Thursday, March 20, 2008

Saipan's Spotted Eaglerays in FINS Magazine

I had an email today from award-winning professional underwater photographer Doug Perrine alerting me to his most recent article (pdf download) in FINS Magazine. It hit the newsstands today and is exactly what the CNMI needs on a more regular basis. Getting into the mainstream diving media and becoming known for a one-of-a-kind experience is how dive destinations become successful in the short term. Preserving and and regulating the experience so that it can be sustained over time is how successful destinations remain on top. The Cayman Island's Stingray City, Palau's Jellyfish Lake, and the Coral Sea's Cod Hole (off the Great Barrier Reef) are just a few examples of destinations that have taken advantage of what Mother Nature has provided free of charge while finding a way for the main attraction and its spectators to co-exist.
I met Doug about a year ago while he was here diving and writing this story. We've kept in contact regarding the issues facing our eagle ray population. When it was brought to my attention that our rays were being hunted, I contacted Doug in order to ask for his assistance in support of the now passed legislation designed to protect these amazing creatures. It was he who brought it to my attention that nowhere else in the world do Spotted Eagle Rays consistently congregate in numbers so close to shore that divers can experience them like we can here. He has been studying and photographing sharks and rays for much of his life while traveling the globe in search of amazing images so I believe him when he reminds me that Saipan is a truly special place.
Think about that for a second - Nowhere else in the world! - Talk about a signature dive, a dive that can attract even the most seasoned and experienced divers. Of course we can only say that as long as they remain here. If they are gone, Eagle Ray City is nothing more than a sandy bottom and Ice Cream becomes an average dive at best. With them millions of dollars a year is injected into the local economy. To illustrate the potential I'll again comment on Sting Ray City on Grand Cayman. It is estimated that this single dive site alone is directly responsible for over 9 million dollars of revenue a year! Even if we can only boast 10% of that it's nothing to shake a stick at!
When I get my computer back I'll post a little more about our rays. Perhaps we'll see them make a move in the mascot poll and be considered for the RARE pride campaign! For now I encourage everyone to read Doug's article and continue to put pressure on our local authorities to adequately protect them for generations to come. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to suggest that our dive industry and even tourism in general depends on it!


Rose said...

Wow, NICE article! I am pleased to report I saw a flock (?) of 21 rays go over Ice Cream on my last dive there. The most I have seen so far, and so amazing! Then later a pair decided to put on a little acrobatic show for us. They are a treasure of our waters and need to be protected.

Mark James said...

Great article and I wish I could take pictures like that. Thanks for sharing it with us Mike.

KAP said...

Those are great pictures.

The other, well sorry, you make too much sense.

Now, if someone wanted to put up multi-million dollar Eagle Ray World on public beachfront....

BeakerDude said...

Nice article and awesome pictures! :D

Marianas Eye said...

Great news, and congratulations on your Beautify CNMI! award. It was a great concert, despite your absence.

Neutral Dive Gear said...

Staggering photos! Lovin' the blog.

Hey, we'd love to add you to our blogroll... any chance at a reciprocal link?

Keep diving!