It’s great news that the four stingrays tagged at the
Sandbar and discovered at Dolphin Discovery are back home in the North Sound.
A team from the Department of Environment picked up the rays
Monday and ensured their safe arrival back home.
The unfortunate news is there are six more stingrays being
held in captivity at Dolphin Discovery. They aren’t being released because the
dolphinarium believes they are safer within their confines.
We believe those stingrays should also have been released.
We can spread the blame around on their capture and
captivity – from the fishermen who swapped them for bait, to the people who
accepted them and put them in captivity all the way to the people we elect to
make legislation in the Cayman Islands. Blame should especially be laid at the
feet of the elected officials who continually refuse to adopt the National
Stingrays living inside designated zones such as Marine
Parks, Wildlife Interaction Zones or Designated Environmental Zones are
protected under the law. Any stingrays outside those zones aren’t receiving any
protections. They would be protected under the revamped National Conservation
It’s also unfortunate that the dolphinarium wouldn’t let the
DoE take the other six stingrays to the Sandbar or even to tag them in their
tank so they can be monitored.
What’s worrying even more is that the stingray population
continues to decline, but monitoring shows no evidence of diseases or other
problems that would cause them to die off. Yes, there are natural predators in
the Caribbean Sea. We would hope that people aren’t taking rays from our waters
and transporting them to other jurisdictions.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association estimates that gross
revenues from Stingray City and Stingray Sandbar tours by operators exceeds
US$30 million a year; it is our niche attraction – nowhere else in the world
can you go and interact with stingrays.
We can’t afford to lose them and we should hold everyone who
puts them in harm’s way accountable.