Stingrays

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingrays

MEET "MUDSLIDE" THE STINGRAY!

Mudslide - any Grand Cayman visitor or resident would immediately think "Rum Point" - the home of the famous Mudslide cocktail which can make the earth slide out from under your feet in the most fun of ways. Their first thought is not usually of a stingray ...

However, any guest who has been out with us or read our reviews, will know that we absolutely adore the stingrays that we see daily at the sandbar, and name the "girls" for their characteristics due to individual colourings, markings and personality.

Some of them are Barbara, Dark Vader and Lilly. But we now introduce another lovely dame who deserves much respect and love - Mudslide!

  Mudslide the stingray giving and feeling the love at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Mudslide the stingray giving and feeling the love at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

The name was earned from mostly visiting guests at Rum Point, but recently she has moved over to the sandbar at Stingray City. Captain Mario estimates her age at approximately 30 years (yes, human years) which we believe makes her the second oldest - Scarface is the oldest one there! 

She is one of the most lovable and sweet girls. Although her skin is a little rougher than most other rays because of her age, she is incredibly gentle when being held, taking food and appears to be particularly fond of children.

She is identified by the darker "ring" of colour around her edges and because her tail has been cut short at the point of her barb - it is not known how this might have happened.

We are loving having her at the sandbar, as are our excursion guests, and we will be keeping an eye open for her to give her extra love and attention which she deserves.

Next to we make it out to Rum Point, we will raise a Mudslide to you lovely lady - may you be with us for a long time to come!

Captains Log, snorkel, Stingrays, things to do

AMAZING SNORKELLING IN GRAND CAYMAN

Coral along the reef in Grand Cayman

July 16 brought on a pleasant enough day in Grand Cayman, offering the the full gamut of tropical conditions throughout the day, which means never a dull moment!

On this day we hosted a private tour for two wonderful guests from the Ritz Carlton. On the itinerary were the ever popular attractions Stingray City Sandbar and Starfish Point, but being great lovers of snorkelling, it was a great pleasure to take them some of the best snorkel sites that can be found along and near the Cayman Reef.

The caribbean waters were relatively clear and showed up splendid colours. Some of the best sightings were of the coral, gorgeous colours along the reef as well as sightings of tropical fish such Angel Fish, Blue Tang and a Yellow Stingray to name a few.

A great excursion which we hope left our guests happy - we know our crew just loved every moment with them and returned feeling all "at one with nature"!

Brain coral - Grand Cayman

French Angelfish against Corky Sea Fingers

Yellow stingray

 Smooth brain coral along the reef

Smooth brain coral along the reef

conch, Stingrays

CARIBBEAN BEAUTY - STINGRAY CITY GRAND CAYMAN

It has been our problem to sit down and write news of our excursions lately, however, we occasionally come across photos which just have to be shared (like the one in the previous post!). So here you go - enjoy - hope that we get to write some news for you soon!

  Stingray City in Grand Cayman - one of the beautiful Southern Stingrays passes over a conch shell at the sandbar

Stingray City in Grand Cayman - one of the beautiful Southern Stingrays passes over a conch shell at the sandbar

Excursions, sunset, Stingrays

SMOKY STINGRAYS IN GRAND CAYMAN

Our last two posts have described the effects of tropical downpours on the sandbar and surrounding waters of the North Sound in Grand Cayman.

We always say that there is never an ugly day in the Caribbean - even storms provide the most magnificent skies to behold. Not nice for island visitors for sure, but beautiful nonetheless.

It is always our pleasure to take photos of our tours and shares these with our guests free of charge, and the snorkel sites, Starfish Point and stingrays provide awesome subjects. 

Yesterday we hosted a standard tour in the morning, welcoming guests from the Carnival Victory and the Marriott Resort and other condos, whilst the afternoon was reserved for a private chartered tour. It was a brilliant day all round, even if the sun was somewhat shy.

The photos of the stingrays came out with unusual colours and smoky effects. We loved them, wanted to share them with you, and hope that you like them as much as we do. Happy day to all!

