Stingray City is one of the top attractions in the Cayman Islands, which Bruce and I visited last year. The “city” is actually a shallow area in the Caribbean, about a 10 minute boat ride from Grand Cayman.
On a busy day, a dozen or so small boats will back up to the sand bar, and people jump out to stand in about waist deep water. If you like, the boat captain will hand you some chum, basically chopped up squid and fish and other gross things. But this is what stingrays eat like candy and they come cruisin’ as soon as they hear the boats and smell the chum.
It’s kind of freaky at first as they fill the water and then Yikes! one will brush you on the leg. After that first squeal, I calmed down. The bottom side of a stingray is as soft as a baby’s behind and their touch as gentle as your mother’s. If I wasn’t standing in waist deep water in the middle of the Caribbean, I could have sworn it was my cat brushing up against my leg.
I was thinking of that wonderful encounter with stingrays this weekend as the SeaLife Aquarium opened in Kansas City. Among the 30 exhibits is one of those wonderful plexiglass tunnels that you walk through and see the fish swimming all around. Stingrays are among the creatures that swim over head, along with zebra sharks and other marine life.
You don’t get to touch stingrays at this aquarium, but you can hold a crab and touch a starfish. You see and learn about everything from jelly fish to octopus to seahorses. Did you know that jellies have no heart, blood or brain?
I prefer to learn about wildlife in their natural environment, (many could argue that Stingray City in the Cayman’s is not a natural environment) but that’s not always possible for everyone.
Even if it is, a visit to places like Kansas City’s new SeaLife Aquarium is a wonderful reminder of the many creatures with which we share this beautiful world.