Imagine stepping into the shallow, azure blue waters and feeling the soft white sand beneath your feet on Grand Bahama Island. Look around to observe the stunning marine life lying just below the surface. You will quickly find yourself surrounded, not just by small and colourful fish, but an array of curious and inquisitive stingrays. More than a romantic dream in this beautiful island, Keith Cooper and his West End Ecology Tours will introduce you to the best places to explore the rich variety of life beneath the sea.
Photo courtesy of West End Ecology Tours
Fondly known as the stingray whisperer across Grand Bahama Island, Keith has been working with stingrays for more than 12 years. His company, West End Ecology Tours, is a sustainable ecology tour company dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the area's natural resources. His signature "Stingray Experience Tour" provides visitors with a chance to appreciate the personal bond Keith has nurtured with his stingrays for more than a decade. It is an opportunity to safely interact with these misunderstood sea creatures in their natural element. In a conversation with Keith, he mentions that there is no magic formula to attract these stingrays. It takes time to bond and what helps is, rays have a remarkable capacity to remember, and they feel comfortable with him. Keith has named some of these rays according to their colourful and perplexing personalities. There is "Hugger," "Big Momma", "Dark Chocolate," "Scarface," and "Lunatic," to name a few. His relationship with some of these rays dates back as much as 12 years. What makes the tour different from others is the intimate experience of feeding and getting to know these stingrays. This truly off the beaten path adventure takes place on a deserted island or a shallow water cay. The tour doesn't take more than six people at a time, and before stepping out of the boat, Keith explains the guidelines and rules to the visitors. This makes the tour an entirely safe, memorable and ecologically sustainable experience for the visitors. The number of stingrays that participate on tour could reach up to 16. After establishing their presence, visitors are allowed to touch, feed and even snorkel with the stingrays toward the end of the visit. This provides a fantastic opportunity to see the stingrays flap their wings as they glide like "angels" through the water. It ensures that each visitor has an up-close and intimate encounter with a misjudged "angel" of the sea. Visitors complete the tour with a great deal more knowledge about these lovely and friendly creatures. The experience of snorkelling and feeding these stingrays is something every person will remember for a lifetime. West End Ecology Tours is ranked five stars on TripAdvisor.com as Keith and his team take extreme care not to exploit or overfeed the animals. This is an educational tour carefully crafted taking considerable precautions to protect wildlife. A short distance from the cay is a sunken boat wreck in 8 feet of water. The wreck is filled with thousands of fish and marine life — perfect for nature lovers, fishing enthusiasts and snorkellers! Remember to check out West End Ecology Tours when you are planning your next visit to Grand Bahama!
ABOUT THE BAHAMAS With over 700 islands and cays and 16 unique island destinations, The Bahamas lies just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, offering an easy fly away escape that transports travellers away from their everyday. The Islands of The Bahamas have world-class fishing, diving, boating and thousands of miles of the earth’s most spectacular water and beaches waiting for families, couples and adventurers. Explore all the islands have to offer at www.bahamas.com or on Facebook, YouTube orInstagram to see why It’s Better in The Bahamas.