Mistreatment of local stingray captured on camera

| 28/09/2012

qIy69 (269x300).jpg(CNS): Despite repeated warnings by officials about not lifting stingrays out of the water, another photograph has emerged showing a handler at the Sandbar raising one of the marine creatures completely out of the ocean behind what appears to be three terrified women. The picture taken at Cayman's famous tourism attraction has circulated around the world via the internet and shows further mistreatment of the local stingrays. In the wake of news that ten of the rays were being held captive at a local dolphinarium, the photograph shows that even in the Wildlife Interactive Zone, where they are meant to be protected, the creatures are still subject to mistreatment.

The director of the Department of Environment has warned yet again that lifting stingrays completely out of the water is not only illegal but harmful and distressing for them. “The Wildlife Interaction Zone regulations make it an offence to remove rays from the water. This is because rays are marine creatures which, like fish, breathe with the aid of gills while in the water – if they are out of the water they cannot breathe. It is cruel and creates a stressful situation for the animal which will cause health issues if it happens repeatedly,” Gina Ebanks-Petrie said.

Although no one has ever been prosecuted for lifting rays from the water at the WIZ, it happens more frequently than conservation experts would like as handlers attempt to entertain tourists. Although people are able to touch the rays when visiting the Sandbar at Stingray City, they are encouraged to do so while the creatures remain in the water.

This latest photograph is further illustration that the local rays need more support, and while the picture may have attracted global attention for Grand Cayman's Sandbar, it is a further indication of a pressing need to protect these valuable and unique creatures.

The photobomb, as it is being described, was posted on Reddit.com and has been picked up by the media around the world.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe that DOE should contact a stingray scientist once and for all to find out if holding a stingray for a few seconds or a minute causes the stingray to be in any danger of dying or fainting or any problem to the stingray.

    I don't believe it does but we should know. Also any fish we are feeding bread or cheese or hot dogs on dive sites by diving instructors. Is the diet we feed stingrays sufficent (squid)? 

    We were feeding sharks, its just a matter of time before we do this again. They recently found out you can hynotize sharks even very large ones by rubbing around the eyes and they fall asleep in your arms. The shark likes it so much they come back and do it again. You can watch a young girl diver in mexico i believe it was . She has 6-8 ft sharks feeding out of her hand.  One comes between her legs and she starts rubbing around the eyes and snout. She picks it up from the bottom while holding it by the nose and holds it in one hand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK2LpUoqX6A

    333Nina salerosa

    David Miller NAUI Instructor 6588

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mistreatment of stingrays? How is lifting a stingray out of the water mistreating the animal? No harm is done while lifting them out. You want to talk about mistreatment? lets talk about dolphins cove

  3. Anonymous says:

    this is common practice (taking the rays out of the water), the rays don't ahve a problem with it so why bother?

  4. JuanEbanks says:

    The DOE needs to lighten up. They just got a TON of free publicity. I say let people wear the stingrays like hats if they want. Who cares?! Plus it's good for tourism. And god knows we are tourism whores.

    • Anonymous says:

      would you care if someone shoved you underwater and created a stressful situation for you?  of course you wouldn't, and you would probably press charges for assault if someone did.  i mean honestly…

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re right, Bobo, I wouldn’t.

        My wife does that the whole time when I’m in the tub. Stressful I agree, but still strangely exciting.

        It’s a big ugly fish, for goodness sake. Who cares? Fish are chased,hooked, suffocated, gaffed, skewered, decapitated, netted, broiled, boiled, fried, skinned, scaled, gutted, microwaved, sushi’d and otherwise abused here every day of the year. In comparison, what exactly is so cruel about lifting one on to somebody’s back? It’s smiling for goodness sake! Uncannily like the wife, now I think of it….

        And by the way, finishing with “I mean honestly…” adds no weight to your already flimsy (and illiterate) argument.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a heartless asshole.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My God please make these people stop the ridiculous condemnation of the Caymanian people. 

    On TV no less how many times do you see fish being hooked brought up on boats and released back to the water after resucitation on the fish? 

    If stingrays had a problem with divers putting their heads out of water they would sting them. Thats right they would go into defensive mode. They are not your dog or cats that you have at home. Even they would let you know if they didn't like what you are doing to them.

    On cats and dogs how many are killed every year because foreigners don't want to take them home when their work permit is up? How many? Why don't we have a law about that?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Their faces are priceless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not really. They’re genuinely terrified, poor women. Reminds me of a pic of Hungarian policemen a split second before they are shot in the ’58 uprising. Still, if that’s what amuses you, cool.

