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!!!

The 2011 sea turtle nesting season has come to an end. The season started off with a bang. We had our first nest on May 5th which is pretty early for our area. We are not used to seeing our first nest until later in May. Also, early in the season we had a report of a turtle nesting on Indian Shores at around 11:30 am.

nesting

Photos taken by some out of town visitors showed that it was a Kemp’s Ridley nesting in our area, which has not happened since 2002. About two weeks later the same Kemp’s Ridley showed up again to nest on Clearwater Beach. Kemp’s Ridleys are the most endangered species of sea turtle; one reason for this is their daytime nesting behavior. When I received a call at 4:30 pm about a nesting turtle on Belleair Shore on June 29th I hurried out there and expected to see our Kemp’s Ridley one more time. When I arrived, I was surprised to find a slightly confused Loggerhead that did not want to wait until the sun went down before laying her eggs. Then, after a great start to the season, nesting activity slowed down quite a bit and we ended up with 89 nests for the season.  Our first hatchlings emerged from their nest on May 30th and 86 babies made it to the water that night. The last nest hatched on October 4th with 95 babies making their way out to sea. We had a total of 5,974 hatchlings making it to the water with the help of many very hard working volunteers and interns. Thank you for all your help. I am already looking forward to next season.

There has never been a better time to visit Winter and Clearwater Beach! Book your stay with one of our Premium or Preferred Partner hotels or resorts to receive CMA tickets, discounted rates or special offers and you will be helping Winter too! Each accommodation provides a portion of the proceeds from your stay to CMA to help build Winter’s new home.

clwrbeach

Clearwater is not only home to Winter and her resident animal friends but also the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast, world-class accommodations, fun family-friendly activities and amazing sunsets. Come See Winter Today!

In September, CMA began its expansion project by starting to build its surface parking lot to the east of our main facility on Island Estates.  On the west side of the Aquarium, construction has begun for a brand new Education and Administration/Animal care building and a rehabilitation area that will triple our capacity to care for injured marine animals.

construction

While all this is going on in Island Estates, we have also leased from the City of Clearwater the second floor of the Harborview Center, the former convention center in downtown Clearwater.  We are converting the 54,000 square feet of space into a second venue that will be built out with props and scenes used in the filming of the Dolphin Tale movie.  There will also be some educational elements in this facility explaining our mission and how we do our work as well as a gift shop.  It is our intent to open this experience to visitors by November 18th.  A shuttle service will be available to take visitors to and from the downtown venue and our main facility on Island Estates.

harborview