A few years back I went on a Caribbean cruise, and one of the places I visited was Antigua. I used to dive with snorkel and aqualung in the UK, and have snorkelled in Malta, Spain, and the Bahamas, and a visit to Stingray City was a must.
The Stingray City Antigua Snorkel Adventure was the highlight of the holiday, and will live in my memory forever.
I must say I was apprehensive, to say the least, because by then Steve Irwin, nicknamed ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ had died. He was an Australian wildlife expert, television personality and conservationist, who had become world-famous for his daring stunts with dangerous animals. He died aged 44 in 2006 while filming on the Great Barrier Reef in north Queensland.
He was filming an underwater documentary film titled ‘Oceans Deadliest’, and was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb. (The rays sting is bony spine in the tail. It is only used as a defensive tool to protect itself while sleeping or relaxing.)
The guides showed us how to handle the rays so at no time I didn’t feel I was at risk at all. In fact quite the opposite; I found I was intrigued by their gentleness, gracefulness and beauty. I didn’t have anything to fear, the rays at Stingray City were very tame – friendly and gentle. The guides told us that the southern ray is known as the puppy dog of the sea, only looking for attention and a tasty snack.
Secretly, I thought they were only looking for a meal, and thought the boats went out to the rays when they were hungry. After a while, the rays swam away, confirming my suspicions. I continued snorkelling in the warm waters among coral reefs and colourful darting fish
I used my knowledge of diving in the third book of the Fallyn Trilogy, ‘Fallyn and the Sea Dragons’. I already knew that Leonardo Da Vinci had designed swimming fins (flippers) and Alexandar the Great had descended the sea in a glass-dome, so Fallyn and his friend, Merin, could explore the seabed.
The Fallyn Trilogy video