Stingray show a hit in Kiama

Darren O'Connell and a stingray at Kiama boat ramp on Friday. Picture: Rebecca Fist
Darren O'Connell and a stingray at Kiama boat ramp on Friday. Picture: Rebecca Fist

Darren O’Connell, a new tour operator in the region, has been running a popular stingray show from the Kiama boat ramp on Sunday mornings.

Darren O'Connell runs a free stingray show from the Kiama boat ramp each Sunday morning.

Darren O'Connell runs a free stingray show from the Kiama boat ramp each Sunday morning.

There were 50 people huddled under umbrellas at his most recent show, and 70 people in better weather the week before.

Darren believes there are about a dozen stingrays living in Kiama Harbour.

He hasn’t had any trouble attracting them to the boat ramp – anglers gut their fish there, providing them with a regular source of food.

The friendly rays approach him when he feeds them.

The stingrays eat up to 40kg of food per day, so Darren isn’t too concerned about them becoming dependent.

He’s passionate about educating people, and dispelling myths.

“They get a bit of a bad rap,” Darren said.

“I find them quite friendly and majestic.

“They will only really sting if they’re aggravated or threatened.

“They can pack a punch, but it’s always in self defence.

“They do have a venom sack but they don’t inject venom like a snake.

“Generally people get stung by a different species, the small sandy ones in lakes or rivers.

“The best thing to do is the stingray shuffle, and they’ll move away.”

Darren is both a wealth of knowledge on these wonderful creatures and a strong ambassador for the environment.

The local population is mostly female, weighing up to 150kg and aged up to 40 years old.

“I have a feeling the females are excluding the males from feeding,” he said.

“They just hoover up all of the fish scraps here.”

They also eat crabs and prawns.

Darren advises people not to kill them when they catch them.

For information on other tours you can do with Darren, visit his website.

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