DoE recovers and releases captive stingrays

| 12/07/2013

IMG-20130712-00661.jpg(CNS): Following the passage of an amendment to the Marine Conservation Law to protect stingrays in Cayman waters, one of West Bay’s captive dolphin facilities was forced to hand over the six stingrays it was holding to government or face prosecution. On Friday morning a team of scientists and marine experts collected the five males and a single female stingray from Dolphin Discovery and took them byboat back out to the North Sound. Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said that in light of recent discoveries that there are considerably fewer male stingrays at the Sandbar than females, the release of these rays was an important contribution to the North Sound population. The DoE director said she was very hopeful that these stingrays would integrate well with the existing population.

However, she noted that experts were still not sure how well captive rays re-adapt when returned to their natural habitat.

The rays were certified as healthy by experts before they were transported by truck in small tanks from the tank at the dolphinarium to the quay in the Morgan’s Harbour area before being taking out to sea aboard one of the DoE’s vessels.

IMG-20130712-00666.jpgEbanks-Petrie (right) confirmed that the return of these six rays means that, as far as the DoE was aware, there are now no more of the creatures still in captivity. Pleased with the change in the legislation which enabled these Stingrays to be released, she also noted that going forward these incredible creatures, which have created a unique tourism attraction for Cayman at Stingray City, will enjoy protection no matter where they now choose to journey in the ocean.

The rays that were released today were part of a group of ten stingrays which were taken into captivity by Dolphin Discovery. A local vet who was visiting the facility saw that four of them had been tagged and reported her observation to the authorities. Having been identified as stingrays from the Sandbar, which is a wildlife interaction zone (WIZ) where the creatures were offered protection, the facility agreed to their release. But the captive dolphin business refused to give up the other six which were not tagged. As the rays come and go from the WIZ and with no previous protection for them outside the zone, there was no law to compel the facility to return the remaining rays.

With the change of legislation earlier this year, however, rays were given across-the-board protection and the holding of stingrays and other types was made unlawful, paving the way for the liberation of this last group.

Local scientists and those from overseas have continued to count the stingrays at the Sandbar, where the population is still believed to have declined by as much as 40% from the original population.

The researchers involved in the current census are using an ultrasound machine to check for pregnant rays. Petrie-Ebanks said she was hopeful that the five males that will now be returned to the wild will help to boost the population and re-balance the gender gap that the population is facing.

Ebanks-Petrie thanked everyone involved in the release of the rays, including Billy Farrington of Marine Diesel, who allowed the DoE to use his dock.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (27)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Rrp says:

    That's one small step for  a man, a giant leap for Caymankind.  Well done! Congrats Gina!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now the Government should pass legislation to close down both captive dolphin operations here in Cayman, then release the dolphins to the wild. Boycott the companies owned by the principles in both ventures.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is fantastic news! These people with that facility should never have been able to come to our island. Having these amazing creatures captive in these tanks and enclosures when they have amazing natural habitat (and are not endangered, and actually generate revenue for our island) is completely unfair and really does not portray the kind of image we want for Cayman. 


    Here's hoping that eventually the dolphins will get released as well! Boycott Dolphin Discovery – will never, ever go there, and I never suggest it as an activity for my friends/family who visit me on island from overseas. 

  4. badcaymanian says:


    now check out:

    look at the photos of reefs just outside of this dolphin cage


    what caused the bleaching of the reef?

    it appears the water from this dolphin cage is not going into any treatment center of turtle farm, but instead just being dumped into the ocean.


    this damage looks like a chemical of some sort.

  5. animal lover says:

    is there any truth to the rumours that the released stingrays were blind?

    if yes, what caused the blindness?

  6. land and sea says:

    Us caymanians of the Land and Sea co-op have to pay $10 per tourist when we whole sale purchase armbands for entrance to the government owned Turtle Farm.

    For some strange reason the folks at Dolphin Discovery only have to pay $6.

    What makes those nice mexican folks deserve a much better rate than me?

    I plead for our new government to not allow foreignorsj to unfairly beat out us local folks because they have high powered connections.


    kudos for the releasing of the stingrays !!!! 

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    I went to the sandbar some weeks ago and I can tell you that there was only three stingrays out there. Something has happened to the population of our stingrays!  I am suspecting that someone is capturing them. Don't no who, but I have never seen just three stingrays out there in a long time. Government need to investigate this I feel. … It reminds me of a video I saw on youtube, showing Cayman turtles in a farm in Japan.  How could this happen!  And they posted it on youtube!  Things like this shouldn't be tolerated and we need our marine officers to look out for any suspusion activities; we need more vessels and officers patrolling our seas.

    • Anonymous says:

      My friend when we invite certain nationality that will eat anything from the sea, you do not have to wonder where the stingrays are going…on these people's  plates.

      it is so easy to take a little boat and fish on the sand bar at night. No one is wathching the sand bar at night. I would suggest putting a gps tracking mecahnism on our stingrays, they are very valuable to toursim.

  8. Anonymous says:

    i urge all families to boycott the dolphin prisons….

  9. Anonymous says:

    Let my people go! – Flipper

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dolphin Discovery is the name of the company that took the stingrays into capitivity against the public opinion and the local media coverage has not been willing to name the offending business.

    Shame on Dolphin Discovery and everyone involved. Three cheers for Gina and the folks at the DoE. 

    CNS: The name of the business is in the second sentence.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wasn't referring to CNS when I said the Dolphin Discovery name has been omitted in much of the news coverage.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The stingrays shouldn't have a problem intergating back at the Stingray City/Sand Bar, afterall, that is where they came from in the first place. Good work Gina and good work Mark Scotland forthe getting the law passed to protect all stingrays in our territorial waters. You have to give credit where credit is due !!!   

    • Anonymous says:

      I'll give credit when the Marine Conservation Law is passed in full and without putting commercial interests above the marine environment of Cayman. Stop the photo opportunities and the soundbites, get on and protect the entire Cayman marine environment before its too late.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank God for this!! It's about time our lovely stingrays are released back into their natural habitat and not suffering in captavity at the hands of Dolphin Discovery.  I for one have chosen not to support that establishment again for they main fact that they had no intention of releasing these stingrays if this new law had not been passed.  For a Caymanian owned business that is just a disgrace.

    • Anonymous says:

      to be honest you should never have supported them in the first place

  13. Anonymous says:


  14. The Thinker says:

    If stingrays are released to live naturally, why not dolphins?

  15. Ray of Hope says:

    Next up:  release those sorry dolphins. And turn those facilities into water parks if they're only interest is in making money. Every right thinking person knows by now that dolphins suffer slowly when in captivity. And there is no logical reason other than the profit motive to keep these sentient creatures in pens just so people can fondle them. I'm still hoping they go broke.

  16. Anonymous says:

    When do the dolphins get released?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Amazes me what the DOE spends time on and they have that Stinking Mount Trashmore leaching into the North Sound every hour of everyday–a much more critical issue for us….deal with the real environmental issues please.

    CNS: The Department of Environmental Health deals with the dump, the Department of Environment is a separate entity. The DEH cannot do anything about the dump until the government decides on its policy to deal with it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    …they were released into the north sound where two were hit by boat propellers and died and the rest were eaten by a hunger nurse shark….hmmm.

  19. Free Flipper says:

    Shut the parks down, I switch radio stations when any advertising comes on for either of them.