Sharks are protected under the National Conservation Act (2013, in force since 2015) because of their socio-economic and ecological benefits to the islands. In the Cayman Islands, it is illegal to “take” any shark within coastal or offshore waters. “Take” means it is illegal to harm, possess or kill a shark with stiff penalties if convicted (NAC, 2013).
Do not feed sharks! It is prohibited to feed any wildlife, with the exception of the sting rays at Stingray City (within the Wildlife Interaction Zone) in the Cayman Islands (NAC, 2013).
Please report suspicious behaviour or ongoing crimes to DoE conservation officers (916-4271). They will respond immediately and investigate.
Threats To Sharks
Sharks are particularly vulnerable to human disturbances in Cayman. Sharks grow slowly, mature late, have long pregnancies and low fecundity (small numbers of pups per litter) so for natural increases in shark populations to occur it can take decades. The main threat is fishing, yet other threats to sharks also include coastal development, habitat degradation, pollution and climate change.
Local threats to sharks:
- Injuries or death through accidental catch.
- Death from entanglement in abandoned fishing gear.
- Habitat destruction & degradation through coastal development, removal of mangroves and pollution.
- Disturbance through human in-water activities (including SCUBA diving, boat traffic, jet skis).
Accidentally Caught A Shark? Release It
Sharks play a vital role in maintaining a healthy marine environment and are an important non-consumptive resource for Cayman’s marine-based economy. We all need to do our part to protect sharks, which will then benefit our reefs and the other fish that live in our waters. DoE asks the public to be vigilant and release any accidentally caught sharks.
🦈 Release the shark.
🦈 Remove the hook if possible and comfortable to do so OR cut the line as close to the hook as possible. Use circle hooks because these are less likely to hook the shark in the gut and are easier to remove.
🦈 Use non-stainless steel hooks because they will rust out relatively quickly if the hook remains in the shark, thus improving the animal’s chances of survival.
🦈 Avoid any additional injuries to the shark and limit the amount of time spent handling it because the stress can cause the animal to die post release.
Let us know
Some sharks do not survive the accidental catch, especially when caught at deep depths. Please call the DoE office (949-8469) or DoE conservation officers (916-4271) to report a dead shark. If possible the officer will collect the specimen for necropsy. This allows us to collect biological information. Both sighting and necropsy data are important for the monitoring of our sharks.