The North Sound is a prominent bay that changes Grand Cayman from a nice little oval shape into a smaller oval with an L-shaped prong. This is a mostly in focus aerial view of Rum Point. The prominent reef that runs across the bottom of the picture spans the entire sound. Supposedly the alcoholic drink known as the mudslide was invented in Rum Point. In the US, the mudslide has become something between an alcoholic drink and an ice-cream dessert. We didn't visit Rum Point or have a mudslide so we'll leave that as an exercise to the reader.
Here's one fish. Then there's two fish. We'll stop there to avoid a copyright issue. These pictures were taken at a random clump of coral in the middle of north sound. There's quiet a lot of this around but it's all just sort of isolated pockets compared to the reef wall across the top of the sound.
This picture is proof that David's mom, who was previously afraid of snorkelling, has conquered that particular fear. It helps to distract her with colorful fishes.
Here are two parrot fish, one on each side of the picture. David personally chased them halfway across the stupid sound trying to get a decent picture. Melanie also chased them all that distance making frantic underwater gestures at David so that he would take a reasonably good picture of them. Obviously, since this is the picture we've chosen to put online, he didn't succeed.
Aha. A top view of a parrotfish. At least you can see some color in this one. The nice thing about parrotfish is that you can actually hear them eating while underwater. They make strange jerking gestures at anything they want to eat and little accompanying crunches can be heard.
The coral along the reef wall is fantastic. It actually rises right up to the breakwater at the surface. We stopped at several different places to snorkel but if we went back to Grand Cayman, we'd rent a kayak and just spend several hours along this wall.
Elsewhere in the north sound is Stingray City and the Stingray sandbar. This is a vast shallow area inside the sound which acts as a nice natural nursery area for rays. Since several dozen tour boats a day show up to feed them, the adults stick around too and now it's sort of a giant semi-natural stingray zoo.
We purposefully chose a small boat to go out on. There were probably about 15 people with 4 or 5 unwilling to swim with the rays. We also chose a late afternoon tour because the cruise ships in port at Georgetown generally left by late afternoon. There are pictures of 200 people on a sandbar with 4 or 5 stingrays swimming past. We were the only boat in sight and thus got to experience the opposite situation.
Swimming underwater with them was incredible. Actually, swimming wasn't required. It was enough to just hover there and and watch scenes like this.
The stingrays are certainly accustomed to people being around. Here one of them introduces itself to Melanie. Feeding them is generally part of any trip out to see them. Squid is the stingray chow of choice.
Here David's mom has graduated from snorkelling directly to feeding her entire arm to a stingray. The mouth of a ray is on the bottom of their body, so pointing underwater is not a good idea. This is what can happen if you do it.
Now it's David's turn to make a friend. It's vaguely akin to being attacked by a robotic vaccuum cleaner. As you can kind of see in these pictures, it was raining over much of the island while we were out in the sound. Stingrays don't really seem to mind.
Here is our favorite still frame from a short video about a girl and a stingray. This would be the breaking-up scene. Stingrays 'flap' their wings in order to swim through the water or sometimes through people.
This stingray apparently thought that the camera was in fact a squid. This is the closest frontal view of a stingray that we have. The next frame was basically just a white blur.