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Diving the Cayman Islands

Taking a break from our work on Cayman Islands, an afternoon of swimming and diving with the Stingrays seems like a great idea. Suited up and onboard our chartered boat, we are on our way for an unparalleled experience.
 
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Southern Stingrays on Cayman Island
About this image: Floating effortlessly
In a large area known to occasionally be visited by Southern Stingrays, we wait for the first signs of the approaching Southern Stingrays. Their venomous tails string out behind them as they flap and undulate their wings, gliding through the water like alien craft approaching the Mad Dogs. In all shapes and sizes, we have hit the jackpot and soon there are Southern Stingrays everywhere to be seen by our camera.

Information: Most stingrays have one or more barbed stings (modified from dermal denticles) on the tail, which are used exclusively in self-defense. The stinger may reach a length of approximately 35 cm (14 in), and its underside has two grooves with venom glands. The stinger is covered with a thin layer of skin, the integumentary sheath, in which the venom is concentrated. A few members of the suborder, such as the manta rays and the porcupine ray, do not have stingers.

Stingrays are common in coastal tropical and subtropical marine waters throughout the world, and also includes species found in warmer temperate oceans, such as Dasyatis thetidis, and those found in the deep ocean, such as Plesiobatis daviesi. (source Wikipedia)
 
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Stingray encounter on Cayman Island
About this image: “Look! Let’s try out some Dog treats!”
We are submerged in an experience like nothing else. Completely captivated by the larger Stingray, staring deep into the probing eyes, I failed to notice the smaller Stingray as it came over and proceeded to wrap itself around my leg like an affectionate pet. Snooping around for a snack, the bottom located mouth acts like a giant underwater vacuum, searching for a scent of squid snacks and sucking, with great force, whatever is in the neighbourhood. We are advised by the Captain of our private chartered boat that “Stingray hickeys” are commonly received from overanxious Stingrays latching on and sucking on a flat surface, such as our backs or an exposed stomach. “Okay, let’s not get too affectionate…”
 
Another Southern Stingray on Cayman Island
About this image: “Look deep into my eyes… You are getting sleepy…”
Whoa, this stingray is trying to hypnotize the Mad Dogs and bring them back to their kingdom as prizes… Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t hold our breath so long underwater. This Southern Stingray was floating and hovering mid-water, looking like a pet, standing-up, begging for a treat, posing for a photo. It is amazing to watch these creatures float and move so utterly effortlessly through the water, a quick flick or small ripple of their wings and “swoosh”, they fly off at amazing speeds and with incredible dexterity.
 
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Stingray encounter on Cayman Island while snorkeling
About this image: “Yo, give me a hand…”
The feel and texture of a Southern Stingray is unlike anything you’d expect. Able to swim at great speeds and with incredible dexterity, we expected the flesh and muscles to feel hard and firm, however it’s not. Silky soft, flexible and more reminiscent of a large portabella mushroom, the experience is extraordinary. These great and docile creatures are willing to allow you to almost cradle them in your open arms as their muscles slowly undulate and ripple their large wings. An afternoon of diving with Southern Stingrays near Cayman Islands has provided The Mad Dogs with another experience unlike anything we’ve ever done.

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