One negative consequence of Cayman’s island-wide shutdown could be a resurgence of the invasive green iguana.
A multi-million-dollar, 18-month-long culling effort has helped reduce the population of the pest species by more than 1.1 million.
But the cull was scheduled to continue through the end of 2020 at least, to keep numbers under control.
The suspension of all business activity and the ‘shelter in place’ order shutting down all non-essential government services has meant the cull has had to be put on pause.
Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said it would have been impractical to continue in the current environment.
But the suspension will undo some of the good work.
“We are seeing more green iguanas,” she said. “This is just the time when they are coming into breeding season so that is a problem.
“We will have to pick it up hard when the curfew is lifted.”
Stingrays being fed daily
Another area of concern for nature lovers is Stingray City and the sandbar. Ebanks-Petrie said DoE conservation officers were at the sandbar daily to provide food to the rays.
She said this was more to ensure the preservation of the tourist attraction than for the benefit of the stingrays, who have not lost the ability to forage.
She believes the absence of boats will actually provide them with some respite from too much human contact, as well as reduce the risk of injury from propellers.
Stingrays are usually solitary animals and the aggregation at the sandbar is somewhat abnormal in nature. But the North Sound attraction is invaluable to Cayman’s tourism product and Ebanks-Petrie said her officers were doing their part to ensure the rays maintained an association with the site.