SEATOUCH, which allows people to get up close and personal with stingrays, is back.
May 2 saw the rebirth of SEATOUCH at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan in Garapan, this time under the aegis of TanHoldings Corp.
SEATOUCH, a marine animal experience that allowed people to interact with stingrays and sharks, was in operation in 2015 under the Baldyga Group but its operation got blown out of the water by the onslaught of Typhoon Soudelor. That did not stop Jerry Tan, president of TanHoldings, from reviving this tourist attraction.
“I feel that the CNMI is a beautiful tourist destination and that we need to add more attraction for tourists and residents. Since we already started SEATOUCH, I wanted to make sure we do not lose it so I asked a team to make a study to bring it back,” Tan said.
Ivan Quichocho, TanHoldings vice president, said in his welcome speech that the SEATOUCH experience is not offered anywhere else in the region. The closest one like this would be in Jamaica and the Bahamas.
“We should all be proud that this is available in our lovely island and be boastful of this offering that is unique to our island destination,” said Quichocho.
He promised that, aside from playing with stingrays, SEATOUCH will very shortly—“within this year”—offer an interactive experience with sharks.
People should expect to see many changes with this relaunch. SEATOUCH’s marine animal consultant, David Foster, said: “We saw the weak points, we saw the mistakes so we made them better. Aside from the new stingrays in the facility, we have four of the original pink whiprays and one of the original sharks before the typhoon.”
The interaction with the 13 stingrays is guaranteed safe. “Swimming, petting, and playing with our stingrays is safe. They are well-trained and we removed the barbs from their tails. They are gentle creatures. Their skin is soft and delicate and they do not have a fishy odor. Also, one of the unique features of SEATOUCH is that the facility is located in the ocean and not in an aquarium. So the stingrays are in their right and natural environment,” said SEATOUCH operations manager Rommel Catalma.
SEATOUCH is operated by a staff of eight and guests are guaranteed that the interaction will be supervised by experienced marine handlers.
“Our handlers are trained and holders of first aid and lifeguard certificates. At any given point, there’s a lifeguard watching over the facility during the interaction and when guests are in the facility. We want an environment that is not only safe for the stingrays but for the guests as well,” Catalma added.
Ed Arriola, head of Sales and Marketing for SEATOUCH, said, “We are excited about the relaunch…because this also gives us the opportunity to tie it up with another brand, Let’s Go, an off-road adventure, mountain and trail off-road biking. That way, customer can go to the mountain then come down to SEATOUCH and play with the stingrays.”
SEATOUCH also aims to be an educational experience. “Besides tourism, this would also be educational for tourists and residents. We invite local residents, young people, students to come, enjoy and learn from the interaction,” Tan said.
The schedules of interactions are 8:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. For information and booking, call SEATOUCH at 233-7297 or 287-4985.