  7. Anon says:

    Okay, you shouldn’t lift the stingrays out of the water. Fair enough. But really, is this a big issue? What was the Ray out of the water for, a few seconds. I think this is a bit of a molehill.

    Now if Alden or Mac molested Mr. Ray…. Whole new post. 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not that it matters, but this photo was taken 5 (five) years ago

  9. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone bothered to look at when the photo was taken? there is no evidence of that what so ever. In fact the only dating information i see is a snorkel vest with Sundancer written on it. 

    Hasn't that boat been out of action for quite some time ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, but I've seen worse photos than this and they were taken in the last few months.

      One Honduran crew member even got a stinger through his side at the beginning of the year while showing off to cruise trippers. There are photos of that going around as well. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    Those three faces defeat the whole purpose of going to stingray city. They are not having fun they are terrified. at least for that moment.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Animal abuse is not new to cayman,look at the abuse of the cayman parrot, iguanas,turtle,dolphin in captivity,cows,horses,dogs,cats,stingrays in the wild and now also in captivity,grouper so as you can see we do this every day and no one is in charge to prosecute.education is needed NOW, ACTION IS NEEDED NOW.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I operate a boat daily to the Sandbar, and would like to enter a few 'facts' that maybe answer some of  these issues. 1) in the past it was not uncommon for some handlers to be seen raising the rays out of the water for 'stingray smile' photos (our company has never engaged in that), but that has now been stopped. I beleive this may well be an old photo. 2) the DoE does now have a boat stationed at the Sandbar every day to monitor and enforce correct handling of the rays.

    I love animals and I love the stingrays. My job is to show and educate people on what beautiful gentle creatures these are, and what a privelege it is that they allow us to interact with them.  What do I find abhorent? Seeing fishermen around the two stingray locations, trolling lines straight past Deep Stingray and hearing about selling of captured rays as bait.

  13. Animaliberator says:

    As noted in my previous articles, humans simply can not be trusted the let natural beings be natural, in particular if the "wild" creature attempts to please humans once more for whatever reason it sees fit or by means of force, it has to be abused in some form or another. Humans appear to have so little respect for animals of any kind by forcing their "superiority" upon them and if the animal does not co-operate, well, we all know what happens then don't we as Anon 12.02 pointed out so well.


    It should be pointed out to the visitors as well to report abuse whenever or where ever it takes place and report them to the authorities as this would simply be the right thing to do, we do it for humans, so why not for the animals of any kind.

  14. Anonymous says:

    this year i went to stingray city with my friends who were visiting me. the tour was great. however when we got in the water at stingray city the tour guide grabbed the first stingray he could get and held it for us all to see. he then took its tail and bent it to show the sting. touching it and telling everyone how harmless they were etc. what an idiot i thought. ill never forget that moment. you know who you are uk guy.

  15. Anonymous says:

    DOE should have a vessel out there every day / all day for crowd control and to ensure proper handling of the stingrays. Any watersports operators that mishandle the stingrays should lose their license. No excuses.

    • Anon says:

      And where would the DoE get the money from to keep a boat maintained and fueled everyday?

  16. Anonymous says:

    There is the right thing and the thing that makes money. Apparently this Christian nation prefers the latter option.

  17. Anonymous says:

    another great example of caymankindness…….zzzzzzzzzzzz

  18. Anonymous says:

    I suspect its an employee of one of the boat operators who was trying to impress the ladies, but clearly he's an idiot and should be fired.  Shame the spike didn't puncture his lungs, he'd have learnt a lesson then.

  19. Anonymous says:

    identify the perp and have the company deal with him!!

  20. Anonymous says:

    CHILL OUT PEOPLE!!   While lifting the stingrays briefly out of the water should be avoided, it is pretty minor.   These animals are not caged, and freely come in to the area to eat and interact with people.  If this caused 'signigicant distress', the rays would avoid the area, and not come rushing up to boats when they are coming into the area.

    The rays get fed, and are relatively free of predation threats in the sand bar area largely because of the frequent human activity.    So chill!

    • Diogenes says:

      How about I stuff your head underwater whilst people take photos of you.  Hey, you would still get paid – by turning up to work as a watersports operator you are freely volunteering to be abused by tourists in exchange for moeny to buy food, no?  SMH.  

    • Anonymous says:

      "it is pretty minor."

      Pretty minor for those watching not for the ray.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you ever consider that the continuing harassment of the rays may the the reason there are fewer rays on the sandbar? 

  21. Anonymous says:

    The sad, desperate plight ofour manhandled stingrays always comes to mind when I'm bashing the brains out of Marlin with my baseball bat or chopping the head of a green iguana with my machete. God how those stingrays suffer!. Now l must go, so I can kick my cringing dog a couple of times before I tie up my horse in the tropical sun without any water to drink or shade to stand in.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, nothing is wrong with hitting the Marlin with the baseball bat! How else are we supposed to be sure he  is dead? It shouldn't be in the same category as kicking your cringing dog. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Because god likes dogs, but doesn’t like fish?

        • Anonymous says:

          Didn't Jesus help his disciples catch a whole boat load, and another time cooked them a nice fish breakfast on the beach? He likes fish plenty!

          Now if he were an oriental Jesus…

      • Anonymous says:

        12.35. Fair enough, but sometimes satire gets the message over. Things aren't so bad as they used to be here, but the treatment of animals in Cayman is very bad at times. I've encountered dogs, including one today as it happens, that years after being adopted are still terrified by strangers. The fingerprint of cruelty is plain to see. Animals suffer pain just lke humans do, but because they can't express themselves, some ignorami regard them like animated pieces of wood. Cruelty fuelled by ignorance is the most  revolting characteristic of a small minority of humans. There is no excuse for it, which is why when those 7 Blue Iguanas were ripped to pieces by a trained dog a couple of yrears ago, the whole world of decent people reacted with utter revulsion.

    • Anonymous says:

      You forgot the pelican!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes they forgot the pellican.  Cayman is one of the worst places on their treatment and doing anything about animal cruelty.  They have laws in place on animal cruelty but do not enforce them.  I am sorry that fisherman should have been held accountable for killing the pelican.  But again, nothing is done about animal cruelty here in the cayman islands.  You have so many puppies and dogs at the Humane Society to be adopted, some even pedigrees, people dumping their animals when they have to leave the Island, yet Agriculture allows a certain operation and a private person  to sell (and I believe breed) puppies that are not healthy, and charge a large large sum of money.  The operation is not the cleanest and keeps over 3-4 puppies at a time in a small kennel or cage.  I have seen them keep two puppies in a small guinea pig cage.  I call this animal abuse.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It is unfortunately that this kind of story has hit international news.  You will note in the water sports industry that half of those out there in the sandbar do not have a clue about the ocean much less stingrays.  This is what happens when industries start importing people from other countries saturating the water sports industry.  Stingray city should be a National Heritage place where only Caymanians should be engaged in and work at.  Have you not seen expatriates buying boats and all of a sudden they have some vast knowledge of the stingrays and the history of how the stingrays came to have affiliation and encounter with man.  Some of them would never have had got the pleasure/or opportunity of being in such an industry in their own country.  First you allow the outsiders take pay you certain percentage so they can get their foot in the door.  Then once in they bring in their own people.  Next they ignore you and not even showing any form of gratitude towards the Caymanian who thought at the time it would be such a good partnership.  Once again Cayman Islands opening up their doors, smiling and behaving like outsiders have all the knowledge rather than themselves.  Amazing only but Cayman Islands.  Why don’t you people wake up and start taking ownership of your things.  When you watch other Caribbean programmes look at who is promoting the products.  Yes the people born and bred of that particular island.  When are the Caymanians going to learn?  I suppose when you become like the Aborigines in Australia, or like the Native Indians in America then you may wake up.  BUT THEN THAT MAY BE ALL TOO LATE.  Any money not one of you is going to do anything about your dying trade that has been taken over.  ANY MONEY

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not just imported workers who are lifting rays out the water. Dont turn this into the same old sameold.  Look at the head and hair behind the ray. This issue is about conservation, not blaming the expats again


    • Anonymous says:

      Reply to ''It is unfortunately!''

      F Y I …Times when I was at the sandbar, I have also  seen Caymanian tour operators

      lifting the rays up for photo ops….I think they all need to be reminded and educated

       about the proper and humane way to treat the rays.   Set up  ''again''  strict rules

      and regulations and stick to them and fine people who don't abide by them.

      • Anonymous says:

        There was (until fairly recently at least) a photo of a well known Caymanian watersports person displayed in advertising material for Stingray City.

        • Anonymous says:

          I am 12:56 and my post should have included the words "holding up a stingray for the camera" at the end. I am glad the topic has been covered well by people who, unlike me, didn't have an apparent stroke in the middle of what they were writing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congratulations! I wasn't sure how someone was going to turn this into a race/nationality issue, but you did it! That's insane…like saying someone knows how to drill for oil because they grew up in Dallas, or that they can mill steel because they grew up in Pittsburgh. I would be willing to wager that me and my biology degree know more about stingrays than 90% of the local Caymanians. The solution is not in who is hired, but rather proper training for the employees (regardless of nationality). Also, it wouldn't hurt to enforce the rules. Why haven't they at least issued warnings when people take them out of the water?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep the same old "Only Caymanians" should be able to do this and that.  Not skill,  Not experiance,  Not ethical,  Not even intellligent,  But Caymanian.  With the usual results.  When are the Caymanians going to learn how to do things right instead of making sure no one can do it right?  My guess is WHEN ITS ALL TOO LATE.  Wait!  Aren't all the water sport company's owned by Caymanians?  And they have hired skill and experiance over Caymanian?  TOO LATE!

