January 25, 2018

Meet Stacey the Stingray

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to interact with dolphins and beluga whales in the past, but I’ve never had the chance to get up close and personal with a stingray before. It’s been on my bucketlist for some time and I was determined to check it off the list in the next few years. Little did I know that the opportunity would present itself MUCH sooner than I’d ever imagined.

Image taken by Balmoral Island.

Preparing for our tour

Balmoral Island is just one small piece of land geographically known as “Discovery Island” just north of New Providence Island.

It just so happens that Kevin and I could easily see the island from the beach at our resort – the Melia Nassau Beach All Inclusive. Yup… it was literally across Delaport Bay from Cable Beach. You can imagine my excitement knowing that we were only days away from interacting with the stingrays.

After the first two days, we began to experience some cooler weather on the island including high winds (~50 km with gusts) and random bursts of rain. You’re probably wondering, “what would you define as cooler weather?” After two beautiful days of 40C, our weather was mostly overcast skies and some high winds for the remaining 6 days (with some short bursts of sun here and there). When I say high winds, I mean ~50 KM winds including the gusts. Even with those winds, it was still 23ºC and warm!

Since our tour required a boat pickup at Prince George Wharf, we began to worry that the winds may result in our tour being cancelled due to choppy waves. Luckily, our tour wasn’t cancelled!

Let the encounter begin

Image taken by Balmoral Island.

After arriving to Balmoral Island, Kevin and I made sure to check in for our tour and become familiar with the island’s small buildings. After 30 minutes, we made our way towards the stingray enclosure to begin the debrief. We were expecting the dolphin encounter to be busy and we weren’t surprised to find a large group waiting at the debrief. However, we were one of two couples that chose the stingray encounter and we weren’t upset about it at ALL. Do you know what that means?

It meant more time for interacting, feeding and learning about the species!

Between the two of us, Kevin was the first to enter the water before I began to follow into the deeper sections of the stingray enclosure. We began to adjust to the water’s temperature  quickly and slowly made our way forward as the stingrays began to swim closer. I’ll never forget the softness of their skin as they swam around us, acclimatizing to our presence in their enclosure. Justin, your wonderful guide, began to explain the procedure with feeding and the best ways to do so through a demonstration.

Enter Stacey

Image taken by Balmoral Island.

This is where the belle of ball had her moment to shine. Her name? Stacey the Stingray! Justin, who works closely with Stacey and the other stingrays, gave us with a background on the species and a breakdown of their features. We had the opportunity to the see the infamous “smiley face” on their underside, as well as the chance to hold her carefully for photos. For anyone who’s planning on visiting these beautiful creatures, you can never give enough belly rubs. No word of a lie, Stacey loves getting her “belly” rubbed underneath her pectoral fins.

I was nothing short of ecstatic with the tour and happy to finally have the opportunity to encounter one up close. After finishing our encounter, we immediately went to the photo building to pick up our photo packages – which we’d purchased in advance. While it’s a bit of a fee to have the photos, we didn’t want to leave without photographic evidence of our time with Stacey and the other stingrays.

How many of you would jump at the chance to experience this? Tell me below and share why you want to interact with these beautiful creatures!

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- Lilly Pulitzer

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