 A stormy sunset ..... quite spectacular .... Cayman Islands Yacht Club

A stormy sunset ..... quite spectacular .... Cayman Islands Yacht Club

 Grand Cayman attractions
 Grand Cayman attractions

Captains Log, Stingrays

11 March 2015 - WELCOME BACK OLD FRIEND!!!!

  Welcome back old friend ...... "Ray Charles" gets hugged at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Welcome back old friend ...... "Ray Charles" gets hugged at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

They say real friends are the ones that you don't see for a long time, and then when you do, it's like there was never any time apart ...... you just pick up and carry on from where you left off.

And so it was with this beauty known as "Ray Charles". She has not been frequenting the sandbar for a very, very long time - it has been a couple of years since we last loved her up. She has very beautiful dark colouring, very close to that of Dark Vader. But where Dark Vader is frisky and youthful, Ray Charles is presumed to about 30 years old and is a lot calmer and way more stately.

Sadly, she is blind in one eye and has a huge cataract in the other, and there had been some concern about her (some had reported seeing her at the Deep Stingray City although we could never be sure). So what a delight it was to have her showing up yesterday afternoon for our private charter guests - she was amazingly affectionate, and our island visitors had a tough time leaving her behind.

We can't wait to see  her again, and she has no idea how heart warming it was for the crew to see her again. We will be catching up on kisses Ray Charles!

Stingrays

STINGRAY SANDSTORM

During a snorkel stop on one of our recent tours, Captain Mario was fortunate enough to capture one of the stingrays going under cover ..... below is the sequence and the end result. I think they look like they are dressing up like ghosts for halloween when they do this, and it never fails to raise a chuckle from me - I find myself waiting for them to say Boo!

  Going, going, gone ..... mostly

Going, going, gone ..... mostly

Stingrays do this for three possible reasons - resting, eating or hiding. At the sandbar, we often see one or two of them buried in the sand, and presume that this means they have had enough handling and want a break from the visitors. We respect this and leave them alone.

Stingrays are opportunistic eaters, meaning that they lie in wait for their next happy meal to come on by. Obviously, their food recognises them, and the stingrays create these sandstorms to cover themselves until the unsuspecting victim happens by. Shrimp, squid and other sand dwelling molluscs form a part of their diet, and the ray's mouth is perfectly situated at the underside of the body in order to suck up these tasty morsels - and quite a suck they have too!

Below is a video that the awesome Michael Maes has on his YouTube channel which shows some of the sandbar stingrays eating Lionfish heads, and it is quite clear how they suck up the food.

 

The last reason the stingrays may be doing this is to hide from predators. In the North Sound in Grand Cayman, they do not have to deal with a lot of predators, but a Hammerhead shark has been seen recently, and this shark is one of the stingray's worst enemies. The barbs are not removed from our stingrays, so they retain their natural defines system, which is only fair. Hope we host you soon!

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingrays

3 March 2015 - Catch up!

It has been some time since we posted news - we can't believe that the year has already hit the 3rd month! We also cannot believe how much wind we are still experiencing and since we last spoke, there have been days of triumphant tours interspersed by days of cancelled excursions (and the accompanying disappointment and grey moods)!

 Things to do on Grand Cayman

 

Cancelled tours means that we, as a family, have some time to spend together and be social - a rare and precious gift during high season, and we have greatly enjoyed the Cay Dance Festival as well as the Red Sky at Night Festival. Cayman Brac celebrated their Agricultural fair the weekend just past, and on Friday 27th, a superb fund raising evening was held at the cruise terminal to raise money to rehabilitate the enormous area of coral destroyed by the Carnival Magic's anchor. Some $27,000.00 dollars was raised during the evening, and the island has today been excited to hear that Carnival has donated $100,000.00 towards the recovery efforts which have so far been carried out by volunteers and local dive companies for free. If you would like to follow more news on the recovery efforts, the Facebook page is Cayman Magic Reef Recovery.

Monday saw Captain Mario standing on the stingray sandbar with the water reaching just up to his calves - a sure sign of turbulent weather to come. We were proven correct, with yesterday's tour being a tough one with choppy weather. The cruise ships arrived late, and this factor on top of high swells mean that we had miss Starfish Point - always disappointing for our guests. But they were awesome and soldiered on and got their fair share of kisses from the willing "girls" at Stingray City.

