Large Crowd Gathers at Sunset House to Laud the Dive Sites at Risk if Cruise Dock is Approved; Presentation will be taken on the road to other districts
It was standing room only at Sunset House on Friday, July 24th for ‘Exposé’, an educational presentation hosted by Save Cayman. More than 140 people filled an outdoor venue with some sitting on the seawall as they listened to speakers praise the reefs and dive sites of George Town Harbour. On a big screen they watched recently shot videos and photos, taken specifically to showcase the beauty of the marine environment that is just below the surface of the water. The popular dive sites, including Soto’s Reed, Eden Rock, Devil’s Grotto and the historic Wreck of the Balboa, will be destroyed, or severely impacted, by dredging if the government approves a plan to build a $150 million cruise berthing facility in George Town. The actual “cost” of the proposed facility is much more. Actually, another $165 million is the value of the reef to be destroyed, as per the Environmental Impact Assessment.
Save Cayman (www.SaveCayman.org), a grassroots organization, sprang up as a result of an environmental impact study that indicated extensive damage to the dive sites. The movement started with a core of concerned individuals opposed to the project, and has gained momentum and drawn in more volunteers through social media and a local advertising campaign. The aim of ‘Exposé’ is to educate the public about the beauty and frailty of coral reefs and dive sites, and hopefully change minds and hearts.
“I thought it went well − we had a few glitches and technical difficulties − but the overall outcome was great,” said 20-year-old Jessica Lopez, who is one of the organizers of Exposé, and a committed volunteer for Save Cayman. The water enthusiast is a force on social media, reaching out to other millennials in Cayman who will have to live with the government’s decision on the dock project.
“I started snorkeling 9 months ago which turned into free diving, and ever since, I’m in the sea at least three times a week,” says Lopez. “My love for the ocean and free diving has grown immensely. As soon as I heard about what was happening, I felt I really needed to do something. I don’t own a boat so my options for getting out at sea is from the shore. If the harbor is ruined, where would I go free diving?!”
Friday night’s event is the first in a series according to Keith Sahm, Sunset House General Manager, who is spearheading Save Cayman. Known for its outstanding shore diving, Sunset House will be affected by the silt plume that will result from dredging if the project moves ahead.
“We will be doing more presentations to various districts on the island,” he says. “People who attended this first Exposé get the importance of what they are trying to do, the aim is to reach people who don’t know what is underwater.”
The Save Cayman campaign is making good use of social media to get its message across. A “Selfie Challenge” has just been announced to get more young people in the water. Underwater selfies can be taken anywhere from the shallow reefs at Sunset House to those in front of Pageant Beach at the south end of Seven Mile Beach. Contestants can post their selfies online at www.SaveCayman.org. Viewers will vote for the winner by liking their photos and prizes will be awarded. Participants are asked to use the campaign hashtags #SaveCayman #thereisnothingthere.
Proponents of the dock project claim there is nothing on the harbor seabed worth saving, but Save Cayman is out to prove them wrong. Jessica Lopez and fellow volunteers are using social media to help spread the word.
“Facebook has been a powerful tool in connecting the public to this matter,” she said. “I feel people my age are actually interested in this matter as I’ve been able to show them from my underwater pictures just how beautiful it is down there.”
How you can help
Go to www.savecayman.org and click on one of the two buttons under the photos to sign the appropriate petition against the destruction of these precious reefs.
About Sunset House
Sunset House/Sunset Divers has been welcoming divers to the Cayman Islands for more than 55 years. It is the only resort in the Cayman Islands, designed by divers, operated by divers, for divers. It’s also the only resort on Grand Cayman that has its own coral reef, with modern and ancient shipwrecks in shallow water right off shore. Underwater visibility on Sunset House’s reef can exceed 200 feet, and a remarkable variety of marine life to be seen there. Our own spectacular 9’ bronze sculpture of the mermaid Amphitrite is one of the most popular shore dive sites in the world. The resort features 52 guest rooms, including 16 deluxe Oceanview rooms, 2 spacious suites and 2 apartments with full kitchenettes. All rooms are air-conditioned, with phones and private baths. Free Hi-Speed Wireless Internet can be accessed throughout the property and a convenient computer station is located in the lobby. SeaHarvest Restaurant offers full menus for some of the healthiest breakfasts, lunch and dinners around and is famous for its East Indian menu. My Bar a popular hangout for both locals and visitors, has been voted “Best in the Caribbean” by Caribbean Travel and Life and the Best of Cayman. Sunset House also features an inviting seaside fresh water swimming pool.
For information or reservations
Call Toll Free: (800) 854-4767
On Grand Cayman: 345-949-7111