Stingray injured by boat at sandbar

| 04/12/2019 | 58 Comments
Cayman News Service
Stingray being lifted from water at Stingray City (Photo supplied by DoE)

(CNS): Just a week after one local watersports owner warned of the dangers presented by overcrowding at Stingray City, the Department of Environment confirmed that a ray was recently hit and injured by a boat there. The department also posted on its social media pages what is believed to be a very recent picture of someone holding a stingray out of the water (see photo above) and urged people to stop abusing these animals.

The DoE has issued warnings on several occasions about mishandling the stingrays, which remain the star attractions in the Cayman Islands for many visitors. Earlier this year the DoE issued a press release after a spate of reports about the mishandling of animals around local waters.

The DoE team pointed out that animals can be severely injured by mishandling. DoE Deputy Director Tim Austin said, “Wildlife Interaction Zones (WIZs) were developed under the NCL specifically to permit individuals to safely interact with wildlife in our wonderful marine environment, not abuse it.”

Government also recently revealed that the new coastguard agency will be taking over enforcement at Stingray City and the tourism ministry is considering a moratorium on licences.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (58)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    DoE Deputy Director Tim Austin said, “Wildlife Interaction Zones (WIZs) were developed under the NCL specifically to permit individuals to safely interact with wildlife in our wonderful marine environment, not abuse it.”

    Oh does he now?

    Well perhaps he would like to tell us all exactly what he and his fellow managers/directors are doing about it, apart from giving out hand wringing statements that are no longer acceptable to those who really care. Doe is an absolute disgrace, especially in its ability to actually enforce the law effectively. However, I suspect that has more to do with ineffective management than it does the actual marine officers on the ground, as anyone who has met any of their management would testify. If you question any of these so called managers, (especially from enforcement) you just get a stream of labored excuses and blindingly obvious BS which isn’t based on the reality of the situation, of which they appear to have negligently ignored for so long.

    It is obvious that the doe isn’t currently fit for purpose when considering enforcement of the law. It fails to properly enforce clear cruelty laws such as lifting stingrays or starfish from the water, even though it states in the NCL that ‘protected’ creatures, under the term ‘take’, means: collect, hunt, kill, destroy, damage, injure, disturb, harass, harm, wound, capture, molest, or impede a live specimen.
    So why aren’t doe enforcing that law? Obviously lifting a fish or starfish from the water so that it’s gills are clear will cause distress to the animal, as it would if you put a human head under the water.
    The injuring of stingrays by boats on the Sandbar due to illegal anchoring in less than 3 feet of water and allowing propellers to destroy the seabed, (and any creature near it) because they are too shallow are further examples of illegality, bad practice and negligent behaviour, that can be stopped.

    Doe management must know they have a problem here, the law has been inforce for at least 3-4 years and this question must have arisen. So why hasn’t it been implemented to stop this barbaric practice? And if the law is unsuitable, then why hasn’t is been updated?

    I’m sorry Mr Tim, you are part of the problem. Your failure to enforce existing laws and to seek amendments where necessary is shockingly negligent. Your failure to employ enough staff, (and to properly manage them) and to equip them appropriately has left them vulnerable to claims of dereliction of duty and probably open to personal harm. If doe management want to be taken seriously as the guardians of our precious environment, they need to wake up and deal with the undoubted irritation that is growing on a daily basis. No more flimsy excuses, no more blame game, no more weak enforcement, just do your damn job and do whatever it takes to ensure Cayman can protect its treasures for the future.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are the rays trained not to sting? Normally a stingray will simply sting if it senses danger. I would think being mishandled would trigger a response from the sting ray.

  3. John Smith says:

    Part of the problem starts with the fact that many of these operators are making under $20 per passenger to take people to see one of our greatest natural resources. They can not make money off of the tour so they are forced to depend on the money from the photos for profit. Time to set a minimum price so that our tour operators are not forced into desperate measures just to keep their business afloat.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a cash bar on board, tshirts and merch back at the dock. They are doing more than $20 per passenger. That is just their cut of the shore excursion charged by liner. You can only wring so many dollars out of these passengers, then growth relies solely on body count.

      • Anonymous says:

        But the passengers don’t spend on board and they don’t tip like stayovers. I drink with someone who works on these boats. He says they even bring their own bottled water and trying to get them to pay for photos is like pulling teeth – they take their own. This is low-end tourism at work here.

        • Anonymous says:

          Before phones were waterproof, one might bet nearly every customer that posed for the photo, bought the photo. But we can add all of this hearsay to the growing catalogue of stats that aren’t kept.

  4. Robin Hood says:

    So why isn’t there a police boat out there enforcing the law? There are almost zero guest who make
    It to stingray without an escort.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what the grownups are talking about.

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Unnecessarily rude comment to an honest question. A valid question.

        • Anonymous says:

          You must be new here. We’re paying the DoE and JMU, and will pay a third time to a new coast guard which was sold to us as a border protection service. Maybe a fourth time to a future Park Warden. Be prepared for nothing to continue to happen, due to high level environmental insensitivity, decades of corrupt crony-immunities, and ambient misdirected protectionism.

