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Marine Life & Conservation

Ocean Frontiers Turning its Customers Green

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Dive Operator’s “Green Shorts Challenge” keeps guests coming back for more East End diving year after year

Ocean Frontiers staffers in company teal green swim shorts are a familiar fixture on Grand Cayman’s remote East End, manning the dive shop at the Compass Point Resort or driving the dive boats and guiding dives. Those signature Ocean Frontiers green shorts have become a “hot ticket” item and status symbol among the company’s die-hard customers. Guests can win their own pair of green shorts if they dive all 55 dive sites at East End first – it’s called the “Green Shorts Challenge”.

“My goal in starting the challenge was to get my customers interested in the diversity of diving on this side of the island because I thought some of them weren’t seeing it,” says Steve Broadbelt, co-owner of Ocean Frontiers. “This is a motivation for them and it’s working.”

“I have completed the Green Shorts Challenge – as a matter of fact, I’ve completed the 55 dives twice and am well on my way to the third,” says Cecilia Sharp, who with her husband, has been diving with Ocean Frontiers since 2007. “We basically eat, sleep and dive for our stays at Compass Point Resort – which may last from one to three weeks.  Rolling out of bed and walking to the boat is the best way to start any day on Grand Cayman.”

When a customer signs on for the Green Shorts Challenge, their dive history is recalled from Ocean Frontiers’ customized reservations system. The customer gets a printout of past dives to determine the dive sites they’ve visited and which dive sites they still need to dive.  The customer then receives a challenge punch card with the dive sites listed, and every time they complete a new dive their card gets punched.

Once the challenge is met and all 55 dive sites have been visited, there is a celebration at the Ocean Frontiers dock complete with champagne and cake. The customer then receives his or her own pair of personalized teal shorts, a gold medal with the ‘Challenge’ crest cast into it hanging from a teal green ribbon, and a bronze plaque with their name on the dive dock at Compass Point Resort. The guest then becomes a part of Ocean Frontiers’ dive history and they proudly wear their green shorts at Compass Point Resort.

“It is an elite crowd!” says Divemaster Brittainy Slade. “The Green Shorts challenge is exciting for the guests, it gives them an end goal, something to aspire to!”

Slade says Ocean Frontiers staffers also get excited when a challenge is about to be completed and the activity on the dive boats is upbeat. “We all work hard and pray to the weather gods so guests can complete those last sites – we like cake and champagne too! And the celebrations are fun for everyone.”

Steve Broadbelt estimates that it takes about five visits to the island for a guest to complete the Green Shorts Challenge.  Customers are signing up and returning to Grand Cayman, often twice a year, to dive those East End sites. More than 100 divers have completed the challenge since the Ocean Frontiers launched it two years ago.

“Even if they have been coming to Cayman for 10 years, we take them somewhere they’ve never been and we go out of our way to show them something they’ve never seen before,” he says. “Every day, every dive and every diver is unique and our goal is to know our divers and deliver the unexpected. Even seasoned divers are not beyond a ‘wow’ during one of our dives!”

Its this kind of attention to the customer’s dive experience that has made Ocean Frontiers a top dive operator. The company ranked highest in the Cayman Islands in the “Best Dive Operator” category of Scuba Diving’s 2014 Top 100 Readers Choice Awards.  Founded in 1996, Ocean Frontiers is also one of Cayman’s most conservation-minded dive operations. Turning customers green, not only means awarding them a pair of green shorts, it also means making them aware of Cayman’s marine environment. Dive masters not only show guests the vibrant reefs and marine life of East End, they are also good stewards who educate visitors about conservation.

“Working for Ocean Frontiers requires putting in that extra effort to provide the green shorts service that we are known for,” says divemaster Becca Nutsch. “Sometimes this means working a bit harder, but it definitely pays off, especially when you see customers come back time and time again.”

“We were drawn to Ocean Frontiers by the great reviews of the operation and the quiet side of the island,” says Cecelia Sharp. “The staff at Ocean Frontiers is like family to us and we are spoiled by their Green Shorts service.  No request is denied.  They anticipate our needs and strive to make every diver happy and safe on the boat and in the water.”

Steve Broadbelt says the Green Shorts Challenge has been a great incentive program for the company and almost 50% of Ocean Frontiers divers are now return guests.  Alumni help spread the word about this exciting dive challenge at East End. New customers also see what’s going on in the dive boats and they want to sign up too.

“It’s working,” he says. “They are buying those tickets and coming back.”

