A family in Western Australia was left “devastated” after making a gruesome discovery on the banks of a popular river in Perth.
“Awful find out the front of Zephyr Cafe today while looking for the local stingray that visits,” the parent wrote on social media. “[We] found this instead.”
In a series of images the remains of a stingray can be seen in the shallows of the Swan River in East Fremantle with its wings hacked off. “Our kids were devastated,” the Facebook user added. “Who does this? Massive blood trail, missing wings and speared in the head. Who can we notify? Fisheries?”
Not the first time this has happened
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) said it received Fishwatch reports last week “which appear to be related to the social media post”. But tragically it’s not the first incident of its kind.
“We have had several similar reports (of ray bodies minus wings) in the Swan River in the past 12 months,” a spokesperson said.
However, nothing about this practice is illegal.
Fishers are allowed to take the wings of eagle rays — the species found — and won’t face any repercussions for leaving the decimated creature in this state. However, it is frowned upon by the DPIRD.
“This incident is not an acceptable recreational fishing practice,” the spokesperson said. “At all times, we urge fishers to keep the environment clean and pristine.” This includes “not dumping fish frames or offal near boat ramps or popular swimming beaches”. And for good reason.
“Decaying fish matter can attract sharks and impact other beach users,” the DPIRD spokesperson explained. “If there is no bin available, we advise fishers to take the unwanted part of the catch home to fertilise a garden or to freeze and then dispose of through their household rubbish system”.
While the department added that it was unlikely that the eagle ray had been speared in the head, explaining that it was common practice by fishers to use a knife to dispatch stingrays.
Social media outrage
The Facebook post has since gone viral, with locals horrified at the find.
“So totally horrendous,” one woman wrote. “So sorry your kiddos had to see this. There are really some sick people around.
“There are much better ways to dispose of unwanted fish bits, especially in public areas like that,” another added. “Poor thing, that’s terrible,” someone else commented.
While people are encouraged to report any suspected illegal fishing to FishWatch so it can be followed up by DPIRD Fisheries Officers.
FishWatch reports can be made via the CrimeStoppers webpage or by calling 1800 815 507.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.