Stingray City Sandbar is the number one tourist attraction on our island, and is one of the world’s most famous marine wildlife interaction destinations. While the crew at Silver Thatch Watersports have come to know our stingrays quite well, we wanted to share some of our favorite stingray facts.
Stingrays are actually fish – and are closely related to sharks! Both stingrays and sharks are members of the elasmobranch family, which mean they have five to seven pairs of gill clefts opening individually to the exterior, dorsal fins and dermal denticles, or placoid scales. Yes, both have scales!
This also means that neither have swim bladders, which are typically used to control buoyancy in many underwater species. To make up for this, their large oil-filled livers (sometimes accounting for a fourth of their body weight in sharks) are used to maintain their buoyancy control.
In stingrays, the gills, mouth and nostrils are located on their bellies below. Cartilaginous fish, stingrays have cartilage skeletal structures rather than bones, making fossils more rare than animals with bones.
Stingrays are electrically equipped to be precision hunters. Stingrays are equipped with electrical Ampullae of Lorenzini – basically electro-sensors that help detect both predators and prey, which comes in handy when you go your entire life without the ability to see directly beneath yourself. This complex sensory system comes in handy to protect from predators preparing to ambush from beneath. This is also why you may have guessed they prefer shallow, sandy waters for safety and camouflage.
Watch how it works in sharks and stingrays (2:47):
Stingrays have venom. Used to deliver pain to protect from predators with their barbs, or tail spines, the venom can be deadly to humans but is only used as a last resort self defense. If you’re considering a Trip to Stingray City, fear not.
Not only are the chances of being stung not only very low, but our Stingrays see daily visitors not as foes but as friendly feeders. It’s also highly recommended to employ the Stingray City Shuffle to avoid the possibility of accidentally stepping on one of our Stingrays. By shuffling your feet in the sand, the vibrations will warn nearby stingrays who may be hiding in the sand.
Throughout history, it’s believed that humans have used stingray venom as both a killer; and a pain killer. In Greek Mythology, Odysseus was killed by a stingray barb-tipped spear, tragically by his own son. It’s also believed that dentists in Ancient Greece used stingray venom as an anesthetic to reduce pain during difficult procedures.
Stingray populations are declining globally. While some find the unnatural relationship between humans and our Stingrays to be detrimental through Ecotourism, our community tries our best to support a sustainable stingray population here in the Caribbean.
Conservation laws are in place to protect Stingrays, Eagle Rays and Mantas; and in January of this year, Cayman Compass reported a record number of Stingrays in the North Sound – from a low 57 in 2013, to 113 in 2019.
Ready to take a Private Stingray City Charter? Read about Private Charter packages. The island’s yours. Discover Grand Cayman with Silver Thatch Watersports.