Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stingray City

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that tourism to the world famous Stingray City has dropped by at least 40%.

"Watersport operators on the Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean, are
reporting a drop in tourist numbers of up to 40 per cent with many locals
attributing the decline to the death of Steve Irwin (Sydney
Morning Herald

In August of this year (2006), I was fortunate enough to visit Stingray City. I was able to be the first one off the boat and got to spend at least 10 minutes with the Stingrays on my own while waiting for the rest of the divers. It was one of the most memorable experiences of all my dives. The Stingrays were so graceful and gentle and the visibility was excellent since no-one had kicked up any sand as yet.

As the dive progressed, the dive master started to hand feed the Stingrays and the other divers started to touch and pet the Stingrays. Personally, I do not like to touch the marine life so I just observed spellbound.

Like all things in this world, perception is almost as important as fact. The fact is that one is more likely to be injured by all kinds of things than being injured by a Stingray. What happened to Steve Irwin was a complete freak accident. However, I do understand the apprehension of casual divers and snorkelers toward Stingrays.

On the one hand, I am opposed to hand feeding the Stingrays, but on the other hand, Stingray City was one of my most memorable dives. I am a little conflicted about the interaction with the Stingrays in Grand Cayman, but since they have been doing Stingray City dives, there has been an excellent safety record.

The bottom line: lets continue to dive safely and responsibly, taking all reasonable precautions, but let us not stop enjoying the wonders of the sea because of one isolated incident.

No comments: