Stingrays find an easy meal at Chaddy's place

01:23, Jan 28 2013
stingray stand
Chaddy's Charters crew member Bo Marsh fees a stingray at the tourism operator's boat ramp.

A hand-fed meal of fresh fish is just the ticket for four friendly stingrays.

New Plymouth tour boat operator Dave Chadfield, of Chaddy's Charters, said he had been feeding the stingrays from his boat ramp several times a week for longer than he could remember - maybe about 15 years.

The four rays - Blackie, Sootie, Junior and Flatmate - come to his Breakwater Bay business at high tide most days for an easy meal.

The leftover heads and skeletons of fish caught on the daily charters went straight to the rays, he said.

"We fillet the fish when people come out with us and what we do is throw the backbones and heads in the water."

The Taranaki Daily News caught up with Chaddy and crewmate Bo Marsh, 15, during feeding time with the rays.

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Fresh kahawai heads and some trevally skins were the order of the day.

Like bees to honey the rays came cruising in to shore.

"The'll come right up your arm," Chaddy said.

"They're harmless, unless you go lying on them like the Aussies do."

The biggest ray, Sootie, which had a 1.5 metre wingspan, would be more than 15 years old, he said.

In 2006 Australian crocodile hunter Steve Irwin died when a stingray pierced him in the chest with its tail spine while he was snorkelling at Batt Reef, Queensland.

During his days as a charter fisherman Chaddy said he had been impaled by a stingray barb on two occasions. The pain was excruciating, he said.

Despite this Bo said she wasn't at all scared of the stingrays.

It was difficult to describe what it felt like having a stingray take a morsel of kahawai out of the palm of your hand, she said.

"They kind of just suck it up out of your hands," Bo said.

A pod of orca once came up and fed at the Chaddy's Charters ramp, he said. And a blue shark named Blue Boy also used to be hand-fed until one day a boy caught it on a fishing rod and stabbed it to death, Chaddy said.

Taranaki Daily News