Stingrays: the most misunderstood animal of the sea, and they have copped such a bad rap, but they are actually gentle, inquisitive creatures. I can testify that every single stingray encounter I’ve ever had has been at the very least an enjoyable experience, and at its best a once in a lifetime interaction with a wonderfully inquisitive and gentle marine animal. However, I am shocked that this is not the reaction that all my guests at the aquarium feel when the topic of stingrays come up. I am increasingly concerned that just as the movie Jaws inspired a whole generation to be terrified of sharks, and due to the death of Steve Irwin (as a result of a stingray barb to his heart in a tragic accident in 2006) has instilled an unjustified – but nonetheless real – fear of stingrays. This is despite the fact that stingrays are not naturally aggressive. Of course any animal that is cornered or scared can be dangerous, just as a stray dog can be dangerous if backed into a corner. For this reason I am certainly not advocating that anyone should approach, chase or deliberately touch these fascinating creatures; but neither should they be held in fear – just cautious respect. Stingrays are inquisitive, playful creatures. In my experience, stingrays can be amazingly inquisitive creatures, often swimming by to check out the odd animal (me) then doubling back a moment later for a second and often a third look at this ungainly, noisy, bubble blowing creature. I have had several encounters where I’ve found myself playing with large stingray in manners that reminded me of playing with a puppy. Even while at work (public aquarium) there’s a ray which would swim over to me and gently nuzzle me, investigating exactly what I was, it seemed.
I felt incredibly privileged to be in a position to experience something like this. It’s my hope that with education and understanding we can overcome these fears and learn to accept these beautiful and awe-inspiring creatures for the natural wonder that they are. #worldoceansday #stingrays #amazinganimals #underwaterphotography #saveourseas #inspiration #costarica #isladelcoco #elasmobranch