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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stingrays on Castaway Cay

Entering the water to play with the rays!
Our second time swimming with stingrays was on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. A special Port Adventure is available on the island. Each guest is outfitted with snorkeling gear and given an introduction to stingrays. The guests are then divided into groups before entering the water to gather around a unique "U" shaped floating structure that allows the stingrays to swim onto and be fed/petted by the guests.

The rays pose for an underwater photo. Rays feel smooth and velvety.

Above you can see a portion of the special "U" shaped floating structure. The rays are conditioned to respond to the Mickey shape on the structure. Guests then place the food, which is a mixture of shrimp, squid, and a vitamin/mineral jello substance, on their hands on the Mickey shape. The rays then swim up and with a sucking motion, take the food from your hand. While this is safe, I did feel a few sharp points when feeding one of the rays.

There are about 40 rays and each one has a name. Some of the rays were pregnant and you could see the pups under the skin on either side of the "backbone" of the ray. The rays were very friendly and seemed to enjoy being fed by the guests.

The animal specialists on the island of Castaway Cay file the barbs on the rays. They do not want to remove the barbs, as sometimes strong storms destroy the fencing and the rays are then released into the ocean. Removing the barbs would be detrimental at this point, while filing allows the barbs to grow back.

Each of the rays is tagged and often the rays are found or return after leaving their home during a storm.

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