Stingray Touch, Shedd’s outdoor touch exhibit home to cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonas), is back for the summer and its tenth annual season. Guests can connect with the soft, supple animals in a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience for a closer connection with nature and wildlife.
During the experience, guests can discover how Shedd cares for the cownose rays as well as other interesting facts about the unique species while reaching into the tropical waters to gently touch the back of a ray. Cownose rays are tactile animals—they naturally school together, brushing up against each other while swimming. This social behavior makes them a perfect fit for hands-on encounters at Stingray Touch.
Guests also have an opportunity to help feed these flat, pancake-like fish by adding a Stingray Feeding for $5 ($4 for members).
With this add-on to the experience, guests can feed these bottom-feeders a seafood treat and watch them gently bump against each other and their fingers. Feeding is available when Stingray Touch is open, with feeding times between 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Guests can see a Shedd Team Member to add this experience. Children who choose to participate in a feeding must be older than 6.
Cownose rays are renowned for their marathon mass migrations. Each autumn, as their summer waters as far north as southern New England start to cool, schools numbering thousands of rays seek warmer habitats in the southern Caribbean, including Venezuela and Brazil. In the Gulf of Mexico, schools of as many as 10,000 rays migrate from the waters off Florida's west coast down and around to Yucatan. These rays are also found along the coast of West Africa. Moving in huge numbers offers protection from predators such as hammerheads and great white sharks.
Guests can also come eye-to-eye with cownose rays at the Caribbean Reef exhibit. Tiger rays, yellow rays, mangrove whiptails and spotted rays are other stingrays that reside throughout the aquarium.
VISUALS: See below for a link to downloadable photos and video of Stingray Touch:
Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin
Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez