Butchered eagle ray found in East End

Illegal catch reported to DoE

Iconic and graceful, eagle rays are a big attraction to scuba divers and snorkelers in Cayman. This file photo shows a spotted eagle ray at the North Sound sandbar. - PHOTO: ELLEN CUYLAERTS

A fisherman made the gruesome discovery Friday of an eagle ray, with its wings sliced off, floating in the shallows off East End.

Joel Jefferson said it appeared as though the ray’s wing-like pectoral fins had been cut off and the animal thrown back in the water and left to die.

“The first thing I thought was that a shark had got it. Then I saw how clean the cuts were.

“It is particularly shocking because eagle rays aren’t really even a food source. If someone takes an extra fish or a lobster, I don’t approve of it, but you can understand why. Cutting up an eagle ray like this doesn’t serve any purpose, that’s what makes it particularly egregious.”

Like sharks, eagle rays are protected by the National Conservation Law.

Mark Orr, chief enforcement officer with the Department of Environment, said, “Nobody is supposed to catch them, and if fishermen do catch them by accident, they are supposed to put them back unharmed.”

He acknowledged it would be difficult to catch the perpetrators, but said the DoE would be making additional checks in the area.

Mr. Jefferson said he believed most fishermen were aware of the laws and did their best to protect the environment.

He believes the DoE is under resourced and that more conservation officers are needed to keep tabs on illegal activity in and around Cayman’s waters.

“That’s something we can fix,” he said. “You can have all the laws in the world, but without enforcement you are whistling in the wind.”

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  1. Butchering an eagle ray . I wonder if the senseless criminal who would do such a thing like killing an eagle ray, knows the value of such invertberates in the ocean and how beautiful they are to see in the water .

    I will never forget the first time I saw an eagle ray in the water . I was about to descend over the wall when I saw two eagle ray’s with about 6 ft wingspan each coming in from the deep blue ocean tip to tip , it was the most beautiful and graceful sight I had ever seen in my life .

    I still think that we all should work together to make sure that the criminals that are doing these kind of things are brought to justice and punished to the extent of the Law . I don’t think that this is a kid doing these kind of acts , if it is then I still think he should be taught a big lesson about such cruelty and not a slap on the hand .