“Exposing” the Vibrant Underwater World of George Town Harbour

Cayman in the News 28 July 2015
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

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, July 28, 2015 – 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.

We use Cookies on this website to improve functionality and performance, to analyse traffic to the website and to enable social media features. To learn more, please see our Cookie Notice for details