GUIDELINES FOR THE STING RAY FEEDING EXPERIENCE
For an overall fun family experience, feeding the sting rays is definitely a great choice. Adults revert to childish exuberance and children have an experience they will not forget.
There are a few guidelines and warnings for the feeding the sting rays:
a. Small children cannot swim with the rays. This becomes a possibility when they try to climb the pool walls and lean over as much as possible. Sting Rays do NOT want to share their pool.
b. Adults should not do Groucho Marx imitations while holding the fish between their fingers — unless they are prepared for the eye rolling and groans from their spouses and offspring. I think I spotted a Sting Ray rolling its eyes too.
c. Do not come near the tank if you do not appreciate the sharing of their water. Milo is the most generous in this matter.
d. Do not feel the need to be prim and proper and/or adult like during the feeding time. The return of childhood glee occurs for most adults unless they are complete grumps.
e. Remember that watches, bracelets, cameras and cell phones give the Sting Rays indigestion.
f. Do not wear “dry clean only” apparel. Salt water is not a favorable method of dry cleaning — You will get wet!!
g. Finally, and most important, have a great time!!!!
The methods for feeding the fish gobblers are quite easy:
a. The Groucho Marx Method—stick the fish between your two fingers and hold it down in the water so the Sting Ray can come on top of your hand and vacuum it from your fingers.
b. The “I am a coward and do not want any missing fingers” Method—put the fish on your fist and lower it in the water for the Sting Ray to come on top of your hand and suck up the fish. Not as much fun but it works.
c. If you observe the hungry fish mobsters tapping their fins on the side of the tank, do not be alarmed. They are complaining about the service and want fish NOW. If this warning is unheeded, be prepared to be splashed!
Fascinating Facts about CMA Sting Rays:
a. Unless Panama and Winter donate their pool, there will be no Mantra Rays at CMA. They reach wing spans of up to twenty nine feet across. Swimmers and boaters are fooled into thinking they have seen as shark because these tricksters will stick a portion of their fins out and it will look just like a shark fin—music from Jaws will not be playing !!!!
b. The six thousand gallon tank holds the Cow Nose and Southern Rays. Milo is the largest, followed by Spot. The “Mob” includes Stripe, Gilligan, et al. Point of interest question by a seven year old: “Do Cow Noses moo?” Answer from the Animal Behavior Staff??????
c. Three Cow Nose Rays can also be seen in the large tank with Thelma and Louise who do not rob from the fish but have been known to taste a few.
d. The small tank housing the baby Sting Rays share the Dolphin Deck where Hope is. While no hands are allowed in their tank, this reporter did coax a few to come over by talking to them. NO, I do not speak “Sting Rayese”.
Trivia Information About Sting Rays:
a. They cannot be heard giggling when they splash staff or visitors.
b. Warning: They will not be ignored. For those who ignore this fact: Be prepared to be wet—VERY wet.
c. With a “come hither” slap on the side of the tank, you are being warned about wanting to take notice of them
d. They enjoy being stroked on their fins which is soft and silk-like.
e. They do NOT want to be patted on their heads.
f. Their mouths are on their underside and are vacuum-like when they feed. They do not do “please or thank you” while being fed. How rude!
g. Their mouths are located underneath and there are seven series of flat teeth located on their dental plate. That’s dental plates not denture plates!
h. Their barbs are periodically clipped at CMA to prevent any injuries—Remember to do the Sting Ray Shuffle at the beach to avoid being stung.
i. The holes/circles on their heads are not their eyes. They are spiracles and prevent them from drowning. These allow the ray to draw oxygenated water from above and then the water is expelled through the gill slits on the underside.
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT TO REMEMBER ABOUT FEEDING THE STING RAYS OR PETTING THEM—HAVE FUN!!!