After zoning out a little during the pre-dive instructions given at Stringray City in Grand Cayman Island, my dive buddy took the squid for feeding the rays, at my insistence. I was a little nervous and respectful of these majestic creatures, so I decided I wouldn’t touch them. You aren’t supposed to touch ocean creatures while diving anyway. It’s one of the first things you learn in scuba diving certification class.
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A top 3 kind of dive
Before our harrowing hurricane adventure in Grand Cayman, we managed to squeeze in some diving. Stingray City is still one of my all time favorite dives (with a caveat)! It is an awesome, shallow dive with incredible creatures. It is also a fantastic snorkeling experience, for those who aren’t scuba certified. Divers feed the rays. In turn, the rays swarm the divers, giving an excellent view to those above.
Into the ocean we jump!
Once in the water, all the divers sank to the sandy bottom, purposely heavy. We were instructed to stay on our knees. On the sandy bottom, I had a chance to look up to the snorkelers, who circled above.
Immediately, a ginormous stingray came up to me, looking for food. Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain on my right arm. Did she bite me?
“Stingrays don’t bite,” I remember the dive master saying before my Stingray City dive. “But they might give you a hickey.”
Oh my god, she’s sucking on me, I think. And it hurts!
Quickly, I pushed her off of me, while marveling at her tremendous strength and graceful beauty. So much for not touching the rays, as I’d decided pre-dive. They swam close, as if they were tame. I lost count of how many bumped into me. They swarm, looking for food the easy way. Rays are strong and will knock you over.
The extra weight allowing us to sit on our knees on the sandy ocean floor was for our safety.
How do you get your very own stingray hickey?
By being brave enough to dive with them!
I didn’t feed the rays, content with my interesting and somewhat painful experiences with the amazing creatures. Once we surfaced, I discovered that others had also received “hickies” from the rays. One guy was bleeding! My stingray hickey broke the skin, but it wasn’t bloody.
If you are planning on doing this experience, read this first and please remember that stingrays are wild creatures and not tame, even though they seem to be. Stay calm. The rays will swim to you and push you around quite a bit. The smaller the ray, the bigger the possibility that she’s a wildcard. The larger rays are older and wiser.
What’s your coolest ocean creature experience? Have you been diving with stingrays? Would you want a stingray hickey?