It seems there is a never-ending list of cool creatures visitors can interact with then visiting the Exuma islands. If pigs, sharks, or iguanas aren’t your things, consider a swim with some stingrays. Here are a few tips to make the most of your time with the rays.
1. Head to Stocking Island
Stocking Island is a must-see for any Exuma vacation. Stocking Island is a small, long and narrow island just off the port of Georgetown. It offers a ton of activities, but it’s also home to the famous Chat N’ Chill restaurant. Chat N’ Chill offers delicious food from conch burgers to a pig roast every Sunday.
It’s here that you’ll find the stingrays. They have become accustomed to being fed by visitors of Chat N’ Chill that they swim up for food. So head on over to Stocking Island (you can rent a boat or take a water taxi from Georgetown), enjoy some delicious food and wait for the rays to arrive!
2. They Enjoy Conch
In the wild, stingrays are carnivorous, eating smaller animals like worms, shrimp, squid, and small fish. It’s not surprising then that it’s the fresh conch that draws them in. Conch is by far the Stocking Island Stingrays favorite food. Visitors often feed them bits they have caught themselves, or from conch items off the menu. When you run out of conch scraps, other food can be purchased from Chat N’ Chill to feed them.
3. You Can Pet Them
These stingrays have almost become pets to the island. They are extremely friendly and docile. So hop on into the water and get up close and personal with them. Pet them, swim with them, and so much more! Just be careful of their stinger and you’ll be fine.
4. Shuffle As You Enter
Stingrays can be hard to see at times. While the water in Exuma is a stunning crystal clear turquoise, the rays can be less visible when covered by sand. They often hide, and their skin can range in color making them hard to spot. When you enter the water near where they’ll be, shuffle your feet so that you don’t accidentally step on one. That wouldn’t be fun for your or the rays!
5. Bring the Camera
Absolutely don’t forget to bring a camera to capture this moment. Since they’re underwater we highly recommend getting one that can take pictures underwater too. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim and interact with stingrays this closely. You’ll totally want to capture some pictures to make all your Instagram followers and Facebook friends jealous!
6. They Won’t Attack
Contrary to popular belief, stingrays won’t aggressively attack humans. When people come visit, they usually have Steve Irwin’s tragic death (which happened as a result of stingray’s stinger going into his chest) on their minds. But these rays have become incredibly comfortable being around humans.
It’s rare they will attack, but their stinger will come out if they feel under attack. That’s why you should be careful not to step on one! Getting stung by a ray isn’t life-threatening unless it pierces a vital organ (R.I.P. Steve Irwin), but it can still be incredibly painful.
7. Don’t Put Your Hand in Their Mouths
As we said, the stingrays are really friendly. However, it’s important to remember that however docile they are, they’re still wild creatures. Some people are shocked to learn that stingrays actually have mouths! They’re located on their underside, perfect for eating their food that often resides on the ocean floor. While not usually dangerous, we highly recommend you keep your hands away from their mouths. Their jaws are strong enough to crush mollusk shells so….
8. Feed Them Correctly
There are two ways to feed them, the first is to just drop it into the water and watch them swim and get it. If you do this, just make sure you don’t drop it near your toes in case they mistake your foot for some conch! The other way is to put the food in your hand and keep your hand flat with the palm raised. The stingrays will glide over and suck up the food! Remember to keep the fingers down, you don’t want them to take a bite!
9. Be Kind
Please, remember that these stingrays are living animals. They deserve to be treated with respect and kindness by all visitors. Locals will quickly put drunk or rude visitors in their place if they start to mistreat any local wildlife. Don’t ruin the chance to swim with stingrays for others by being cruel to such peaceful creatures. Plus, chances are you’ll come out worse in a fight against a ray.
10. Don’t Touch Their Tail
This should be a no-brainer, but absolutely don’t touch a stingray’s tail. Their tail is their stinger, and they don’t take kindly to it being pulled. This is a quick way to get stung or cut. Their body and fins are perfectly acceptable to interact with, but steer clear of their tail, which contains venom!
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