Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation sets a new record for its bi-annual stingray survey.
A team of scientists and volunteers processed a whopping 113 stingrays over three days last weekend at the stingray sandbar.
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation told Cayman 27 its stingray census is the longest running study of any wildlife interactive site in the world.
Twice a year, the Guy Harvey team takes a snapshot of the stingray sandbar population, counting the individual rays and assessing their health.
With information dating back to 2002, it’s an important barometer for the overall health of this very economically important population.
“What’s great is that we actually got our record number of rays this year, 113 at stingray city sandbar,” said Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation project manager Jessica Harvey.
Ms. Harvey told Cayman 27 the twice-yearly census gives researchers valuable insight into the overall health of the population.
“We’ve learned a lot over the years, the fact that the dynamics have changed, from them being more active at night to be more active in the day, the fact that they are such a big difference in numbers of females to males, all of this is learned through the efforts of this research project,” said Ms. Harvey.
For six consecutive surveys, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation has reached triple digits. But as recently as 2012 the population appeared in trouble, when the numbers dipped to around 60.
“If you don’t have the data that’s needed to kind of show the trend over time, you won’t be able to quickly react,” said Ms. Harvey.
One key to the long-running project’s continued success: volunteers like year 12 Cayman prep student Chris Touhey.
“I think it’s cool because it is important to make sure that the population is not decreasing, and increasing because there is so much tourism around there and stingrays can get hurt by tourists or by boats,” said Mr. Touhey.
Ms. Harvey told Cayman 27 she hopes the long-running research project will continue well into the future.
“We intend to continue with the survey for as long as we can, it is very important from a species management perspective for the island as well as from the management of such an incredible resource to the economy,” said Ms. Harvey.
Now take a look at this, this graph shows the population rebound from its low point in the 2012 surveys.
By 2014 and 2015 the numbers were up into the ’80s and ’90s for the most part- even flirting with 100 a couple times before finally surpassing that century mark in July 2016.
Since then, it’s been at or over 100 for six consecutive surveys.