Hanging Out with Stingrays
I was visiting the pelicans on Naples Pier;
the sun was bright, and the water was clear,
I saw a school of stingrays far below,
swimming in The Gulf of Mexico.
Stingrays are flat fish with “wings”
and long, skinny tails with barbs that sting.
Swimming in schools, they stir up sand
to find their dinner of oysters and clams.
I wanted to join the rays…what a fun thing to do!
“Don’t step on them, and they won’t sting you,”
a nearby fisherman advised.
“Shuffle your feet and they’ll move aside.”
I shuffled my feet, and I stayed with the rays
’till the sun was setting at the end of the day.
Hanging out with stingrays was a lot of fun…
I was tired and sunburned, but I didn’t get stung.
I learned that serious injury from stingrays is rare,
but incidents sometimes do occur.
Although I won’t overreact if I encounter a stingray,
I won’t wade with schools of rays like I did that day.
Stingrays in touch tanks have their barbs removed.
Some stingray encounters are sting-free too.
Stingrays enjoy being petted and like to play.
I’d hang out with stingrays at aquariums any day!
Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals III
Environmentally-themed book series for ages eight to twelve
Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia