MoT boosts budget to feed stingrays

| 23/02/2021 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service
Watersports operator feeds the rays at the Sandbar

(CNS): Licensed Wildlife Interactive Zone (WIZ) watersports tour operators can continue to run regular trips to the Sandbar over the next few months as the tourism ministry has confirmed that it will continue to fund the initiative to feed the stingrays there until June. It has also increased the budget so the boat owners can make more visits to feed the animals and keep them coming to the world famous spot.

The Stingray Feeding and Interaction Programme was established by a group of tour operators who depend on the stingrays when the tourists are here as one of their main attractions. With the borders closed to tourists for almost twelve months, the stingrays had little reason to congregate at Stingray City as there was no free lunch anymore.

Concerned that they may not come back, the operators sought funding for the programme late last year so that they could make daily trips to the location and encourage the rays back and to stick around.

“The programme has been a huge success,” said a spokesperson for the group of more than 50 operators that have been involved. “We’ve seen an increase in the stingray population and a return of the docile and friendly stingray behaviour that makes Stingray City so amazing. It’s become a real rallying project for our operators to stay in communication with each other as we monitor and care for our valuable attraction.”

Thanking the ministry for the continued support, the operators said they would now be visiting the site even more frequently after the monthly budget was increased from CI$20,000 per month to $27,000. This means they can do 20 trips per week, or almost three times per day, which more closely mimics the frequency, if not the quantity, of feeding that will happen when tourists return.

The steering committee for the programme includes 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.


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

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I went out on one of these feeding trips on a day when no one was at Stingray City and it was on a large tour boat with 4 people including captain and 20 lbs of squid to feed 40+ Stingrays.

    Considering the amount of gas to get there with no paid passengers it is an expense. There were no side trips or other stops.

    I enjoyed being apart of this imitative and government does not do enough for anything that deals with the environment.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We should rely on the common sense notion that supports a proportionately scaled-down Stingray City attraction, with much tighter resource management, reduced herd size, and increased boating/enviro oversight/control repeatedly promised (by DoE and Coast Guard). Not blindly stoking an already overcrowded field of non-compliant operators, boats, imported permitted staff – who are artificially increasing aggressive herd sizes, even now, with our money – and for a cruise tourism market that won’t be returning this year, or perhaps ever. Why didn’t failing operators accept the free business retooling advice that was offered in early 2020? Let’s spend money on retooling these people for our probable future, and nurture attractions and activities for that reality, not fueling some unabated dream of the past.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Under the same heading of unnatural government think tank environmental interventions, shouldn’t we also be spending millions feeding the bikini selfie starfish? What about all the Rum Point Ching Chings that aren’t getting their normal French fry intake? Send cheese whiz to the Cemetery Reef Bermuda Chub and Sgt Majors. What about the A La Kebab feral cats? Order up some baskets and keep them coming…you can’t make this stuff up.

  4. Mikey says:

    So……… 27k x 50 = $1,350,000.00 per month

    1,350,000.00 x 12 = 16,200,000.00 on Stingreys a year?

    Tour operator is making $324,000.00 a year

    Hmmm… Wild discovery

  5. Anonymous says:

    “just let the wild rays go find food elsewhere”

    Yea, and rapidly reverse the domestication of them that has happened over the last couple decades that resulted in a multi-million dollar, unique natural attraction.

    The cost of the food is worth the revenue. You need to spend money to make a return on investment, people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Except it wont reverse. By their own admission in this article the rays went right back to normal once the food returned. The fish aint stupid.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How many of those operators have work permits for staff still in Cayman that is benefiting from this aid? Funds being used to subsidize foreigners by some of those operators. WORC should cancel all permits in that area as obviously they don’t have enough work to sustain their foreign staff and maybe they can now hire locals to do tours. After all who knows best about Cayman better than native Caymanians?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “the monthly budget was increased from CI$20,000 per month to $27,000”

    Jesus H Christ, the Queen of England doesn’t spend that on eating and we spend it to feed stingrays. 🤦🏻‍♀️

  8. Anonymous says:

    How many Caymanians do all of these companies employ?

  9. Anonymous says:

    If you give me CI$324,000.00 a year I will provide my own boat and food and feed the stingrays 3 times a day.

    • Anonymous says:

      would not be in the least bit surprised some of this money is going towards fishing expeditions, buying new tackle and fixing up boats.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t we stop meddling and let stingrays be stingrays? This is like feeding raccoons or bears at a garbage dump, or using state funds to send orders of french fries to seagulls. So bizarre.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t you mind your business? You sound like you’re from stateside – why don’t you look in ya own backyard first and close down all those SeaWorlds and Busch Gardens? This is a natural environment and attraction with NO cement required.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m Caymanian and this is an appalling misallocation of our resources and an abuse of our natural environment with no moral high ground. That the tour operators supporting this unnatural catering effort don’t respect nature enough to know when to leave wild ecosystems alone, tells you everything you need to know about this “attraction”, and the countrymen “running it”. All so that a handful of boat-owning oligarchs can hire foreigners to hoist and suffocate rays for selfies.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Not necessary to increase trips. Reduce it to 1 trip per day and use the funds elsewhere. The rays will forage for food and quickly come back when tourism returns.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t get it do you? It’s not about feeding the stingrays – it’s about feeding the stingray cruise operators. In addition to the government grants, loans and personal $1500 a month.

      • Charity says:

        #3.43pm You hit the stingray on the head (metaphorically of course). Four operators receiving $27,000 a month to feed wild rays that are perfectly able to feed themselves, it’s most definitely a case of Government feeding the tour operators. It’s a bit like the GT shuttle buses touring the capital with only 1 person in them – the taxi driver.

        • Anonymous says:

          There’s 50 operators involved NOT 4.

          • Anonymous says:

            Just 5 owners on the nature-meddling steering committee. This intervention is increasing the herd size, not content to sustain it. Why are we funding this?

  12. _||) says:

    Went for the first time in about a decade recently and had a wonderful time. I recommend all Caymanians support their local tour operators and other local-based business in these times.

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