About Ocean Frontiers and Compass Point Dive Resort

Ocean Frontiers Dive Shop is located at Compass Point Dive Resort on the remote East End of Grand Cayman. Founded in 1996 with one dive boat and a dream to introduce divers to the wonders of East End diving, the company has grown into one of Cayman’s premier dive operations with a reputation for catering to small groups and having the island’s friendliest staff.  Ocean Frontiers is also recognized as one of the most conservation-minded dive operators in the Cayman Islands with a long history of promoting ocean protection through its company programs, and an unwavering support for outside environmental projects. The winner of Project AWARE’s Environmental Achievement Award in 2004 and 2010, Ocean Frontiers has again been recognized in 2012. The company also received the PADI Green Star Dive Center accreditation in 2012 for demonstrating a dedication to conservation, the first dive operator in the Cayman Islands to receive this distinction.

The Compass Point Dive Resort, which received the Green Globe Certification award in 2010 for sustainable tourism, is the epitome of laidback luxury. It features 28 luxurious one, two and three bedroom oceanfront, ocean view and poolside condominiums, each with its own private patio or balcony and all beautifully decorated with stylish island décor, and fully equipped with all of the comforts of home. Eagle Ray’s Dive Bar and Grill is now open for business at the resort.

 For more information:

Call Toll Free: 1 800-348-6096, Grand Cayman call +1 (345) 640 7500

E-mail: info@oceanfrontiers.com Website: www.oceanfrontiers.com

Facebook.com/caymanscubadiving

Twitter.com/oceanfrontiers

LinkedIn:  Ocean Frontiers

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Preserving Paradise: Seacology’s Island Conservation Mission

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seacology

Islands are not just pieces of land surrounded by water; they are sanctuaries of biodiversity, cradles of unique cultures, and vital components of our planet’s ecological balance. However, these paradises face numerous threats ranging from habitat destruction to climate change. Recognizing the urgency of protecting these fragile ecosystems, Seacology has emerged as a beacon of hope, championing the preservation of island habitats worldwide while empowering local communities. In this article, we are diving into Seacology’s mission, its global impact, and its generous support for key conservation initiatives in Curaçao.

The Seacology Story:

Seacology, founded in 1991 by Dr. Paul Alan Cox (American ethnobotanist), operates on a simple yet powerful principle: conservation through collaboration. Unlike traditional conservation organizations, Seacology adopts a community-driven approach, partnering directly with island communities to address their needs while safeguarding precious ecosystems.

seacology

At the heart of Seacology’s philosophy lies the belief that sustainable conservation can only be achieved by empowering those who depend on the natural resources of their islands. By working hand in hand with local stakeholders, Seacology fosters a sense of ownership and stewardship, ensuring long-term protection for vital habitats.

A Global Impact of Seacology

Since its inception, Seacology has made remarkable strides in protecting island ecosystems across the globe. Through innovative projects and strategic partnerships, the organization has conserved millions of acres of marine and terrestrial habitat, spanning more than 60 countries.

What sets Seacology apart is its holistic approach, which integrates conservation efforts with community development initiatives. By providing tangible benefits such as clean water, education, and healthcare, Seacology incentivizes local communities to actively participate in conservation efforts, forging a sustainable path towards coexistence with nature.

Curaçao: A Jewel in the Caribbean Crown

Located in the crystalline waters of the Southern Caribbean Sea, Curaçao boasts stunning coral reefs, lush mangroves, and vibrant marine life. However, like many island nations, Curaçao faces a myriad of challenges including overfishing, habitat degradation, and climate change impacts.

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In 2024, Seacology’s commitment to island conservation took center stage in Curaçao, where the organization provided generous support for three key initiatives: Reef Renewal Curaçao, Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, and the Queen Conch Hatchery. Additionally, Seacology provided additional funding to advance sustainable fishing practices through educational programs.

Reef Renewal Curaçao

Coral reefs are the lifeblood of marine ecosystems, supporting a quarter of all marine species despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor. However, these invaluable ecosystems are under siege from rising sea temperatures, pollution, and destructive fishing practices.

seacology

Reef Renewal Curaçao, a flagship project supported by Seacology, aims to reverse the decline of coral reefs by implementing innovative coral propagation and restoration techniques. By engaging local communities in reef restoration efforts, Seacology is optimistic that their support will enable Reef Renewal Curaçao to continue their important work revitalizingd amaged ecosystems and fostering a sense of stewardship among residents.

Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao

For millions of years, sea turtles have roamed the world’s oceans, serving as keystone species and indicators of ecosystem health. Yet, these ancient mariners face numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching, and accidental capture in fishing gear.

seacology

In collaboration with Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, Seacology is supporting their efforts to protect Curaçao’s sea turtle populations through research, monitoring, and community outreach. By raising awareness about the importance of sea turtles and implementing measures to mitigate threats, Seacology is aiding Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao to safeguard these iconic creatures for future generations to admire.

The Queen Conch Hatchery

Conch, revered for their succulent meat and ornate shells, are a cultural and culinary staple in many island communities. However, unregulated harvesting has led to depleted populations, jeopardizing both ecological balance and traditional livelihoods.

