The Department of Environment said two recent finds of mutilated eagle ray carcasses are not isolated incidents. The DOE confirms it has received reports of at least four more butchered eagle rays in the last few weeks.
The initial find of a mutilated eagle ray carcass a week ago caused a wave of shock and disgust, but when a second carcass was found yesterday in Bodden Town, the outrage reached a fever pitch.
Friday morning (7 April) Cayman 27 learned the DOE has received reports of four more butchered eagle rays, and they are calling it a senseless shame.
“This is an animal that is beautiful to watch out and that’s wild, natural habitat, it doesn’t have any real meat value,” said DOE chief conservation officer Mark Orr.
Calling it a senseless shame, Mr. Orr said more reports of butchered eagle rays came in to the DOE Friday morning.
“We had a fisherman report that in the last couple of months he seen four eagle rays with their wings cut off, the same as the two that we’ve seen in the last couple weeks.,” said Mr. Orr.
Last week, a fisherman discovered this mutilated eagle ray carcass off east end near tukka… Thursday, another butchered eagle ray was found, this one in bodden town…
Mr. Orr says fishermen have their theories as to how they are being caught.
“Apparently they’re being caught by someone using crab on the line to catch them at night, whether this is true or not we are not sure,” said Mr. Orr.
He said while eagle rays aren’t traditionally used for food in Cayman, other cultures have been known to eat it.
“There are some cultures that will dry the fans, the cartilage, and make a soup very similar to shark fin soup, which is getting all the rage and press around the world, especially from the orient,” he explained. “Apparently it’s used the same way.”
He said culture is no excuse for killing these majestic creatures. He stressed all species of sharks and rays are protected in Cayman waters.
He gave kudos to those who reported these gruesome crimes.
“I wish we had enough officers to patrol every square inch 24/7, as some people have said we need to be,” said Mr. Orr, “But the fact is we don’t, we do rely on the public to report things.”
Under the National Conservation Law, these animals have complete protection.
Even if it’s by accident, if you are caught taking or in any way possessing any species of shark or ray, you could be looking at up to four years in jail, a $5,000 fine, and loss of all equipment used in the offense.