If you wander down to the Hamelin Bay Jetty or the boat ramp at Hamelin Bay , you will notice black shadows moving through the water close to shore. Don’t panic they are just the friendly stingrays who have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. I would avoid patting them though ! But if you are keen I have heard they don’t mind posing for the occasional photograph. Some brave souls even like to hand feed them.
The locals normally post signs on the jetty during school holidays to let everyone know that the stingrays are friendly and are not to be harmed. The sign also has a message requesting fishermen to release any stingray caught in nets or fishing lines.
The best time to see these fascinating creatures is when the fishing boats come into shore, as the stingrays like to feed off the scraps left by the fishermen. This happens usually early in the morning or late afternoon. If in doubt just give the Hamelin Bay Caravan Park a ring.
Popular Stingray Slaughtered
In 2011, stumpy, the most friendliest stingray in the bay was slaughtered by two fishermen. Horrified families who witnessed the spearing could do nothing. The area is open to recreational fishing and the stingrays are not protected.
Following the death of Stumpy and public outrage , the Department of Fisheries released this statement –
“The department, when possible, discourages people from killing stingrays at Hamelin Bay. In this case, the spearing of the stingray was an unfortunate incident that occurred as a result of someone being ignorant of the history of the presence of the stingray at Hamelin Bay and the local community’s attitudes and conservation values.Stingrays are not a protected species and can be speared, or taken with a line, in Hamelin Bay.” – Narelle Towie Environment Reporter, The Sunday Times, February 12, 2011
A petition to have the stingrays of Hamelin Bay protected was signed by over 600 people following the tragic event.
On Saturday 25th February, 2012 it was announced-
All wild stingrays and skates frequenting the popular Hamelin Bay tourist spot are totally protected under new regulations.
The Myalup Stingray
In Myalup (a few hundred kms up the coast) they also have a friendly stingray known as Charlie. You can always tell when Charlie is in the area because you will see people running from the surf screaming “shark”. Locals find this mildly amusing as they tell the terrified tourists not to worry it is only a stingray (though many don’t think that is anymore comforting).
Having come across old Charlie several times I am convinced he enjoys scaring the tourists.
There has been three recorded deaths in Australia due to stingrays, including Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, who died in 2006 after a barb punctured his heart. The only other known stingray deaths in Australia were in c.1930 and 1988 and those too were as a result of a direct sting to the heart. It is believed that there has only been 17 fatal stingray attacks worldwide.