Environmental Protection Agency EPA has issued a stark warning against feeding and handling all species of stingrays.

EPA said that Stingray feeding- although a popular tourism activity, is linked to various negative impacts on stingray health, behavior, and ecology, such as the development of shoaling behavior, altered feeding habits & skin abrasions from handling that compromise their immune system.

The Agency explained it is also possible that some behavioral modifications are being learned and transmitted to new generations of rays, risking long-term changes to ray populations where frequent feeding occurs.

EPA said that it was extremely concerned about the effects of consistently high levels of feeding and visitation upon the stingray populations across the Maldives, and an urgent need has been identified for long-term monitoring and phasing out of the practice.

It urged all resorts, guest houses, and other tour operators to refrain from these harmful practices, and instead create an atmosphere for visitors to safely interact with wildlife in their natural environment.

EPA reminded that all species of rays are listed as protected species under the Env Act (4/93) Protected Species Regulation (R-25/2021).

It further warned that Feeding/handling any species of rays is a violation under this regulation & action will be taken against those who continue to partake in these activities.