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September 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 35, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Police to Patrol Grand Caymanís Stingray City

from the September, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Kudos to the Caymans for putting a fullĖtime law enforcement officer in this popular tourist spot. Officer Ivan Montieth with the Department of Environment is anchored daily in a patrol boat at Stingray City to ensure the well-being of the nearly 170 stingrays inhabiting the waters. His job is to make sure that boat operators and tourists donít lift rays out of the water, boat operators are licensed, and their boats donít anchor in the shallows.

The Department tightened its marine conservation regulations after a study published in Biological Conservation showed that tourism was having a detrimental impact on the stingrays. Christina Semeniuk from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia found that too much feeding of squid and the proliferation of so many boats and tourists in the water every day could be harmful to the stingraysí health because of potential injuries and parasite transmission. Other research found that boat collisions and cuts from propellers and anchor chains are the biggest type of injury to the rays - - research showed that of all Cayman stingrays examined, 30 percent from nonĖtourist sites had been injured, while 85 percent at the Sandbar had suffered boat-related injuries. Tim Austin, deputy director of the Department of Environment, said his team is working on demarcating the area more clearly with dedicated buoys.

Among new regulations, boats canít anchor in water shallower than three feet, no one can lift stingrays out of the water or wear any kind of footwear in the water. Unlicensed tourist boats are prohibited from entering the area. It is forbidden to feed the stingrays anything other than ballyhoo and squid, and each boat is only allowed to carry one pound of food for them. The rules also stipulate that a maximum of 1,500 visitors and 20 boats are allowed at Stingray City at any one time, and boats are only allowed to stay there for one hour maximum.

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