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Marine Life & Conservation

Divetech’s Guardian of the Reef Making Himself at Home at Northwest Point

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Since his celebrated sinking on April 12, more that 750 divers, both visitors and locals, have visited Cayman’s newest dive attraction, the Guardian of the Reef.  The bronze sculpture sits on a sandy flat in 60 feet of water just offshore from the Divetech dive shop at Lighthouse Point on Grand Cayman’s Northwest Point, and watches over the reef of this popular dive site.

“Swimming out from shore to see him, it is as if he is greeting you when you arrive in his realm − welcoming you and sort of saying ‘look at the wonders of my realm’,” says Everett Turner, a part-time Lighthouse Point resident and long-time Divetech customer, who was present for the sinking celebrations.

Local underwater cinematographer Frans De Backer recalls his first dive at the site. “As soon as you discover the Guardian in the deep beside the mini-wall at Lighthouse Point, a feeling of mystery overwhelms you. The mystery continues as you approach the 13-­foot bronze statue, half Seahorse, half Mythological Warrior and it’s becoming even stronger as you start diving closely around this morphed creature and look him in the eyes. Sculptor Simon Morris created the eyes in a way that wherever you are, the statue is looking at you and keeping an eye on you, like a true Guardian should.”

“Although the guardian was very impressive on land he’s even more magnificent underwater,” says photographer Ellen Cuylaerts, who first met him in Orlando at the Dive Equipment and Manufacturers Association’s (DEMA) annual convention. “The eye contact with him gives you chills in a good way, makes you humble and inspires you to help him with his task to protect and guard the reefs!”

Divetech owners Jay and Nancy Easterbrook purchased the sculpture as part of the company’s 20th anniversary, and they say this is the Guardian’s primary purpose – to inspire ocean conservation. The popularity of the new dive star is good news for the environment because one dollar from every dive made at the site will be used for ocean conservation education in the local schools. The Easterbrooks are hoping to raise $20,000 the first year, and the money will help support the West Bay Eco Warriors after-school swim/dive programme run by Emma Nicholsby and potentially buy classroom material from Annie Crawley, also known as “Ocean Annie” who has created several conservation programs for kids.

“The Guardian is symbolic for the task that we humans have neglected for decades: we have to take care of our reefs and our oceans. Therefore, I think it’s a great idea that a portion of the dive fee is going to conservation education,” remarks Frans De Backer.

“The Guardian of the Reef is a uniquely wonderful and appropriate figure, aptly named for his purpose of promoting awareness of our fragile oceans,” agrees Everett Turner. “To me, he represents a powerful creature who at the same time is also fragile just like the oceans. They are a very powerful force filled with life forms yet those life forms are fragile and we are in danger of losing them if we don’t take action.”

Divetech began offering dive services on Grand Cayman in 1994 and has always been a champion for Cayman’s underwater world. Nancy and Jay Easterbrook say the Guardian of the Reef and this conservation program allows them to give back to the community.

“It’s been 20 wonderful years, wonderful ocean, wonderful people and we wanted to give back to the community. Seeing him out there now with divers enjoying and being inspired by him, it’s more than we expected, more than we could have hoped for” commented Jay Easterbrook.

As the Guardian of the Reef makes himself at home on the reef, his neighbors, the sea creatures that live there, are also getting to know him. Several days after he was placed on the site, divers found a sea horse not too far from the sculpture. Everett Turner, who as an underwater photographer scours the reef there, looks forward to seeing what creatures and fish he attracts.

“He is resting not too far from some of our favourite areas for finding dwarf frog fish, pipe horses and a multitude of other macro creatures,” he says. “I am hoping he might attract some schools of grunts and jacks and some of the other reef fish that are found just around the corner from him.”

Just getting to know the new kid on the block is fun for Divetech customers, as well as staff members.

“It is awesome to drop down and be face to face with the Guardian of the Reef!” says Emma Nicholsby, who frequently free dives the site with friends.

On a night dive Kara Owens
was impressed. “It’s almost eerie coming along this huge lone statue in the pitch of night, Goosebumps!”

“The Guardian is the perfect addition to one of Grand Cayman’s best reefs, yet when you see him you get the sense he’s been there a long time, and will be there a long time, watching over the reef,” says Nina Baxa.

About Divetech

Divetech is a IANTD Platinum Facility / TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer Facility / PADI 5-Star Resort / PADI TecRec Facility / PADI Project Aware Center / SSI Resort / IANTD & SSI Free Diving Center / BSAC Resort / National Geographic Center/ Scuba Rangers Club / Universal Training Facility / PADI Swim School / DAN Technical Field Research Station full service dive operator with facilities at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort on the tranquil Northwest shore of Boatswain’s Bay, and Lighthouse Point on Northwest Point Road, both located in West Bay just a few miles north of the hustle and bustle of Seven Mile Beach.

Considered one of Grand Cayman’s leading dive operations, Divetech has been providing quality dive services since 1994, and it has earned a reputation as the place to go in Grand Cayman for quality training from kids to trimix with 18 Instructors on staff.  Divetech is Green Globe Certified and is a recipient of the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014 and the PADI Green Star Award. Divetech offers great dive and room packages with its resort partner Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, which has established a reputation for laid back luxury and friendly West Indian hospitality, offering 20 suites and villas, full restaurant and bar, pool and award winning customer service.

For more information

Call: +1 (345) 946-5658

Web: www.divetech.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/DiveTech

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/DiveTech

Marine Life & Conservation

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

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Ocean charity makes initial grant of $90,000 to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organisations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.  The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager Jude Brown commented: “Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA commented: “The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.”


Photo: Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean- Photo credit: Naturepics: Y.+T. Kühnast- all rights reserved

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Marine Life & Conservation

CCMI announces launch of two key projects, supported by RESEMBID

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Building Resilient Reefs

Project title: Increasing Coral Reef Resilience with Assisted Evolution via Selective Restoration

Via this recently awarded RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, CCMI aims to rebuild coral reef ecosystem resilience through cutting-edge restoration techniques. The project will develop assisted evolution methods via selective restoration with stress (heat and disease) tolerant corals, to promote and sustain biodiversity of these threatened ecosystems.

This project will build on CCMI’s past research, incorporating our understanding of coral restoration disease resistance and outplanting methodology, while conducting state of the art experimentation to assess thermal tolerance, all of which will be used to increase the resilience of coral reefs through advanced restoration practices. Visiting collaborator Dr. John Bruno (Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), will be joining the team in the field in April 2022 and will also be present for the press conference. Outcomes from the work will include improved restoration strategies that will be shared regionally – seeking to ultimately increase coral resilience throughout the Caribbean. A short project overview will be given, including the opportunity for Q&As. The press conference will then be followed by a Reef Lecture by Dr John Bruno on the wider threats to global coral reef health.

https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/research/restoration/


Adapting to COVID-19

Project Title: Urgent technical assistance to support CCMI’s capacity to be a regional leader in protecting marine biodiversity and improving resilience.

This project is supported by a RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, which will enable CCMI to manage the impacts of COVID-19 by improving health and safety features of the facilities infrastructure and adapting emergency management processes. The grant will support enhanced operational resilience, thereby supporting CCMI’s continued work on improving and protecting marine biodiversity in the Cayman Islands and wider Overseas Territories.

https://reefresearch.org/who-we-are/field-station/adapting-to-covid-19/

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A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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