But we have been constantly delighted to see "Barbara" at the snorkel sites when we have managed to get out there, and she is always wearing her Mona Lisa smile. We hope that she has brought wonderful memories to our island visitors, and hope to share her with many more! 

 Things to do on Grand Cayman

Captains Log, Stingrays

3 February 2015 - GLUM DAYS BUT BRIGHT SPIRITS!

Our last post showcased a video of a glory day in Grand Cayman ..... now you can see a really glum day in the caribbean! 

  A glum day in Grand Cayman

A glum day in Grand Cayman

Tour Time : 9:30am

Guests from : MSC Divina Cruise Ship, Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort, Coral Stone Club Condominiums

Star Stingray : Lilly (Dwayne's favourite)

No Shows : 0

Talk about 50 shades of grey .... and none of them particular saucy! We woke to grumpy skies and cheeky winds which stirred up the waters and lowered the temps!

Kudos to our awesome guests who turned up despite this - they were determined to have a good time, and we were determined to make that happen. So nice to have "Barbara" the stingray back in circulation again - she went missing for a short while, and were concerned for her - she joined us both at the snorkel site as well as at the sandbar.

  Close up of "Barbara" - Captain Mario's favourite girl!

Close up of "Barbara" - Captain Mario's favourite girl!

The clarity of the water at the snorkel site was good though, and our excursion guests had a good time admiring the coral and tropical fish, and were thrilled at the company of some stingrays. Captain Mario managed to some lovely snorkelling photos for our visitors, and we hope they they keep the memories alive for a long time - come back soon, you hear?!

 Snorkel Grand Cayman

snorkel, Stingrays

31 January 2015 - GO AWAY, HUMAN BEING!

Tour Time : 10:30am

Guests from : Aida Bella Cruise

Star Stingray : Kim

No Shows : 0

Tough conditions today for our excursion guests, but kudos to our guests for getting out there and giving it all they could!

Captain Mario found a sleepy stingray during the stop at the stingray site. The stingray found his presence somewhat annoying, gave him the hairy eyeballs and moved on - and Captain Mario got it all in pictures which was pretty cool.

It looks like tomorrow's tour is to be cancelled due to worsening conditions. Again. NOT COOL. Let's hope we can get everyone out there on Monday.

Have a super weekend!

Sleepy stingray ..... NOT impressed with being disturbed (snorkelling in Grand Cayman)

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingray City, Stingrays

28 January 2015 - BARBARA'S BACK!

  "Barbara" and her Mona Lisa smile - welcome back!

"Barbara" and her Mona Lisa smile - welcome back!

Tour Time : 9:30am - left at 10am - read all about it!

Guests from : Carnival Breeze Cruise, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Brilliance of the Seas - cancelled visit

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 0

High and lows today! The day started off rough - literally - not the best of conditions, with quite high winds blowing in such a way that the Brilliance of the Seas cancelled its visit to the island, and Carnival Breeze decided to drop anchor at Spotts - which is on the other side of the island to the normal cruise terminal. Can you imagine the consternation this can cause - all the tour operators racing out to Spotts trying to find their guests ...... Captain Mario did a sterling job of it, but the tour left late as can be expected under these conditions.

With the ship now anchored in Spotts, it was unfortunate that we had to leave Starfish Point out of the tour - not enough time to do this AND get them back to the ship on time. But now for the good stuff....

snorkel-excursions-grand-cayman-28011502

Over the last week or so we had been missing the Captain's favourite stingray Barbara. The crew and office staff were becoming a little tense about her disappearance. It must be remembered that the Cayman stingrays are in open water - they are not closed in any manner. Barbara was also born without a tail, which of course, is the stingrays defense against predators. But JUBILATION! Today, while at the snorkel site, there she was - all smiles and cuteness, playing with our guests and flirting up a storm. Happy phone calls were made to the office to let everyone know Barbara was back!

grand-cayman-stingrays-28011503

The other great part of the day was the awesome caribbean sunshine - the ocean was gleaming with emerald and sapphire colours, so even though the surface was choppy - the colours were delicious!

Snowflake did the honours today, kissing our guests with great abandon and hopefully leaving them with lifelong memories. We always hope that our "girls" turn each visitor into a stingray ambassador. These beautiful creatures are fished to extinction in some parts of the world - their "leather" used in fashion pieces and their flesh sold as scallops. We get cold shivers thinking about this truly hope that guests of the sandbar start moving against these practices.

