometimes called halfbeaks.
Cloaked in sand, a ray is prepared to defend itself against any human that unwittingly steps on or kicks it. When this happens, the tail will whip around, planting the serrated, razor-sharp spine in the foot or ankle of the victim. The venomous spine, as long as six inches, causes tissue damage, swelling, and extreme pain, but it can also induce vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, a drop in blood pressure, and, rarely, death. I never forgot—and diving guides like Jay and Pat never let tourists forget—that stingrays can be dangerous. But these were so gentle that I became accustomed to having their tails caress the back of my neck or scrape across my faceplate.
Draped over a coral head, a ray eats a piece of fallen fish. Southern stingrays normally reach four to five feet across. But Cayman marine biologist Tom Byrnes says, “Because these rays are being fed so much, we may soon have world records.”
Trying a little tenderness, Penny hugs a ray bent on finding the food she has brought. Divers do not wear gloves, to avoid irritating the stingray’s sensitive skin. “It feels like a mixture of velvet and silk,” Penny told me.
The sea offers few intimate moments to a diver. You always look into it through a faceplate, a window. I often feel as if I am trespassing. But here diver and sea creature can look at each other a little more closely. If Cayman Islands officials protect the rays, divers continue to feed them, and human visitors treat them with gentleness and respect, they will provide one of the most rewarding experiences in the undersea world. Then i came back to prague holiday apartments.