DoE working on clearer rules for handling rays

| 20/07/2018 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

Stingray being manhandled for a photo

(CNS): The Department of Environment is currently conducting research with stingray experts that can help them draw up clear and definitive guidelines on how the marine creatures can be safely handled. Following another flurry of posts on social media about the treatment of rays at Stingray City, animal activists have been questioning how watersports operators are getting away with what many see as inappropriate and even abusive handling of the animals at the Sandbar. 

Numerous pictures posted and re-posted online over the last few days show both recent and old images, raising concerns in the community that some guides are lifting stingrays out of the water for photo opportunities and to entertain visitors in ways that may be causing the creatures serious distress. There is no indication when these particular images were taken, but they are just some of the photos that have stirred up debate, once again, on a number of local animal groups’ Facebook pages.

Cayman News Service

Stingray being lifted out of the water at Stingray City

Given the challenge posed for enforcement officers over this type of behaviour, a DoE spokesperson told CNS that the department is engaging in discussions with scientists that have expertise in elasmobranchs, the class of species that the stingrays belong to in order to determine the potential harm to the animals from various types of interactions and what might be safe and acceptable. The goal is to create clear guidelines and science-based information for watersports operators.

The DoE pointed out that some of the pictures posted recently are definitely cause for concern as they depict actions the department believes are unacceptable. The marine conservation regulations already prevent people in the wildlife interaction zone (WIZ) at Stingray City from removing rays or other marine life from the water.

Cayman News Service

Stingray being lifted out of the water for a photo

“We publish this fact on our Marine Parks Brochure under the descriptions of the rules that apply to a WIZ and have included the line: No removing any wildlife from the water,” the spokesperson said. “The problem is that there are currently no consistently published guidelines on interactions with rays to the point that defines what is ‘removing a ray from the water’.  It is therefore proving difficult to prosecute unacceptable interaction.”

The DoE hopes that the research now underway will determine the potential harm to rays taken out of the water for a few moments or what might be safe and acceptable when it comes to handling stingrays.

“Once this is established, there will be clear guidelines issued to the public and, most importantly, all watersports operators for acceptable and forbidden methods of handling stingrays. This should produce directives which, if breached, would result in successful prosecutions under the law,” the spokesperson added.

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Category: Business, Marine Environment, Science & Nature, Tourism

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    they seem to hate it oh wait they always come back and never run away. you place them back in the water and they stay right with you. If they did not like the way they are being handled wouldn’t they just swim away?

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      To anonymous 8:59 am , I am the first one that started the stingray city at the sand bar back in the 1970s . When I started throwing all my fish and conch scraps in at the sand bar , there was nothing there except sand and water , and after awhile the stingrays appeared, and Mr Ron Kipp brought National Geographic down and it became stingray world wide . It was the food that attracted the rays to the sand bar , and if everyone stop feeding them , they will leave. The man handling of the rays is cruel and shouldn’t be done , you can go there and enjoy them without handling them . Can you go to any other attractions in the world and handle their animals that makes their attractions ? NO. How would you like if people handled you all day everyday year long ?

      I would say again from seeing the photos of this article , that the way some people are treating the stingrays, is cruel and stupid and shouldn’t be done . And DOE and everyone else shouldn’t tolerate it no longer .

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      I am just curious to know , if you can still find live sand dollars in the sand at the sand bar ? If you push your foot into the sand and moved it along you could feel and find them .

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      CNS can please send these photos to DOE of the above article, and ask that the matter of handling of the stingrays be addressed today .I am very hurt / disappointed to see that the cruel stupid behavior of people still continues today quarter century later . And I urge everyone to get behind CNS in having this addressed , and start thinking about the preservation of all natural aspects of the marine ecosystem .

      Remember that you are not for me , YOU would be doing it for YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN , THE FUTURE .

      CNS: To be fair to the DoE, this is an article about what the department is doing about this. I think what’s needed is for people to support the DoE by letting your local MLA how you feel about it and demanding action from them.

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      • West Bay Premier says:

        CNS , I agree , but DOE has been talking like the article states for long time , and everything just continues . I think that the people needs to get serious with these government departments and politicians , or there are going to be nothing left of the marine ecosystem , that needs desperate attention today .

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    • Anonymous says:

      @8:59 They know if they stick around they may get fed in an area that protects them from sharks. Try that with a stingray anywhere else and see what you get. How much abuse does a house pet take that “wild versions” would eat you and crap you out for. It’ll just take one irritated ray to be picked up and for it to whip someone and stingray city has a dangerous rep and a tourist attraction risks being boycotted. What a moronic statement. Same statement applies to spouses that are habitually beaten but stick around. By them doing so makes it right? Stupid assclown, think before you type next time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    … and not a peep out of the Department of Tourism, either. Not a word, nothing, nada.

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 4:26 pm , that’s the gods truth, not a peep out DOT .
      I guess that they think that the stingrays aren’t important to tourism, and they don’t have to support DOE do anything to help protect the stingrays. I haven’t heard a peep out of DOT on the crime issue too . But that is destroying the Islands and the Tourism .

      I have to believe that the government and the Departments has become so political that it’s pathetic .

  3. Anonymous says:

    What you don’t see here are the times when the stingrays strike back. Apparently hospital treatment for stingray hits is not exactly uncommon but staff there have been told not to talk about it. I know of one Honduran guide who took a barb right through his side.
    ..

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  4. Anonymous says:

    No worries.

    Soon someone will be killed by a Stingray sting provided by a frightened Ray.

    That will scare off the tourists in this terrible industry.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    What happened to no commercial vessels on Sundays at the sandbar? What happened to limits on the number of tourists on any given day? There are other very popular attractions in the world that limit visitors, why not us?

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    • Anonymous says:

      1:32 That is a prime example of what you would call a lack of enforcement and management of the Wildlife Interaction Zone. Over the years the sandbar and the stingrays have taken so much pressure by people handling and littering not to also mention the boats rushing in to get the best spot. Some of them actually running up onto the bar and getting stuck only to leave big holes in the seabed whilst trying to get off. There clearly needs to be some form of protection and limits put in place or else we will end up losing it.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Station a DoE officer at the sandbar during peak hours and ban any boats that are caught abusing the rays. The place is seriously over crowded so banning the douchebags will benefit everyone!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    so we have all the evidence we need with videos and photos…now what action will be taken against the handlers???
    this cayman…so the answer is nothing…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Starfish at the point, significantly lower numbers, people taking them out of the water for photos, more educational signs needed.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    How clear is this – don’t handle them! That was what DoE tried to do a few years ago and the boat operators just ignored it.

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  10. Cess Pita says:

    Just prohibit anyone deliberately touching them. If they want to manhandle marine life take them outside the reef amongst the sharks.

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  11. West Bay Premier says:

    About time that DOE started acting on the issue of handling of the stingrays . I have been telling DOE that needed to be addressed from the 1980s , but I am happy to see that it is urgent today .
    From the photos of the above article , I would say that some people should be band from the sand bar , because they are treating the stingrays just like they treat and care for their dog . NO RESPECT .

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    • Anonymous says:

      I know how to fix this. Someone should station themselves at the sandbar and when they see someone doing this crap, go over and without their permission, push their head underwater for a minute so they can get an idea of what the stingray went through.

  12. Anonymous says:

    what about turtles being handled several times a day? I wish turtles would grow spikes or some poisonous fluids like frogs.

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