With crystal clear waters, white sand, stingrays, and colourful marine life, Cayman is a naturally beautiful habitat that fosters an incredibly biodiverse community of wild animals both in the water and on the shore. Cayman is consistently ranked as one of the top countries in the world for diving, so we are delving a little deeper into the marine life of the Cayman Islands, the incredible lifestyle, and what exactly allows many to have this paradise on their doorstep!
The Notorious Stingray City
In the shallow waters of the North Sound, Stingray City sits inside our barrier reef making for a placid and peaceful gathering place for all kinds of marine life. In particular, giant stingrays love to gather here, and while the exact reason for that concentration of a specific species in this area isn’t exactly clear, there are some theories. People and stingrays have a long history together in Cayman and it’s believed that the calm waters in the sound made for an ideal location for local fishermen to gather in masses to clean the day’s catch before heading into the harbour, attracting the local rays.
Along with stingrays, you can also find other marine life nearby including fish, turtles and even the occasional reef shark.
Proactively Protecting Marine Life
As the number of tourists and visitors have grown, the Cayman Islands Government has taken proactive steps to preserve this unique ecosystem. The stingrays are under full legal protection and it is now illegal to take, injure, or possess stingrays, eagle rays and mantas, along with several other protected species. The Department of Environment also introduced guidelines to manage traffic and handling of the rays in stingray sites.
These actions were widely welcomed by the public, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, and the marine conservation business sector. The stingrays now enjoy full protection and visitors are educated by knowledgeable staff in ways to handle stingrays safely. Stingray health and dynamics are regularly monitored by the Department of Environment, and the population that frequents Stingray City has been stable at around one hundred stingrays.
A Turtle Safe Haven
While stingrays are an important part of marine life in the Cayman Islands, they are not the only species that is being preserved. Turtle conservation efforts are at the forefront of environmental protection, with Cayman Turtle Centre offering a unique place for tourists to experience first-hand encounters with Cayman sea turtles in a safe environment. The centre also manages a local turtle release programme, increasing sightings of green sea turtles by locals across the islands.
Encouraging Conservation Tourists
Cayman has also become a leader in Marine Conservation Tourism, with activities that vary from replanting corals, maintaining coral nurseries, and education about unique species and ecosystems.
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, for example, works alongside programmes in Cayman at Nova Southeastern University to conduct research into shark migration and stingray monitoring, as well as raising awareness and funds to support local programs that can be delayed due to complex funding channels. The more environmentally aware people are that travel and learn from Cayman, the greater difference can be made of conservation in our own waters, as well as on a global scale.
An Extension on Marine Parks
As of March 9, around 48% of Cayman’s waters have been included under new marine park legislation. In an effort to conserve our pristine waters, the government has announced laws regarding fishing, protecting endangered species, as well reducing the impact of anchors on the coral reef and seabed which apply to visitors and locals alike.
Collective Efforts Bring Locals Together (And Keep Beaches Pristine)
The conservation mindset is not limited to a few here in Cayman. For example, local volunteers from Plastic Free Cayman, Little Cayman National Trust, Central Caribbean Marine Institute, the Department of Environment, Southern Cross Club, Little C Tours and Protect Our Future managed to remove more than 1.5 tons of rubbish in a two-day clean-up effort to clean and raise awareness of plastics and microplastics on marine life.
Beach clean up days like this are organizing regularly, allowing volunteers to do their part to help keep our island pristine and cared for!
A Top Destination for All Lifestyles
It is no surprise then that the Cayman lifestyle is considered one of the best in the world in large part thanks to hard work that goes into preserving our idyllic islands!
Cayman is popular with tourists, providing further incentive that sets the islands apart as an international destination. Tourists flock to Cayman because they know they’ll get the best possible experience of a tropical paradise. The clear blue waters are an ideal destination for water enthusiasts and activities like stand up paddle boarding, kitesurfing, jet skiing, sailing, kayaking and even surfing. Cayman is also a true snorkeler and diver’s dream. Areas like Pat’s Wall allows divers to explore remote and dramatic locations like the Cayman Trench drop-off as well as the rich reef life, coral, reef sharks, and lovable Nassau Groupers of Bloody Bay Wall.
For those who prefer solid ground, the outdoor lifestyle continues, offering options such as the shopping and entertainment district of Camana Bay, the Cayman Islands brewery, as well as yoga and Tai-chi on Seven Mile Beach.
Expats That Never Want to Leave
Cayman is truly home to those who love the outdoor lifestyle as it has so much to offer! Stingray City and Cayman Turtle Centre are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. From iguanas on land to dolphins out at sea, there are many ways for visitors to enjoy the wealth of animal life that make Cayman home. Not only is sun, sand and surf available in abundance, but there are also plenty of family-friendly activities to make it a go-to destination to settle down and find a home. Sailing camps are popular at school half term and children as young as 10 can start on their diving journey with one of the many dive shops on the islands.
Businesses Creating Permanent Presence in Cayman
With such a stunning backdrop and the fantastic resources available on the islands, it’s no wonder that increasing numbers of international businesses are choosing to create a permanent presence in Cayman. From Cayman’s innovative Special Economic Zone to a world-renowned financial services centre and the promise of political stability in paradise, tied together with our abundance of marine life and outdoor lifestyle opportunities, it’s easy to see why Cayman attracts more than just stingrays!