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.”