Seven sharks killed or injured in local waters

| 30/04/2019 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tagged Caribbean reef shark off East End
(Photo by Claire Fletcher)

(CNS): Over the last few months four sharks have been found dead in Cayman Islands waters and another three badly injured. Researchers at the Department of Environment believe an increase in the appearance of the marine predators in local waters is leading to more encounters between them and fishermen. The DoE research team, Shark Conservation Cayman, has confirmed the death of a small silky shark, two lemon sharks and one unidentified shark.

In addition, two nurse sharks were injured and the fate of a blacktip that was being tracked in Little Cayman remains uncertain.

The circumstances surrounding the death or injury are different but in each case it appears the sharks fell victim to either fishermen or their equipment.

The small silky shark became entangled in an abandoned fishing net in Grand Cayman waters and died, while an unidentified shark in Cayman Brac was cut by a sharp instrument. Of the two lemon sharks found dead in Cayman Brac waters, one had suffered severe head trauma and the other apparently died after being fished from the water and then kicked back into it from the dock.

One of the two nurse sharks that were injured on Grand Cayman was trapped in a fish pot and the other sustained a cut to its side. And it is not clear how the blacktip shark that was being tracked using an acoustic monitor was injured but the injury to this shark has been particularly poignant for the team.

Cayman News Service

DoE Shark Project Officer Johanna Kohler tags a blacktip shark (that was recently injured) in Little Cayman in May 2016 (Photo by Tim Austin)

“That blacktip shark was the first shark I tagged when I got to Cayman,” said Shark Research Officer Johanna Kohler. “Shark Conservation Cayman began tracking this shark three years ago and we’ve followed its movements since. We are working hard to better understand our local shark population and to conserve them, so it is frustrating to see these crucially important predators being killed for sport or out of spite.”

Elasmobranchs, the fish subclass that includes sharks, stingrays and skates, are protected at all times in the Cayman Islands. Fishing for sharks, selling their fins or meat, or deliberately harming a shark is punishable under the National Conservation Law by a substantial fine and forfeiture of the vessel and equipment used in the offence.

DoE Manager John Bothwell explained why these marine creatures are so important to us and the need for people fishing in local waters to take extra care.

“Healthy sharks in a marine ecosystem are a positive sign of healthy coral reefs and robust fish populations,” he said. “In recent years, we’ve noted more sharks in the waters around Cayman. That is leading to more interactions with fishermen and an increased number of accidental catch incidents that occur when a shark is attracted by another struggling fish caught on a line.”

The DoE is urging people who fish to release accidentally caught sharks by removing the hook or cutting the line. Sharks do not diminish fish populations nor compete with fishermen, but they do keep fish populations in balance by feeding on weaker, less successful marine specimens, removing them from the breeding stock.

“There must always be a balance struck between the needs of fishers today and the need to conserve marine life for future generations,” said DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie. “But there’s no reason for people to abuse and torture sharks or any other animals that play a crucial role in keeping our underwater ecosystem vibrant and healthy.”

For more information about Shark Conservation Cayman’s efforts to conserve Cayman’s shark population and how you can become involved, call DoE Public Education and Outreach Officer Brent Fuller at 244-5984/922-5514 or email

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes Cayman hates wildlife and the environment which is ironic because both contributed to Cayman’s wealth in the first place. Idiots running the country don’t understand that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Scummy fishermen don’t care. The good fisherman actually cares enough for the sea and sea life to take care of it so it will continue to thrive and they can continue to fish. What these scummy fisherman need is a big wave to take them away.

  3. Anonymous says:

    catching/killing living creatures for fun is not a sport.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If the dinosaurs was still alive we would say the world needs them to survive .

