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stingrays

New Jersey
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181 posts
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stingrays

Just curious if the whole tail of the stingray is considered dangerous, or just the barb that protrudes from the base of their body?

Colorado
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for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
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1. Re: stingrays

It depends on the kind of stingray but at SRC you have nothing to be concerned about.

Crowley, Texas
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2. Re: stingrays

Your guide will show you the barb up close and instruct you on how to handle the stingrays. I don't believe the tail is dangerous - just the barb. But I have never heard of anybody being injured by a stingray at SRC (although I can't say for sure they haven't). They are very docile and comfortable around the humans who are feeding them.

hudson valley
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3. Re: stingrays

There have been injuries from stingrays, but they're very uncommon. AFAIK, there's never been a serious injury from a stingray in GC.

Stingray tails are a bit like dog tails. They're not used for defense, but there's a slim chance they could whack you with it by accident. Unlike dogs, though, the stingrays don't whip their tails back and forth when they're happy or excited, but you could possibly get hit as one swims by. It's only the barbs that are used for defense and have the potential to cause serious injury. Even then, it's not usually intentional. Stingrays are much more likely to flee when they fell threatened, and the rare injuries that happen (whether in GC or elsewhere) are usually the result of somebody accidentally stepping or falling on a stingray, which can produce a reflexive action. Even when that does happen, the injuries are usually relatively minor, though they can be very painful.

What is much more likely is getting a stingray hickey. Sometimes while feeding them people will get their fingers or hands inside their mouths, because the stingrays suck their food into their mouths. Stingrays don't have teeth, but they've got bony plates that grind their food. The typical hickey is a minor bruise or scrape, but occasionally people get a pretty good scrape or even lose a chunk of skin. The latter is more likely if they get hold of the side of your arm, which might happen if you wipe your hands on yourself after handling the food.

The significant danger that's possible at stingray city or sandbar comes from the moray eels. Like the stingrays, the eels can be very docile, but they've generally got poor eyesight and feed by sense of smell or react to movement. That can result in tourists who smell like the food they've been feeding to stingrays being mistaken for food. Unlike the stingrays, the eels have lots of razor sharp teeth. Being bitten by an eel is also very rare, but will almost certainly guarantee a trip to the emergency room for stitches. There was one particularity bad incident that resulted in severed arteries, 6 hours of surgery in Georgetown, and a $21,000 chartered medical flight home for more surgery to repair nerve and tendon damage. That particular eel had already earned itself the name "Psycho", but still remained a popular show.

That's not to say you shouldn't go ahead and watch guides or other tourists interact with an eel, but the cautious thing would be to keep some distance and not interact with them yourself.

Syracuse, New York
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for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse
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4. Re: stingrays

<-- Owner of a stingray hickey on the back of the hand.

Yes it's the barb that has the toxin, not the rest of the tail.

Whenever I have done the trip the leader has always given an extensive briefing on what is ok to touch and what isn't (both from the point of view of your own safety, but also the comfort of the Stingrays). As The_Steve_From_NY writes, they're not malicious creatures, so you have to do something pretty dumb to get hurt by a stingray.

Not a big fan of the morays, I have to say. For some when diving it's a highlight of a dive to see one, but I would just as soon pass....

Grand Cayman
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for Grand Cayman
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5. Re: stingrays

If you listen to the guide's instructions and follow very simple rules you will have nothing to worry about -- tail whippings, barbs, hickeys, morays, you name it. I have been dozens of times including with small children (my own several years ago and friends within the last month or so), I have been people who were petrified to get in the water itself, with very old people, you name it. I have been with several different ops. All had the same outcome, no one was injured in any way and most agreed it was one of the best days of their lives -- not just the holiday! There is much more potential harm to the rays than to the humans and they don't even get a briefing!

New Jersey
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6. Re: stingrays

Ok thanks for all the info. Are there morays at the sandbar as well? Wouldn't think there is anywhere for them to live there.

Grand Cayman
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for Grand Cayman
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7. Re: stingrays

I have never seen a moray at the Sandbar. I have seen them a short swim away from where the dive boat anchors at Stingray City where there are a few big coral heads. The morays live there in the coral heads and the divers and snorkelers swim over to see them. Free swimming morays rare for the most part unless it is mating season and I think they have better chances in other places than the North Sound.

hudson valley
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8. Re: stingrays

"Are there morays at the sandbar"

It depends on what you mean by "at sandbar". Here's a picture showing a few boats at sandbar and lots of coral nearby:

brendaanderic.com/Cruise2008/…202.jpg

I've never seen a moray while I was right at sandbar and interacting with the stingrays, but I've never been on a trip to sandbar and not seen at least one moray. Typically you can simply swim a short distance to the coral, or the boat will make another stop not far away. It's possible that the guides have become less likely to make sure that people see the morays, but they're in the area, and as long as anyone continues to feed them they'll associate people with food.

Free swimming morays are fairly common at night, since that's when they normally hunt. You'll occasionally see them out in the daytime (I think that Testudo or p59teitel has one in a recent set of photos) in a natural environment, but typically you only see the head and a bit of body sticking out from their hiding spot. When they get used to being fed by visiting divers or snorkelers you can expect them to be out swimming anytime people are present.

FWIW, I've never heard of a moray biting someone when it wasn't in a setting where it was used to being fed. Other than those artificial settings, I've got no concerns about getting quite close when I'm diving or snorkeling. They can look very intimidating, given the sharp teeth and the opening and closing of the mouth (they're just breathing), but they aren't normally aggressive.

9. Re: stingrays

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