In Curaçao, Seacology’s support for the Queen Conch Hatchery initiative aims to conserve dwindling conch populations through captive breeding and sustainable harvesting practices. By collaborating with local fishermen and authorities, Seacology is helping to ensure that conch populations thrive while preserving cultural traditions and supporting coastal communities.

The project “Conquer the Future” is investigating the mortality and growth of Queen Conch juveniles, cultured at Curacao Sea Aquarium, after they have been outplanted in the wild. These experiments with small numbers of Queen Conch will take place in both Curaçao (Spanish Water) and Bonaire (Lac Bay). WWF-Dutch Caribbean is the main sponsor of this project, Seacology is the co-sponsor.

Advancing Sustainable Fishing Practices

Fishing is an integral part of Curaçao’s economy and culture, but unsustainable practices have led to overfishing and the depletion of key fish species. Recognizing the need for change, Seacology has provided a grant to the Federation of Cooperative Production (FKUP) to support innovative educational programs aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices.

Through this initiative, Seacology hopes to instill a sense of environmental stewardship among local fishers. The educational programs focus on teaching sustainable fishing techniques, such as selective gear use, seasonal restrictions, and size limits, which help protect juvenile fish and allow populations to recover. Additionally, the programs emphasize the importance of marine conservation, the impact of overfishing on the ecosystem, and the benefits of sustainable practices for future generations.

seacology

By supporting the FKUP, Seacology is helping to ensure that local fishers have the knowledge and resources to adopt sustainable practices. This not only helps preserve fish stocks and marine biodiversity but also secures the livelihoods of fishing communities in the long term.

WWF-Dutch Caribbean supported in 2023 the first round of the sustainable fishing training organized by FKUP in Curaçao. Due to lack of budget at WWF-DC, FKUP has been looking for another sponsor for this training. They found Seacology to fund more training.

A Beacon of Hope for Island Conservation

In a world grappling with environmental crises, Seacology stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through passion, perseverance, and partnership. By empowering island communities, Seacology not only protects precious ecosystems but also enriches lives and preserves cultural heritage.

As we navigate the uncertain waters of the 21st century, organizations like Seacology remind us that the fate of our planet lies in our hands. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, we can safeguard the treasures of our islands and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

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Summer means it’s time to go ‘Fertilizer-Free for Manatees’ to protect Florida’s waterways

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Nutrient pollution poses a significant threat to Florida’s delicate ecosystem, leading to harmful algal blooms in both coastal and inland waters

Summer is here, and Save the Manatee® Club is excited to share our Fertilizer-Free for Manatees™ campaign. The campaign aims to underscore that while addressing the overall problem requires a multifaceted approach, the actions of each Florida resident can make a big difference for the health of our waterways.

Starting June 1 and running through September 30, this initiative aims to encourage Florida residents to take a pledge to be fertilizer-free, thereby reducing their contribution to nutrient pollution in the state’s waterways.

manatee

What is Nutrient Pollution?

Nutrient pollution refers to the presence of excess nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, in water bodies. These nutrients often come from agricultural runoff, wastewater, and the use of fertilizers on lawns and landscapes. While nutrients are essential for plant growth, an overabundance can lead to significant environmental problems.

How Does Nutrient Pollution Cause Harm?

Nutrient pollution poses a significant threat to Florida’s delicate ecosystem, leading to harmful algal blooms (HABs) in both coastal and inland waters. The Indian River Lagoon, a critical habitat for manatees, has been particularly affected, with devastating algal blooms causing the loss of native seagrass. Seagrass is essential for manatees as it is their primary food source. When seagrass is lost, manatees are at risk of starvation. Tragically, this has resulted in the starvation and death of numerous imperiled manatees since 2020.

Furthermore, the occurrence of red tide, a natural phenomenon characterized by the proliferation of toxic algae, can be exacerbated by excessive nitrogen and phosphorus inputs from human sources such as fertilizer and wastewater. Red tide not only affects marine life but can also cause respiratory issues in humans and economic losses for coastal communities.

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Photo: David Schrichte

In pledging to be Fertilizer-Free for Manatees, Floridians commit to:

  • Avoid fertilizer use on lawns and landscapes
  • Conserve water by irrigating only when necessary
  • Keep grass clipping out of streets, waterbodies, and swales
  • Learn about Florida-Friendly Landscaping to protect waterway

“Human nutrient pollution from various sources has been a major driver of the harmful algal blooms that have led to a catastrophic number of manatee deaths in recent years,” said Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “The Fertilizer-Free for Manatees campaign aims to educate the public about how their individual actions, which may seem small, can have a cumulative healing effect on the overall health of our Florida waterways. Together, we can all take steps at home to protect imperiled manatees and their essential habitat.”

For more information on the “Fertilizer-Free for Manatees™” campaign and how you can get involved, please visit fertilizerfree.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with the late former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

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