Everyone made it back to ship safe and sound and on time, and we can't wait to share these photos with our guests - we hope they all come back soon.

And welcome back Barbara - you had us really worried girl.

  Mwah!!! Snowflake wins another admirer!

Mwah!!! Snowflake wins another admirer!

Captains Log, private tours, rum point, starfish, Stingrays

18 January 2015 - Private Chartered Tour in Grand Cayman

Tour Time : 9:30am

Guests from : The Ritz Carlton - Grand Cayman - private chartered tour to Stingray City Sandbar, one snorkel stop and a visit to Rum Point

Star Stingray : A newcomer - to be named

Each day, our tours present our crew with so many variables - we have island visitors from all over the world, arriving by cruise ship or plane, coming on vacation, for work or perhaps a destination wedding - no day is dull and each tour is special. Throw into that mix the fact that nature is always a surprise and you will understand why the crew love their jobs.

But, we have to admit, that some excursions simply defy words. On these days, everything goes according to plan - the weather is awesome, the timing is perfect, the caribbean ocean surprises us with more of her beauty and the stingray kisses are even sweeter than normal. Today's tour was one of those ......

It is far simpler (and probably way more effective) to let the photos do all the talking, so that's just what we'll do! Enjoy!

Excursions, Captains Log, Stingrays

14 & 15 JANUARY 2015 - GRAND CAYMAN EXPEDITIONS

RASTA HAS A GIRLFRIEND!

Guests from : Celebrity Equinox, Carnival Breeze, Norwegian Epic, Carnival Magic, Laguna del Mar condos

Stingrays : (New comer to be named) and Stumpy

  Enjoying some snorkel time in  Grand Cayman

Enjoying some snorkel time in Grand Cayman

There is such a wonderfully giddy vacation feeling around the island - the sun is out, the wind has tamed down into a cool caribbean breeze, the first post-christmas pay-day has hit the accounts and all is good....

Even Rasta has found a girlfriend! Rasta is a brown pelican that our crew have been noticing around Starfish Point lately - and yesterday they noticed that he now has a female feathered friend. What a lovely way for him to start 2015 - obviously, Captain Mario has been commanded by the office to now get a photo of the loving couple! Don't know if she is as pretty the Miss Cayman Islands contestants, but am sure Rasta thinks she is.

Our tour guests have been a great, fun and adventurous bunch and we have been delighted to welcome them to the island and share the splendours of our snorkel sites.

Every now and then, we endure a sudden disappearance of a large majority of the stingrays from the sandbar. It is ghostly without them, and we think we know why this happens, but cannot yet prove it. The usual "girls" were nowhere in sight, but along came a new comer - Captain Mario believes this one was probably from Deep Stingray City - but she was nonetheless an absolute charmer. Looking for a name for her now....... The disappearance only happens for a day or so, and everything gets back to normal within 24 hours!

  Tandem stingray delight at the Grand Cayman sandbar

Tandem stingray delight at the Grand Cayman sandbar

All in all just another two magnificent days in paradise ...... thank you so much to our visitors - we hope that you will can be lured back to Grand Cayman for another excursion with us soon!

Snorkel, Captains Log, Stingrays

8 - 12 JANUARY 2015 - WHAT A WEEK!

BLEH!

These past few days have not been the highlight of our year so far ... weather was tropically moody and in some cases, bad enough for us to cancel tours AGAIN! We mentally banished the Cayman weather to the naughty corner for some time out ....... today appears somewhat better - let's hope it worked!

Nonetheless, we have had the pleasure of great company and enjoyed visitors from all over - cruise guests included NCL Epic, Carnival Dream, Carnival Splendour, Navigator of the Seas and Caribbean Princess. Some of the overnight guests includes those from hotels and apartment such as the Marriott, Sunshine Suites and Plantation Village.

  The family that snorkels together ...... Grand Cayman snorkel excursions

The family that snorkels together ...... Grand Cayman snorkel excursions

The Coral Gardens proved to be the best snorkel site for the prevailing conditions. Water clarity was good if not perfect and our excursion guests enjoyed their time with the accompanying stingray while marvelling at the abundance of tropical fish. Captain Mario still avoided Starfish Point on some of the tours due to the continued presence of jelly fish - and of course, the first day he decided it was safe to go back, was the only stung by one!

