The researchers found that Stingray City's stingrays show distinctly different patterns of activity than their wild counterparts, who don't enjoy daily feedings or close human contact. more
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Tourist-Fed Stingrays Change Their Ways
Stingrays living in one of the world's most famous and heavily visited ecotourism sites -- Stingray City/Sandbar in the Cayman Islands -- have profoundly changed their ways, raising questions about the impact of so-called "interactive ecotourism" on marine wildlife, reports a new study published March 18 in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers from Nova Southeastern University's Guy Harvey Research Institute in Hollywood, Fla. and the University of Rhode Island studied the southern stingray population of Stingray City -- a sandbar in the Cayman Islands that draws nearly a million visitors each year to feed, pet and swim with its stingrays -- to assess how the intensive ecotourism has affected the animals' behavior. "Measuring that impact is important because there's a lot of interest in creating more of these interactive ecotourism operations, but we know little about the life histories of the animals involved or how they might change," said study co-author Guy Harvey, who initiated the project.