Is Ecotourism Harming Wild Stingrays?

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CCSS NAS-3

Humans are naturally curious -They like to seek out the wildest adventures even if it means intruding on the habitats and lives of other species. Nowhere is this fact more obvious than Stingray City in the Cayman Islands. The popular tourist destination attracts over a million visitors each year, all eager to swim and pet the stingrays that flock to the shallow sandbars in droves.

However, the results of a recent study conducted by a team of scientists led by Mahmood Shivji from the Guy Harvey Research Institute, is raising some concerns about the effects of such ecotourism on the animals. That's because a two-year observation of about 164 stingrays that frequent the area, found some drastic changes in the behavior and lifestyle of the animals.

For one, in the wild stingrays are loners that swim for miles in the darkness of the night, foraging for food. However, at Stingray City where the tourists often feed them, they have become so lazy that they have started to eat during the day and rest at night.

Also, they suddenly do not seem to mind hanging out in close quarters with other stingrays and even form schools, during feeding time. The good news is that when the tourists disappear, the stingrays still seem to know how to fend for themselves.

In addition, instead of having a specific mating season, they are now having babies all year and more alarmingly, displaying very aggressive behavior toward one another - biting more frequently than their counterparts do, in the wild.

Mr. Shivji believes that these changes could be detrimental to the health and well-being of these animals in the wild. Given that we do not know what the long-term impact of these radical lifestyle changes will be on the wild animals, he thinks that we need to do a lot more research, before such areas should be opened to the public.

While the team plans to continue monitoring the Grand Cayman stingrays, any kind of change to the way Stingray City is operated, will be difficult. That's because it generates substantial income for the local economy - If rumors are to be believed, the equivalent of as much as $500,000 USD annually, per stingray!

Resources: Sciencedaily.com, Dailymail.co.uk

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341 Comments
  • traeheart77
    traeheart77Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 8:33 am
    I have been stung by a stingray before but I did not get a barb stuck in me and I am still very young but all you have to do is put it in hot water but I got stung in my bone
    • iheartnutella
      iheartnutellaFriday, December 9, 2016 at 7:15 am
      I feel bad for invading the stingrays space.
      • greenxkiller162Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm
        awesome I want to go!!!!!!!!!!!!
        • i dont careWednesday, December 7, 2016 at 12:02 pm
          cool
          • greenxkiller152Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm
            cool
            • invisibleWednesday, December 7, 2016 at 11:56 am
              woow that's wow
              • AlexThursday, May 5, 2016 at 11:44 am
                Awesome
                • cool guy 35Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 10:55 am
                  sooooooooooo cool i could go there right now
                  • cookiegirlThursday, December 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm
                    aweson
                    • little girlThursday, December 17, 2015 at 7:39 am
                      so cool and cool cool bro