Day 274 on the Road
Stingray Reef Tour with Dive Tatapouri
Today we are joining Dive Tatapouri for feeding wild stingrays in Gisborne! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand then head on over to our epic YouTube Channel!
So today we’re going to be feeding some wild stingrays.
This morning we left Gisborne super early and we went up north about 15 minutes away from the town to witness one of the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen in my life. Gisborne is well known for its sunrises because it’s actually the first city in the world to see the sunrise every single day and Laura and I are popping out the bubbles and watching is happen right before our eyes.
The gorgeous sunrise is not the only reason to wake up this early on a morning in Gisborne. We’re here at 6.30 because this is the time of low tide and the best time to join Dive Tatapouri on their Reef Ecology Tour.
As soon as we strap on some waders, Alex our guide is taking us out to sea. It’s kind of a really weird feeling to be walking out to sea. I mean, for this kind of things you guys us doing it all the time we’re usually take a boat.
Walking toward the sea is actually quite treacherous the water bed is actually really slippery because there is a lot of rocks it’s not just a sandy walkway so it takes a lot out of us to not be slipping and falling into the water and according to Alex it does happen regularly.
As soon as we make it away a few metres off shore we are soon surrounded by water life it’s absolutely incredible the amount of species that are swimming around us as soon as we stop walking it’s hard to focus on one thing rather than another for a little bit.
We have two types of stingray which are swimming around us which Alex tells us about. We have the short tailed stingray and the eagle ray. First the short-tailed stingray is the largest type of stingray in the world and one of these big guys right here weighs up to 120kg. In fact, they’ve been known to weight up to 350kg which is absolutely massive and when those guys are pushing up against you we can really feel it.
And that’s why we’ve been each equipped with a pole so we feel more stable in the water while the stingray are swimming up against us and we are creating a human wall so the stingray can’t swim in between us either and that way can watch the stingray behaving in their natural environment without having to fall over.
Watching those stingray launch themselves onto Alex is quite amazing they have massive strength and honestly if we didn’t have those poles we would definitely knock someone out even someone as tall and big as I am.
But what’s really fascinating is to hear Alex give us a bit of personality about each of the stingray that we are encountering. Because he comes here every morning he gave them each nicknames and he knows them very well. He’s able to tell us be careful this one is gonna start charging you or be careful this one is gonna start swimming in circles around you it’s quite amazing to see personality among something that i consider just a fish.
In fact, Alex treats them a little bit like pets. He tells us where to scratch them on the back of the head on the back of their tail and it’s really fun to see that happening right before our eyes but we have to be careful we can’t leave our hand in the water for a little bit too long because those kingfish have very sharp teeth and quick reflexes and if we leave our hand in the water for a little bit too long we maybe off a finger or two.
When we’re not trying to avoid the kingfish, Alex is showing is how to feed the stingray. We are each given a piece of barracuda to put underneath the bodies of the stingray cos actually their mouths are underneath their bodies and that way they can such the piece of fish out of our fingers like a vacuum. it feels really really weird.
As the tour goes on we realise that this is definitely one of the more unique wildlife activities that we’ve done in New Zealand so far. The stingray are super friendly and not as dangerous as some people might think. While we were on the beach before Alex wen through where it’s safe to pet them and where we shouldn’t touch because yes stingray do have a long venomous sting which they only use if they feel threatened and the stingray are not aggressive whatsoever. They allow us to feed them and we really have an awesome time with them.
The other types of stingray that you can see in the water with us is the eagle ray and this is named because they majestically glide over the water in an effortless motion much like an eagle would soaring through the sky. And they’re really awesome to look at as well they don’t push up against us like the short tailed ray does but they just glide on by taking a few food along the way. And they’re really awesome to watch as well.
It is possible to see other types of wildlife on these tours which we don’t see today but on other tours you might be able to see travalli, kawai, crayfish, octopus, and even eels in the water with you as well.
Those stingrays are absolutely fascinating and Alex is telling us lots of facts about them and one of the most fascinating facts about stingray is that they have electromagnetic sensors all around their bodies which helps them locate prey around the sea especially any under the sand so that they can such them out and eat them with their big smiley mouth of theirs and that also helps them sense our heartbeats. And when we are feeling calmer more stingrays are coming around us because if our heartbeat is going really fast and we are really stressed and excited this may present a threat to them.
One of the really fascinating facts about stingrays that Alex tells us is about their nose.did you know that stingray have noses. It’s called the rostrum and that helps them sense food all around the surroundings so this is one of the reasons why they’re here because we keep on dumping food right in front of them to feed them and so as soon as one of them smells food the other one smells food and it’s a bit of a frenzy feeding around us a bit like a shark around a dead seal and in fact, their stingrays are on the same broad species than sharks that’s another fact that we learn from Alex.
It’s rather incredible how friendly and pet like those creatures are as soon as Alex starts telling us that we need to leave they start gathering around us and being begging for more petting and just pushing themselves onto our legs its incredible how they sense that and also how funny it is I did not know that actually feeding stingray could be that much fun. It feels like just meeting a new puppy at your friends place.
As we start making our way back to shore the tide is getting higher and higher it’s getting almost above our waists making it a bit harder to walk and we can definitely see why this tour is best done at low tide. Also those kingfish and stingray are following us back all the way to shore and like robin said, it is like when you go round to your friends house and their’s dogs being really affectionate and following you around that’s because we don’t have any dogs and we go round to friends house for such things but it does make marine wildlife something that we can relate more to and we definitely have a greater appreciation for stingray and marine wildlife in general after this tour.
We are now heading off to the rest of our adventure on the East Cape of the North Island and we have heaps to visit.
There is also some eagle rays which are much smaller much thinner.
No the eagle ray is the big one.
We swim with stingray in Lochmara and that was the wrong one.
Yeah that was the eagle ray.
That was the stingray.
I’m gonna double check. I don’t think, I can’t double check. i don’t think that’s right.
Please go check.
Sorry can you come here and say that to everybody. Dammit.