Capt. Marvin Ebanks,
Stingray City Pioneer
Stingray City started as a lunch stop for both fishermen and stingrays.
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The Founder of Stingray City
Every island has its living legend. On Grand Cayman, it's Capt. Marvin Ebanks, pioneer of famed Stingray City.
Starting with a borrowed sailboat, Capt. Marvin took his first tourists to snorkel the North Sound hotspot in 1951. These many decades later he still makes the same trip, 6 days a week, manning the helm and fixing a marinated conch lunch for his several dozen daily guests.
Here's how Capt. Marvin says he helped Stingray City get started:
"I used to go there as a boy, fishing with my father. Early in the morning we used to stop there and clean the fish and throw out some food for the rays. I was 15, so it was over 70 years ago.
"There were all kinds of rays then, eagle rays, leopard rays and manta rays but after it got a lot of people the big ones left and went deep.
"Our first few tourists came in sailing boats from Florida. They would drive around the island for a while and then wonder what else there was to do.
"I suggested they come out in my boat. There were lots of lobster, conch and fish, and we started making lunch on the beach. We didn't have masks or snorkels.
"We used what was called a 'waterglass' (a container with a glass bottom) and what we'd see down there we'd dive it up. A couple of other people started doing trips around the same time as me. They're dead.
"At first way back yonder I used to go around the hotels and tell people what I did. I'd go around until 10 or 11 o'clock at night. There were so many mosquitoes at night back then I could grab them in my hand.
"I'm not saying you could grab a handful, but you could grab them in your hand. I nearly died from malaria. I think malaria killed one of my uncles and two of my aunts and a friend. I was young and fought it off.
"Stingray City, in about the late 1980s, started getting a bit crowded. When the cruise ships came, then you could call Stingray City a real city because you could find a thousand people there.
"It now sometimes gets so crowded you can hardly anchor. Progress is a thing that's hard to stop. I just hope it don't get anymore crowded.
"I keep doing this because I like it. And I have a lot of repeat customers. I've been doing this so long that if some people come on the boat and I'm not there they're disappointed. Some of them have been going out with me for 31 years.
"I don't know how long I'll keep doing this. This is all I do except go to church. I treat myself right. I don't drink, don't smoke or run around. I take care of my body. I'll probably stop only when the good Lord says stop."
Capt. Marvin's Aquatics is still going strong. Call 1-345-945-6975. Website