Sep 11, 2006
What A Loss....
The same day that Steve Irwin was reportedly killed by a stingray, we were oblivious, in the Cayman islands visiting Stingray Sandbar. I've done an excursion like this before and found that you can't get tired of it. It's an incredible experience, and few experiences are like it - where you get to swim and interact with wildlife.
First you take a 20 minute boat ride to this sandbar where the water is about 5" deep. The stingrays flock to the boats because they know that boats = free food (squid). Once you get down from the boat, you may feel this large rubbery yet velvety smooth thing slosh by you. They are hungry, and the brave ones hold squid in their hand for the stingray to come and with their strong suction like mouths, vacuum the food away. I attempted that, but wimped out last minute and dropped the squid. The stingrays are peaceful, and I enjoy holding them in my arms as you can see in the picture. We are told not to stomp our feet but to shuffle them. And as one may pass by, I would grab the person nearest and cringe while squealing with delight. They are large, intimidating – but harmless (so we thought).
On the boat ride back to the ship, we heard talk of Steve Irwin being killed that very day by a stingray. Nooo we all kept saying, we couldn’t believe it. Well, back on the ship all over CNN news was the sad truth that yes, Steve the Crocodile Hunter had indeed been killed by a stingray, in the waters of Australia. I just couldn’t believe it. The very same day we were laughing, holding these soft rubbery creatures, the beloved Croc Hunter was killed by one. Not killed by a Crocodile, Shark, or Tiger but a stingray. It almost seemed as if Steve were invincible. He was full of life – he had a strong love for these dangerous creatures and awakened in us a new appreciation for them.
Although the stingrays in Grand Cayman are wild, they are used to people and the boats that come and visit. The numbers that visit daily must be in the hundreds. Unfortunately, Steve was in the deep waters of Australia, where he could have easily been mistaken for a shark or predator hovering. I felt, as the world must have felt – that it was a great loss, and I felt sad for his family.
Would I ever visit Stingray City again? Maybe… But probably with a lot more caution. I do believe it was just a freak accident - that stingrays are peaceful docile creatures, and the one that killed our beloved Steve was just trying to protect itself.