    • Anonymous says:

      Seen DOE there the last time I was there .. unsmiling, unseeing despite rays being lifted out of the water and moved around. Sitting in a boat at the edge of the crowd … they need to be out of the boat, in the water, watching what goes on.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I for the very first time visited the Sting Ray City and certainly enjoyed such a beautiful sight. But was very surprised how folks can just mishandle the poor creatures. They help to bring the tourists to this Island. To be very honest I saw the Tourists being very gentle to them , but on the other hand there was others that are not tourists acting real stupid and rough towards them. I even wondered to myself how the devil these poor creatures survive for so long. Its worth having some caring and intelligent person out there supervising them. That is worth the salary that will have to be paid out.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That would taste good with some brown butter and lemon with some rice on the side.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well wakey-wakey Cayman, are we really pretending to be surprised? Do we not realize that a “photo with the Stingrays” is part of the promise (and commercial formula) of almost every Stingray City package sold for the last 20 years? For each boat, the interested passengers queue up on the sandbar, the crew member wrangles the ray on command, lifts it out of the water for the kissy-selfie or happy ray backdrop, and the onboard photographer captures various poses and combinations and sells them for $50 on a USB to the tourist on the ride back. There are several operators doing this simultaneously on different parts of the sandbar, often twice a day, times the number of passengers on each boat. 100’s of water breaches per day. They even counsel passengers not to lift the rays, but then do it themselves minutes later. These buffoons are the so-called “important boat operator jobs” that supposedly hang in the balance of the cruise ship port debate. It’s become tacky, ecologically torturous, commercial bullshit, and no coincidence that the avg liner passenger laps it up. The DOE should think seriously about reshuffling the deck on standard commercial operational behavior at the sandbar. Not a moratorium on licenses, but rather a three strikes and you’re out, license suspension/cancellation policy for the entrenched recidivists. Marine enforcement can’t be a joke anymore – even the biggest operators should be made to be worried enough to take this seriously. Hit them in the wallet.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The name of the boat was reported to DOE. What are they going to DO about it?? The intention of WIZ licenses is not in question. Where is the enforcement??

    • Anonymous says:

      We do not enforce laws. It is all a scam meant to placate the electorate and to justify enormous expenditure for enormous civil service machinery to do nothing.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Well said. For years the enforcement divisions within the CIG has been crap. To name but a few try CIMA, DOE, PLanning etc.

        The Government needs wake up.

        • Anonymous says:

          RCIP? DCI? WORC?

        • Anonymous says:

          4:52 the DOE can and regularly do take these people/companies to court and attempt to give them fines or jail time but at the end of the day it’s up to the court to dish out punishment. I know some enforcement officers who are very frustrated when poachers and other marine life abusers slip through the cracks without so much as a hand slap. Everyone is so quick to condemn the DOE. A change in the court system is needed or a tougher judge.

      • Anonymous says:

        Detectable snark, but credible policy and enforcement really needs to start happening with our millions…and not just at the sandbar. Some kind of minimum performance criteria needs to be set, with regular review, to ensure people grow up and attitudes evolve.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Odds are the guy holding that stingray is an ex-pat (as I am but I don’t do s*** like that) working on the boat in the background – why not just pull their WP and shut the operator down? That’s what they do in other jurisdictions. One place I worked they hit a dive contractor with a $10,000 fine for getting a surface supply hose wrapped round a coral head. These islands don’t understand the word ‘enforcement’.

    • Anonymous says:

      Every single person I have witnessed holding them up to squirt water out as they struggle to breath is a LOCAL!!!!! I have never seen an ex-pat tour operator doing that. And that’s over 29 years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ill start taking pics for you

      • Anonymous says:

        Why do we always try to blame expats? The majority of tour operators at the Sandbar are CAYMANIAN. An I mean old generation Caymanian. quit blaming expats for our problems. Yours sincerely a fellow Caymanian.

      • Anonymous says:

        6:28 Strange that because when I took visiting friends out there a few months ago the boat crew was mostly Honduran and they were handling the stingrays. One of them had apparently been hit by a stinger, he still had evidence of the injury.

      • Anonymous says:

        ….one of the “dark skin = Caymanian” brigade …

      • Anonymous says:

        Funny how all of sudden, some people are experts in identifying who is a “Local” now. I would love to hear the criteria established to ascertain Local from foreigner.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ignorance at its finest.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There may be multiple offenses evidenced in that photo, and they may not all relate to Stingrays.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:41 There’s a difference between interacting with animals and abusing animals. Maybe do a bit more reading. No ones trying to stop people interacting with the rays. They are trying to make it safer more both people and animals. Lord have mercy.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand the problem with interacting with the Stingrays. If you promote Stingray city as a tour destination and you can’t interact and hold the Rays then whats the point? People now days are getting way too far into their feelings!

    • Anonymous says:

      Feelings? Torturing animals for profit is bad. Who are you to spew such nonsense? So you think dogfighting rings are acceptable fun? Sicko

    • Anonymous says:

      you really don’t get the idea of sustainability do you?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Sooo we now abusing String Rays, turtles,starfish, digging away mangroves, ripping up ironshores. Want to rip up coral gardens for$2.00 tourists.

    We bad. Keep up the good work guys!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    And notice the injury to that stingray! It looks like a prop hit to me. This is a killing the Golden Goose scenario developing here. Let’s say the dock gets built and all the stingrays disappear – going to be loads of p***ed off visitors aren’t there.

  15. Gillian Rudd says:

    This is so sad, These creatures are being abused, no other word for it. But it seems any lengths are gone to to satisfy tourists, no matter the cost.End this cruelty, before it becomes another case of ”if only …..”

  16. Anonymous says:

    Please people be careful with our beloved sea flap flaps (aka southern stingrays). You can enjoy them without mishandling them. I’m talking mainly to you tour operators. The DOE enforcement officers can only be there so often as they have other duties and there are only so many of them. It is our responsibility to look after this natural treasure. Enjoy responsibly.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ain’t seen nothing yeti ( please do not correct my grammar- I choose to write it like this) wait until they build the dock – if given the green light to proceed!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not to worry if the port goes in the idiots will screw everything up just like the dump, the traffic, the high cost of living, the envorinment, over development and list goes on.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This picture makes me so upset, that poor ray 🙁

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