It is said that along with age comes wisdom.
That’s how we can look at the decision made by the Caymanian Land and Sea Cooperative Society to stop the practice of taking stingrays out of the water for photo ops.
It’s a good and timely decision.
Although the practice of taking stingrays out of the water to pose them for photographs for tourists has been going on for years, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is right.
Stingrays are creatures of the sea.
They breathe water through their gills, extracting life-sustaining oxygen from the water.
Just as humans can’t get oxygen from water, rays can’t get oxygen from air.
Imagine if someone held your head under water for several minutes; breathing would become difficult and, if held long enough, panic would ensue.
No, we don’t know what’s going through the mind or body of a stingray when we hold it up in the air, but intelligence should tell us something isn’t right.
We don’t know what kind of stress is put on the stingray, but we do know that if kept out of water long enough, physical damage to the ray can be expected.
Neither the co-op nor we advocate shutting down Stingray City.
That would be foolish.
It’s a major destination for tourists and locals alike. Closing it would mean the loss of thousands if not millions of dollars to the coffers of the Cayman Islands.
What is needed is gentle caring and respect for these creatures that have become so adjusted to man.
Several dive boat operators and companies were already on board with the stingray handling policy.
It’s a smart move on their part.
Their livelihoods now and in the future depend, in part, on the health of the stingrays.
Locals and visitors who want to trek out to Stingray City are being asked to use the dive boat operators and companies that have adopted the policy.
Helping preserve Stingray City is a good start at overall protection. It’s just one of the many ecological tour sites that the Cayman Islands has to offer.
We must treat all of them and their inhabitants with care for future generations of Caymanians.