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Touch Stingrays at the Adventure Aquarium's New Stingray Beach Club

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Stingray Beach ClubThere is something awe-inspiring about aquariums that no matter what age, it’s bound to bring a smile and a dropped jaw. The Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ is a prime example. Sharks swim over top of you. Giant sea turtles come right up to the glass. And you can see hippos floating majestically from an under water vantage point. The aquatic animals are so close to you, so incredible, you just want to reach out and touch them! So why don’t you? 

The Adventure Aquarium recently opened a new exhibit space where you can see, touch and feed sting rays! Stingray Beach Club is a huge exhibit space with a pool encased in a three foot retaining wall. Inside the pool live four types of stingrays: Southern Stingrays, Cownose Stingrays, Leopard Whiprays and Yellow Stingrays. Southern Stingrays are by far the largest, measuring in with six foot wing spans! The Leopard Whipray follows the Southern Stingrays with a 4.5 foot wingspan, then the Cownose at 36 inches. The Yellow Stingray, on the other hand, is the tiniest with only a 14 inch wingspan!

The exhibit is setup so that people of all heights can reach in over the retaining wall and touch the stingrays as they circle the enclosure. There is even a small section just for children to enter and have an up close and personal experience with sting rays without adults lumbering over them. 

Stingray Beach ClubThe best part of the experience is getting to feed them. Stingrays have a unique feeding ritual where their mouths basically act like vacuums sucking up small pieces of fish as they swim by (their mouths are underneath them). At the Adventure Aquarium, you can take a piece of fish (as long as you’re not grossed out by small, dead fish pieces) and hold it out for a sting ray to dine. The key is to hold you hand out flat, fingers tight together so that the sting rays don’t mistakenly nimble you instead of the fish. The stingray will then swim over you and enjoy the fish! 

Don't be afraid! These stingrays are quite gentle, used to humans, and would need to be extremely provoked before they would sting you. There was a lot of commotion over the death of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, which has been reported as a "one-in-a-million" event. A stingray would need to be threatened for its life before it would even start to lash out at someone. Certainly not if you were offering it a free meal and a gentle pat!

The Stingray Beach Club is open now and is included in the price of admission.  You can buy tickets online or at the door at the Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Drive / Camden, NJ 08103. Phone: 856-365-3300

Photos: Trevor Reynolds