Dwayne, our 1st Mate and otherwise known as the "Stingray Whisperer" had a flirty moment with one of his favourite stingrays "Snowflake" and Captain Mario managed to catch some photos of their interaction which is very beautiful. We are very pleased to see that "Frosty", who was looking rather skeletal and ill at one stage, seems to have recovered with a little bit of extra help from our crew. She is now looking absolutely gorgeous, chubby and happy!

  Snorkelling with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Snorkelling with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Stingrays, stingray city

12 JANUARY 2015 - STINGRAY WHISPERER

This is a title which makes our 1st Mate Dwayne act like a teenager in love ..... he gets a little twinkle in his eye, acts kinda shy, his face lights up with a special grin and then you can see his mind has gone off to swim with the "girls" ......

There is no denying that he has a very special way with the stingrays who are the star attraction at Grand Cayman's famous sandbar where we take our tour guests to meet, feed and even kiss  them.

While Captain Mario is a complete sucker for "Barbara" ("Dark Vader" is being mentioned a lot more these days too!), Dwayne's heart is shared by "Snowflake", "Kim" and "Lilly". He is fiercely protective about the ladies, and wastes no time in correcting anyone who is not treating them with the respect they deserve. But if you REALLY want to see Dwayne at his best, you gotta see him helping the kids kiss his girls ...... his gentleness and patience is palpable, and his face literally beams ..... we think he will make an awesome Grandpa one day!

Yesterday, Captain Mario got the chance to capture some of the interaction between Snowflake and Dwayne - a little dance and little bit of playing hard to get, but in the end, always giving each other reciprocal affection. We hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Snorkel, Stingrays, private tours

28 December 2014 - Chartered Tours in Grand Cayman

Awesome, awesome private tour today!

What an absolute pleasure it was to host this fun and adventurous group! We collected them at the Kaibo Yacht Club (this can be done for chartered tours and in select other circumstances), and it was sunny smiles and laughter from the get-go.

Their choice of attractions to visit? Some of the best in Grand Cayman of course. First stop on this excursion was the Secret Garden - a beautiful spot that Captain Mario has discovered with prolific coral and tropical fish - today Barbara joined us and brought along 3 other stingrays with her including Stumpy (a name earned because of her very short tail). We managed to get some stunning photos of the children interacting with them, and we hope these images will be with them forever.

Along the way, we agreed to find some conch for our guests - as stated in a previous post, we no longer retrieve conch on our standard tours as we feel they have been over harvested and their numbers are now so low. However, we have made exceptions to this policy for our private tours (if requested).

  Stingrays play ......

Stingrays play ......

  Stingrays rest ......

Stingrays rest ......

This time we left the best for last! Stingray City Sandbar was incredible and we arrived when no-else was there. Pure vacation bliss! Just us, the Caribbean Sea and the stingrays all round, eager for squid and kisses. 

It was a sad but fond farewell at the end of our time together, but we sincerely hope to host our new friends again in the not too distant future. Till we meet again!

Stingrays, snorkel, barbara

SMILEY

  The ever-smiling Barbara snorkel with us yet again

The ever-smiling Barbara snorkel with us yet again

That smile of Barbara's never seems to fail! Since all the topsy turvy tropical weather we have been experiencing over the last few weeks, Barbara has taken it upon herself to visit us during our visits to the various snorkel sites. We were used to seeing her occasionally, but she has been joining us for the majority of our excursions lately - and what a pleasure for our tour guests (and Captain Mario who favours her the most)!

You are just awesome Barbara - we absolutely adore you!

Stingrays, stingray city, Lilly

LILLY & DWAYNE AT PLAY .....

They say photos never lie (except when overly photoshopped!), but we think this series of images taken at Stingray City in Grand Cayman clearly show the love that our "Stingray Whisperer" and 1st Mate has for the stingrays! These photos show "Lilly" frolicking around our tour guests, and then swimming straight into the arms of Dwayne - and you can see the delight on his face ...... and then the snuggle and kisses .......