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This Sonoran city removed the spines from hundreds of stingrays on its beaches

Preparing for an influx of tourists during Semana Santa — or Holy Week — a coastal Sonoran town removed the spines from hundreds of stingrays on its beaches.

The ecology department in the coastal town of Huatabampo spurred outrage this week for what many are calling animal mutilation.

Wildlife veterinarian Elsa Coria Galindo, director of the wildlife rescue CRRIFS, says removing stingrays’ spines could put the species at risk, leaving it defenseless from predators as well as beachgoers who can harm the animals by stepping on them.

She says there is no evidence removing the spines is safe for the stingrays, and some studies show it is ineffective at preventing stings because the animals move from beach to beach.

It’s especially tragic, she says, because people can easily avoid stings just by shuffling their feet as they enter the water.

Huatabampo Mayor Juan Jesús Flores Mendoza has said he did not approve of the spine removals and has suspended the person responsible.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.