Captain Carl Crustacean, Sport Divers's resident old salt and self-proclaimed marine biology expert, receives a call from his adolescent nephew: Captain Carl! You won't believe what I did in Grand Turk - I fed the stingrays.You mean Grand Cayman, don't you, Billy?No, this was at a little island called Gibbs Cay, right next to Grand Turk. We went there for a barbecue and snorkel with Sea Eye Diving, and they let us feed the stingrays. Man, they were incredible. Big gray things, like stealth bombers, but underwater.Ah, Dasyatis americana.What's that?Just the scientific name, Billy.Oh, right. Anyway I was scared at first. I mean, they are called STING-rays, aren't they?They have a barbed stinger about one third of the way along their tails, Billy, and yes it can inflict a serious wound. It's very rare for a diver to be stung, though. Stingrays use their stingers as a defensive weapon, often against sharks that try to eat them. Most humans are stung on the ankle when they step on a sleeping ray by mistake in shallow water.Couldn't they see the ray? These guys were hard to miss. They came right up and let us touch them.Normally they rest during much of the day, Billy, and to avoid predators they bury themselves in the sand.Yeah, well they were out and about that day. They gobbled up everything we had.You fed them something natural, I hope?Gee, Captain Carl, I don't know, what do they eat?Mostly they eat fish and invertebrates that live on the bottom, or even buried in the sand.You mean like crabs and snails?Right! But how do they find them? Their eyes are on top, you know, and their mouths are on the bottom.They have sensory organs on the underside that allow them to detect prey, then they suck them into a pair of fused jaws and crush them.Yeah, they said not to get your fingers caught in there. Anyway, we gave them the conch.That's good, they probably eat small conch naturally.We didn't give them much, anyway. Most of it went into Smitty's incredible fresh conch salad! Well, gotta go. Bye, Captain Carl, talk to you after the next trip!Not if I have caller ID by then, thought Captain Carl.
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