Mexico City – Mexico's Xel-Ha Caribbean ecotourism park is using sound to attract rays, leading the creatures to play and interact with tourists.
Visitors can enjoy the "Ray Encounter" this summer at the park, located in the Riviera Maya, taking advantage of the opportunity to interact with the animals, Xel-Ha said.
"This species is found widely in the coves and we have been working with them for eight years so they will respond to sound stimulus and will voluntarily go near the activity site and interact with visitors," the ecotourism park said.
Visitors can touch the rays and play with them for 30 minutes under the supervision of a group of trainers, who provide information about the animals' feeding, reproduction, anatomy and habitat.
"At the end of the activity, visitors can kiss them and get a 'massage' from the rays," Xel-Ha said.
The program's goal is to teach tourists "the difference between enjoying marine species through a glass wall in an aquarium and being able to touch and co-exist with them in their habitat under conditions that are completely free," the ecotourism park said.
Xel-Ha Aquatic Institute biologists examine the rays living in the area periodically and remove the parasites plaguing them, and they even treat the cataracts commounly found in the animals' eyes.
The biologists treat any wounds found on the rays, Xel-Ha said.
Xel-Ha is owned by Grupo Xcaret, which operates the Xplor and Xcaret ecotourism parks in the Riviera Maya.
The marine park also provides visitors with the opportunity to swim with manatees and dolphins, scuba dive, go snorkeling, walk on the sea bottom, go to a spa and explore mangroves, sinkholes and underwater caverns, among other activities.