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Stingray City with a toddler

Discussion in 'Caribbean Ports' started by Hama, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. Hama

    Hama Guest

    My husband and I are taking our (almost)2 year old son on a cruise to Grand Cayman this spring. We would like to go to Stingray City, but don't know if that is pracitcal with a toddler. (The tour companies say "all ages welcome.") Does anyone have any experience with this? Let me add that my son is very comfortable in the water (swimming pool) and loves marine life. Thanks.
  2. seamom

    seamom Guest

    There are a lot of opinions on the post that has sunk a little lower on this page...click here for experiences with kids and stingrays:

  3. Worse comes to worse you and your husband can take turns in the water, while one stays on the boat with your son.
  4. Natalia

    Natalia Guest

    Im thinking he might be just fine if he likes the water... too young to be scared of the rays maybe. I would bet its ages 4 and up who get a little scared. You will have to hold him because the water will be waist to chest deep. He would get to touch them... he wont remember it, but what fun for him!
  5. S. B.

    S. B. Guest

    Rather than advice, here is some information, collected from several sources, you may wish to consider.

    “Stingray City†is located in Grand Cayman’s North Sound approximately two miles off shore. North Sound is across the island from George Town, capital of Cayman Islands and the cruise ship port. Stingray City is a sand bar the size of a football field where over the years the island’s fishermen cleaned their daily catch and in so doing attracted and fed the area’s rays, predominately Southern Stingrays.

    Unless you leave for Stingray City directly from your ship you will first be transported by tender to George Town. Grand Cayman has no dock for cruise ships. From George Town visiting Stingray City usually requires two additional boat trips taking thirty minutes or more to reach the site. It is not known what emergency assistance is available or if it is close or reliable.

    Water depth over the sandbar varies from two to four feet. Many tour operators depending on their watercraft, water conditions and the size of the crowds have passengers enter deeper water and they must swim to the sandbar where the sting rays feed or the operator will encourage the rays to come near their boat. The water at Stingray City is often rolling waves. It is not unusual for swells to reach three to four feet.

    Grand Cayman is a popular port, having multiple cruise ships arriving with many thousands of visitors each day. Stingray City is the Cayman Island’s number one attraction with hundreds of people boating out to see the rays daily. Most find the water beautiful but the area can have poor weather and sea conditions. Stingray City is always crowded with both boats and people. Most tours serve alcohol or allow passengers to bring their own. Many passengers to differing degrees become intoxicated. Although there are smaller boats with fewer people some of the larger boats have as many as one hundred passengers on board. Many would be described as party boats.

    The stingrays interact with the tourists for food. Most people visiting Stingray City that have “swam†with, hand fed and handled the resident Southern Stingrays have done so without incident. A few have had their hands or arms “bitten†usually little more than a reddish pucker-mark. Although the rays at Stingray City are pretty much habituated to contact, stingrays do pose some danger. It has been reported that some 1,500 stingray-related injuries happen in the United States every year. Most are minor wounds around the feet and ankles although more serious injuries, even a death have been reported. The “sting†which gives these fish their common name is a modified dermal denticle mounted near the base of the tail, about one-third along its total length. The sting consists of a blade-like barb with serrations along both edges and a venom gland at the base. If stung the barbs are difficult and very painful to remove. The venom is a fairly powerful nerve toxin. Overall stingrays are gentle creatures and when threaten they usually flee. Still some people “accidentally†get stung and some stingrays become competitive even aggressive when feeding. (Males average one and half feet across. Most females are about three feet across although some reach six feet.) Larger females have been known to knock people down in their pursuit of food. People often find themselves surrounded by fifty or more stingrays at a timeâ€â€swimming up onto the chests, over the arms and through the legs of unexpecting tourists. (Although usually not the case there are some days when only a few stingrays are at the sandbar. There are also times the stingrays show little interest in interacting with people.) At a minimum, with all the commotion many say that it is difficult keeping their balance and staying focused while in the water with the rays. Adding to this difficulty is that the stingrays submerge themselves under shallow sand and people have to be extra careful not to walk on them. For some the experience, at least at first, is intimidating if not terrifying. Unfortunately, even if you are prepared yourself for such an environment you cannot control the tens of boats and the hundreds of people in the water near you. Some adults become frightened. Some literally scream. Sometimes while startled, their inexperience in water and with the rays cause some people to inadvertently, at a minimum, lessen the experience for others and at worse endanger those around them.

    Most people do find their time with the rays extremely worthwhile. It is without doubt a remarkable experience. Nevertheless, Stingray City can only be described at times as chaotic and experiencing the stingrays is not without challenge and risk.

    Although the opinions, insight and information provided by participants of this message board can be very helpful, all such information, including the above should not be relied on without verification. Nor should it replace your own complete research and investigation. Best of luck to you and your family.

    Post Edited (03-12-04 02:46)
  6. Natalia

    Natalia Guest

    Hmm well I dont know where all that info came from, but I would be scared to death to try this tour if all I read was that. The fact is, hundreds on this board have done this tour, and I only remember ONE mentioning a "sting" and I dont know if that was the actual poster of someone else on his tour. Just about every single person here will tell you that it was a great experience that should not be missed. Do your own poll on the community board, see for yourself.

    Yes, the waves are unpredictable, and can knock you off balance just like at any beach. Yes, the rays do have a "stinger" and you can be stung, but of the very few this has actually happened to, Im betting it was because the person backed into or stepped on the ray, not because it became agressive. Your tour guide will give you VERY specific guidelines on how to walk around, touch and feed the rays. They deal with these creatures every day, its their business, and they do know what they are doing. In the case of an emergency, they know just what to do to get you treatment. Yes, when you first get there, it is intimidating. Yes, the rays can leave a "hickey" on skin that they think is food (dont wipe your hands on your leg or swim suit after feeding one, I did that and a ray sucked on my rear end :lol... just for a second, it didnt hurt, it didnt leave a mark). They do NOT bite. The only chaos is when you go with a huge group of people, and yes in that case there is a chance for people to get scared, and in turn scare those around them. Go with a smaller, private tour company to avoid this. Also keep in mind, these rays get hand fed day after day after day... all year long. They arent starving and mob-like. I did this tour, I am speaking from experience. I took both my kids. I am doing it again with my parents and grandmother later this year. Yes, as with anything, there is risk.... one lady here broke her ankle getting into the tour boat.

    I say all of this not to argue with S.B.'s above post (it is quite informative)... but to put your mind at ease if you really want to try this tour. Its fantastic! okok... Im hopping off my =soapbox now :grin

    Post Edited (03-10-04 14:07)
  7. S. B.

    S. B. Guest

    To Natalia:

    I am pleased that you had the opportunity to experience the stingrays off Grand Cayman and that you found it “fantastic.†As I wrote in my reply to Hama’s inquiry, most people find interacting with the stingrays remarkable.

    Nevertheless, Hama’s question was not if she and her husband should take a tour to Stingray City but rather if they should take their "almost" two year old child with them to experience the rays.

    I would never attempt to answer that question. So instead of advice, I offered some general information that might be useful in making their decision. I also encouraged them to investigate the matter completely themselves. I am sure you would agree.

    Post Edited (03-12-04 02:45)
  8. Hama

    Hama Guest

    I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to weigh in on this. I feel like I can make an informed decision now.
  9. buckeyeinmd

    buckeyeinmd Guest

    We did the Stingrays last year with our sons (4 & 7). The 4 year old didn't want to go in the water but had fun pointing out the stingrays. The good thing was that he was old enough that he could stand in the boat where we could see him and not worry. 7 yr old was afriad to go in until the captain put him on his back and led him around. He was mostly afriad because he couldn't stand in the water. We booked thru Captain Marvin's which I would highly recommend. If you book over the internet, odds our whomever you book with will be more accomodating. As it turned out, the 2 man crew with Captain Marvin's was great. One guy even held a stingray and took it over to the boat so my little one could touch it. Also, there were only about 20 people in our boat. The boats we saw from the cruise ships had probably 100 people on them (plus cost more).


    Victory 4/13/03

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