Dive and water sports operators in Grand
Cayman reported no negative feedback or tour cancellations
following the Sept. 6 death of TV star Steve Irwin from a stingray
stab while filming a documentary off the coast of his native
Irwin, best known
as the host of the Animal Planet show "The Crocodile Hunter," died
Sept. 4 when a stingray's poisonous barb pierced him in the chest
off the coast of Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef.
Stingray City in
Grand Cayman, one of the most popular attractions in the Cayman
Islands for both cruise and land-based visitors, is a patch of
shallow water over a string of sand bars that cross North
The stingrays have
gathered in the area for years to feed on the guts of fish cleaned
In the late 1980s
divers started feeding squid to the stingrays. Now, dozens of
stingrays congregate each day looking for and getting handouts from
snorkelers, divers or tourists in glass-bottom boats.
Water sports and
dive operators in Grand Cayman agreed that Irwin's death was a
freak accident involving a normally placid sea creature.
president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, called Irwin's
death "a tragic loss of a passionate environmentalist."
chairman of CITA's Watersports Committee, pointed out that "not all
stingrays are the same, and there are about 200 species of
He said that
"Australia is home to some of the deadliest creatures on the
planet. Many of their less harmful cousins live in the Caribbean
and other parts of the world."
The barb in a
stingray can take a long time to grow, according to
"It is thought that
the use of this barb is deployed only as a defense resort in
situations where the stingray fears for its life," he
that the impact of Irwin's death on tourism numbers to Stingray
City would be "minimal."
effect is more likely to be with snorkelers than with divers," he
said. "Divers tend to be more educated about marine creatures and
have a better understanding of hazardous marine life."
But Broadbelt also
cited a need to regulate the procedures used at Stingray City,
saying, "The manhandling of stingrays and lifting them from the
water is both cruel and dangerous."
He called for
implementing recommendations "to protect and manage our stingray
"It is hoped that
the new Special Management Zone regulations become law as soon as
possible," he said, adding that more than five years had been spent
in compiling comprehensive recommendations for the protection and
management of the Stingray City attractions.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send
e-mail to [email protected]