Friday, January 8, 2016

Stingray

A stingray at rest...

No, not the classic Corvette...

During our day trips to the local eco-parks of Playa del Carmen we encountered a few stingrays while snorkeling. The creatures are attracted from the ocean and into the lagoons with the promise of free food, but they are otherwise free to come and go as they choose. They are related to manta rays, but, unlike mantas, they have whip-like tails equipped with barbs and venom.

The particular specimen above was about two to three feet across. As soon as I approached, it swam to the bottom and tried to bury itself in the sand by vigorously flapping its "wings".

They achieved notoriety when one killed Steve Irwin -- Australia's popular Crocodile Hunter -- a decade ago. He was swimming over the creature while filming it and it flicked its tale at him in a defensive gesture. It wasn't the venom that killed him though. It was the physical trauma done when the barb punctured his heart.

Normally they are passive creatures. The ones that enter the lagoons of the eco-parks have been habituated to humans to the point that they allow themselves to be handled and fed by visitors. Still it was a bit surprising there were no signs advising visitors to exercise caution when around them.

A stingray lying in wait... for ???

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