A dive site and sandbar off the coast of the Grand Cayman island. Approximately 2 miles off the opposite coast of Seven Mile Beach, Sting Ray City is also within 500 feet of the North Wall (the reef of Grand Cayman). An extremely beautiful dive site, Sting Ray City (and Sandbar) is famous for several features:
1) The dive site was created in the 1980s when fisherman would discard the innards of fish in the North Sound after the gutting process. The stingrays became used to the free food and subsequently remained at the spot.<\p>
The stingrays also mate at the nearby reef, so the sandbar and surrounding area is a convenient place to survive and thrive.
2) Since it is also a sandbar, the water is only 3-6 feet in depth, allowing any tourist with basic swimming skills to literally stand in the middle of the ocean with tens of stingrays swimming at their feet.
3) Swimmers can feed the stingrays, usually with fish guts or squid.
4) The area provides the opportunity to observe a variety of marine life, including Moray eels, parrotfish, and angelfish.
5) The stingrays are amazingly passive. They allow vistors touch touch them and even pick them out of the water. The only potential hazard that the stingray poses is a venomous barb at the base of its tail. The stingray cannot use this barb in an aggresive manner. It is simply used in a reflex mechanism if the stingray is stepped on/mishandled.
In recent years, the huge popularity of Sting Ray City has made it a cash cow for the Cayman Islands tourist industry. The daily human contact has caused a great deal of concern among environmentalists. The main problem is the use of stingrays by tour guides in a traumatizing trick known as a "Sting Ray Hat". The stingrays are lifted out of the water by the guide and placed behind the heads of tourists. A photgrapher is usually on hand in the water to snap a quick photo of the tourists. While guides claim this treatment is not harmful for the animals, environmentalists claim that this trick is dangerous and soemtimes fatal. There is current (as of Jan 2004) lobbying in the Cayman Islands to have the practice of "Sting Ray Hats" banned.
Sting Ray City is incredibly popular. No one knows what the human impact, if any, will be on the stingrays as time progresses.