Stingray City, a popular tourist attraction in Grand Cayman, now has a full-time cop on duty in a boat, patrolling the waters and the crowds to ensure the well-being of 200 or so stingrays that are fed by visitors.
Swimmers, snorkelers and divers get up close and personal with the rays, which can grow to a six-foot span. Rays are very docile unless swimmers step on them.
The enforcement officer’s duties are to make sure that visitors do not lift rays out of the water and do not wear footwear while in the water. They also are responsible for ensuring that boat operators are licensed and that vessels anchor in at least three feet of water on the sandbar.
The sandbar at Stingray City has been designated as a wildlife inclusion zone to help protect the rays. They are to be fed only ballyhoo fish and squid, which are brought in by licensed boat operators and limited to one pound per boat.
The rules also stipulate that a maximum of 1,500 visitors and 20 boats are allowed at the sandbar at one time; each boat can stay one hour.
Changes to marine conservation regulations followed several studies, which indicated that the rays had suffered damage in the past, primarily from boat propellers and anchor chains.