The photo, titled in many postings as the ultimate “photobomb” – an expression meaning when someone pops up unexpectedly in a posed photo – have elicited many humorous responses online, but the Cayman Islands Department of Environment warns that lifting stingrays out of the sea is harmful to the rays and that it’s illegal to remove them from the water.
It’s not known who took the photo or when it was taken, but it seems to show a man in the background lifting the stingray on to the backs of the women, who look less than happy.
Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, warned that taking a stingray out of the water places a lot of stress on the ray.
“The Wildlife Interaction Zone regulations make it an offence to remove rays from the water. This is because rays are marine creatures which, like fish, breathe with the aid of gills while in the water – if they are out of the water they cannot breathe.
“This is cruel and also creates a stressful situation for the animal which will cause health issues for the animal if it happens repeatedly,” Ms Ebanks-Petrie said.
The Sandbar is a designated Wildlife Interaction Zone.
While tourists who visit the Sandbar are allowed to hold stingrays in their arms, responsible tour operators usually advise them to keep the stingray in the water while doing this.
The photograph has appeared in many blogs and websites, including the Huffington Post and the UK’s Sun newspaper, and has been retweeted thousands of times on Twitter.