Starfish Point is a tourist favorite, one of the most common stops for tour operators. But one water sports business owner says visitors are not taking care of the very creatures that make the area so popular. Cayman 27’s Philipp Richter reports.
Starfish Point is one of Cayman’s most recognized attractions, but one tour operator says that some tourists are doing more harm than good.
“You can touch them, you can take a photo as long as you make sure you keep them under the surface, that will always keep them safe,” said Gefferson Tatum, tour operator for The Sweet Spot.
The tour operator said the Starfish population was much higher four years ago. But he’s seen a decline in numbers and he’s blaming visitors who take the animal out of the water.
“Now eventually you put it down, the Starfish will go away, there is no doubt about that, so people figure they are not hurting it at that point, but later on or the following day that air will start affecting its body inside out, which is going to start to make the Starfish float up to the shoreline and eventually die after all,” said Mr. Tatum.
Mr. Tatum said some tour operators do not inform their passengers about how to correctly interact with the Starfish.
“Some people will come around and never seen a Starfish before in their life so they are not aware what they are actually causing and it only takes about 5 minutes for a captain to come in, takes 5 minutes to give these passengers a quick briefing,” said Mr. Tatum.
He said the Department of Environment has done a good job putting up signs informing people about marine life etiquette, but wishes there were more detailed information and an on-site presence.
“And some people still take time and read it and ignores it and goes out there and still do the same thing, so if they could have some sort of security or somebody who can spend more time on that area,” said Mr. Tatum.
Mr. Tatum worries the way things are going, there won’t be a Starfish Point to go to in the future.
On the website for the Department of Environment, it states that Echinoderms (includes starfish, sea eggs/urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars) may not be taken from Cayman waters at any time.