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.
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
The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support
With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.
The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.
Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.
The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.
“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”
There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.
This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.
Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”
Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd
This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.
For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.
Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.
“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”
Jim Standing fourth element co-founder
Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE
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