      • anonymous says:

        You are in our Country stop insulting us,you are still welcome for now.

      • Anonymous says:

        Learn to spell and punctuate and then your criticisms of Caymanians might be taken seriously. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Its also including the operators….they are the ones who do take the stingrays out of the water most of the time…..so hence who should know better

    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously you dont go there often.  there are Caymanians doing this EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The existence of Stingray City is an abomination… an abysmal mistreatment of Stingrays… rationalized by tourist dollars… but this, this DOE has issues with? LOL.

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about?  The stingrays are there of their own accord.  While i dont like the fact that there are hundreds of people there at times and abhor the people that lift the rays out the water, the stingrays can come and go as they please.  And come they do. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The fact that an animal comes for food doesn't give you the licence to treat it inhumanely, especially if they have come to be dependent on the food.  You may as well say that because your Filipino maid is forced by economic circumstances to work here, and will accept low rates of pay and abuse because their family back home needs the money, that abusing them and paying them slavery wages is ok….wait, I am forgetting that's common too!

  24. So what was done? says:

    Did any official agency contact Reddit.com to post something linked to the article to educate the global population that this should not be done. Or will they wait for people that saw the picture trying to do the same to the stingrays?

    • Anonymous says:

      I saw this on Flipboard last night and flagged it as inappropriate, but the picture is quite definitely out there, the comments I saw we’re mostly abhorring the picture, but some ignorant people seemed to find it funny!

  25. Whodatis says:

    Very interesting situation here.

    On the one hand the photo clearly portrays mistreatment of a stingray. However, on the other hand this 'photobomb' has gone absolutely viral over the internet (and television), complete with captions mentioning Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Stingray City etc.

    In effect it is a tourism advert that has spread like wildfire and will ultimately be viewed by millions around the world … and at no cost whatsoever to CIG.

    Obviously, the risk is now of tourists wanting to recreate the "cute", "smiling face" pic with our stingrays. However, provided this is disallowed on-site and efforts to restrict the activity are reinforced going forward, I view this as a "win" for Cayman today.

    Surely some may disagree but what is done is done. We can only hope to prevent it from happening again.

    In the meantime, I say we enjoy the FREE and MASSIVE publicity campaign and chill out.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is exactly the thought I had when Ed Schultz on MSNBC went on and one about George Bush's upcoming visit to Cayman for the Alternative Investments conference. He gave lots of photos of the Ritz Carlton, the Beach and yes, this exact same photo. Yep, great free publicity for Cayman.  

    • Whodatis says:

      And by the way … don't many types of stingrays actually leap / jump out of the water on their own accord?

      I am no Marine Biologist, but the concerns regarding briefly lifting them out of the water could be a bit of overkill.

      I am not encouraging the act, but it may not be as harmful as some suspect.

    • Anonymous says:

      But can't you see it is a sinister UK plot Whodatis?

    • Anonymous says:

      For once I agree with Whodatis.  From what I have read on the responses most people thought it was funny.  Some people were scared of stingrays in general.  Remember Steve?  Our job at this point is to take all the publicity we can get, monitor the lifting of the stingrays out of the water and educate people on stingrays habits and the different kinds of stingrays.  I think this is a win win.

  26. Anonymous says:

    On one hand this is akin to bein at a petting zoo and holding the calf/goat/bunny's head underwater for a photo op.

    On the other hand the ray is the only one smiling in the photo and appears to be enjoying himself.

    • Anonymous says:

      Right………just like the dolphins that are always smiling in their pens? I hope you're joking

  27. Anonymous says:

    How many millions of dollars does Cayman make from the sandbar. It provides so many jobs and an income for so many people. Goverment have people in these waste of time jobs doing nothing and they cant afford to have a marine officer parked at the sandbar while the operators are there to make sure the rules are followed. There needs to be an allocated officer there everyday of the week to protect the rays. Its obvious some of the operators dont understand or care,as long as they get their tip today tomorrow does not matter.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Some joker always messes things up for everyone else.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some joker – like you think this is an isolated example?  I reckon I have seen an example of a watersports operator's staff holding a stingray partially out of the water for a photo op on virtually every time I have been at the sand bar.