  5. Ron Ebanks says:

    I will say that there’s problems for sharks and fishermen and their gear/nets are their biggest predators .
    I think that DOE must act , but should know how and where to act on the crisis. .
    Fishermen has to be more responsible for the Environment and what is in it . Do we realize how beautiful a shark or any marine creatures are to see in the water and how much some people pay to see them in the ocean .
    I would think that Education and big fines and prison time should fix the problem

  6. Anonymous says:

    Whereas, Alden would have us ask for “alternate opinions” from our newly appointed super experts on everything environmental: Dwayne Seymour, Captain Eugene Ebanks, Gene Thompson, Mark VanDevelde, and Mark Scotland…maybe they’d like to weigh-in on angler cruelty?

  7. Anonymous says:

    The ignorance of so called ‘fishermen’ on these backwards islands never ceases to amaze those of a more educated disposition, whatever their nationality.
    These morons need to understand that without sharks the healthy fisheries they claim to protect would not exist.

    And someone needs to stop that idiot at a certain Antipodean themed restaurant in East Eand from feeding the frigate birds and the tarpon, but inadvertently feeding a large lemon shark that visits on occasions. it is illegal, stop doing it!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    The uneducated do not care. These things need to be taught in your schools. Living here and protecting our environment (that includes the sea) should be taught to your children as a legacy. It should be something to be proud of…

    • Anonymous says:

      There was definitely a visit to jghs a couple of years ago, from the Guy Harvey foundation I think. They were very passionate and knowledgeable about shark conversation. More is needed.

      I’m pretty sure most fishermen here aren’t the idiots that cause people to lump them in the same boat as the debris leaving fools, as it were.

  9. Anonymous says:

    fishermen are pillagers of the sea… and offer nothing back to the environment.
    ban sports fishing now.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      4:56 pm you have 3/4 of your comment right , not banning , educate them and fine and prison if they cannot learn and respect .

      • Anonymous says:

        4:56.. the biggest problem here is indeed the lack of education on our marine life and the Poaching of it.
        This all boils down to Management and enforcement along with more severe penalties. Once you fix those then you will eventually start to see the changes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    In order to save the sharks we must kill the humans.

  11. Savage says:

    fish tea

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman hates wildlife and the natural environment. Concrete and cash are the currency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not too many Caymanians are presently owners of concrete structures or currency neither are they involved in the building of such structures. Everyone of you who play and frolic in the few square miles of our beautiful Caribbean Sea has to take part of the blame. The sea is not too different from on land, overcrowding causes accidents on sea and shore alike. Should the government put in restrictions to regulate and monitor every boat, every person, every fish pot, every piece of line, every piece of drift wood, every bit of sargassum?

      Most Caymanians have a proud history of protecting both our sea and land environment. However in recent years Caymanians have been sidelined in our efforts to do so, partly due to overcrowding and the two headed monster of greed and disrespect.

      • Anonymous says:

        @;1:11pm – Please don’t peddle that BS. The majority of Caymanians could give a shit about animals or the environment. Just look at the accepted animal cruelty that goes on in these islands and the total lack of respect for our natural resources.

        Our expat community cares and does more about animal welfare and the environment more than your average Caymanian. I don’t see many Caymanians volunteering with the many animal charities that we have, nor do they show any respect for our beaches.

        Signed, A Caymanian.

        • Anonymous says:

          Volunteering with an ulterior motive! PR maybe!

        • Anonymous says:

          Well said!

          • Anonymous says:

            You don’t peddle that “foreigner is better bullshit”.

            Those are the main animals that destroy the Cayman environment to build their dream concrete structure on our beaches and in our reclaimed swamps!

            • Anonymous says:

              So right!

              They destroy the womb of our marine life and we argue around the edges about a couple of its offspring.

              They should jail you for your ignorance!

              Certainly can’t fix stupid, can you.

        • Anonymous says:

          Expats walk dogs and collect on Charities. Big deal?

    • Anonymous says:

      3:41 Greedy Foreigners offer cash for Poaching. Easy money, no care of Marine life even though they run Watersports businesses, their restaurants need to supply Conch and Lobster year round. And why are those Sandwich Boards on the edges of sidewalks in EE?
      EE needs an MLA.

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