Top 100 Things I’ve Done – #30

Top 100 Things I've Done Add comments

Swim with sting rays.

The boat we were on dumped about thirty snorkeled and finned tourists into crystal clear water off the coast of the Grand Cayman islands. The water was shallow enough to stand. Everyone quickly found their own space among the hundreds of giant sting rays swarming around us like birds gliding in slow motion. They were so tame and not at all intimidated by everyone’s flopping splashing and yelling. Some of the bigger ones had to be at least fifty pounds. When I put out my arms they would swim right into them. I picked one up just above the surface of the water and stared into their eyes. We inspected each other briefly before he shifted his weight and swam off with a slow grace. The tour operators assured us the sting rays would actually not sting or bite. At worst they may attempt to suck on our skin looking for food. Well I found out they suck pretty hard, and it may as well have been a bite. One of those guys sucked the blood right through my skin! The water streaked red from my elbow and I was left with a very impressive sting ray hicky.

Holding and getting a hickies from sting rays is probably the most intimate experience I’ve ever had with wild creatures. Things like this help keep me in touch with the natural world. And having been on a massive floating resort all week, it was a grounding relief.

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