Captains to feed decreasing stingrays

| 24/11/2020 | 19 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The tourism ministry and local watersports operators have come together to launch a non-profit Stingray Feeding and Interaction Programme (SFIP) to help stem the declining population at Cayman’s most important tourism attraction. A survey last month by the Guy Harvey Foundation confirmed fears that the number of rays gathering at the Sandbar was falling and found a near 50% decline from before the COVID-19 lockdown.

With so few people now visiting Stingray City to interact and feed the stingrays, local operators were concerned that by the time visitors return to Cayman after the COVID-19 pandemic is addressed, the famous sandbar will have lost its star attraction.

Therefore, five local watersports operators formed a steering committee to address the issue. Ronnie Anglin of Captain Marvin’s Watersports, Dwight Ebanks of Reel Esea Charters, Shaun Ebanks of Kman Sunsplash Watersports, Darney Kelly of Cayman Ocean Adventures and Troy Leacock of Crazy Crab Private Charters have now teamed up with government to keep the rays at Stingray City.

The Ministry of Tourism is funding the programme while the boat captains, who are all experienced and licensed Wildlife Interactive Zone (WIZ) operators, will go out to the sandbar and feed the marine creatures for an initial period of four months.

“We could see that the numbers of stingrays at the Stingray City Sandbar were steadily declining since March but the recent Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation census confirmed our worst fears and we knew we had to move quickly to get a regular feeding programme launched,” a spokesperson for the committee said. “In addition to feeding, the stingrays need regular human interaction to maintain Cayman’s most popular experience.”

The operators said that when they presented the problem and the proposed programme to officials, they agreed that this was an important and urgent matter and were quick to find public funding for the initiative.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell noted that in the high tourist season the stingrays would normally be fed over 100 pounds of squid every day by the boat captains. 

“Initially the programme will fund about 300 pounds of squid distributed over 15 trips a week, with an hour of in-water stingray interaction by experienced stingray handlers on each trip,” said Kirkconnell.

Progressive Distributors has provided an initial donation of squid and will be selling all the squid to the programme at cost price. The operators are inviting corporate donations for additional squid purchase to enable them to provide more food to the stingrays on each trip. Donations can be made by contacting any SFIP steering committee member.

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

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A pity they were hand fed in the first place – now they have forgotten how to forage. Guess we can’t un-ring the bell.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Stingrays are wild and will leave to find food, they’re not invalid nor will they starve through lack of handouts.
    How about saving the squid and cook up a nice big paella for all the needy people in Cayman

  3. Anonymous says:

    Excuse me for asking, but has anyone ever seen wild stingrays stalking and vacuuming live squid from the water of their natural habitat? Why not feed them cheese whiz, rum cakes, and turtle chow if their natural biological menu doesn’t matter to SFIP?

    Better yet: why aren’t there louder conservationist/DOE voices directing goonish SFIP/Moses/Guy Harvey and Progressive to leave them alone to get back into their natural balanced state? We need to stop meddling with nature, particularly when it comes to interminable programs using finite public money.

    Look at this contract:

    100lbs/day @ KYD$6/lb x 120 days = KYD$7,200,000 contract to Progressive Distributors.

    Add to that, two trips per day fuel burn, times an unknown volume of boats, their pollution, payroll, and inevitable unnecessary journey-centric overboard garbage from these “handlers”. This easily becomes a $10mln program over 4 months.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree but once that’s gone, why will people come to Cayman? Oh. Yes, right – you’ve got other attractions:

      The tallest dump in the Caribbean

      Crabs in buckets all over the islands

      Expensive mudslides

      … imagine what could have been if you built the piers… tours to North Sound where you can see the figurative tumbleweeds blowing through the old stingray site. LOL

      Don’t screw with Mother Nature, she will win every time.

      • Anonymous says:

        That Dump is amazing. Going to be one of the Seven Wonders Of The Caribbean very soon.

      • Anonymous says:

        You forgot Ghost Town(formally George town) tours and soon to be the only restaurant still open, Czech in grill cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you mean $72,000.

    • Anonymous says:

      Check that math again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Schooled in Cayman? Got a job in CIG finance? That’s what I thought.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No thanks. I will be supporting those businesses which have shown initiative rather than seek handout.

    CNS: No one is getting a handout except for the stingrays. The humans involved are volunteering their time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The rays are simply foraging for food as they normally do in the wild. They will return once the tourists return. No mystery. No need to worry.
    Same thing happens if you do not feed the wild chickens in your yard for 4 months. They leave. Then they come back if you start putting out food again.

  6. anon says:

    They will be fine once we give them our local Covid vaccine, they were the only volunteers.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is always one dumbo who has to take an informative concerning topic and turn it into a fool’s commentary.

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