A fundraising campaign has been launched in Grand Cayman to help finance and sustain a major reef restoration project currently being done by volunteer divers supported by local dive operators, and overseen by the Cayman Islands Department of Environment. During the past five months volunteers have donated hundreds of man-hours to repair the devastating damage caused when a cruise ship dragged its anchor across a dive site in August. Diving from shore and on weekend boat trips donated Red Sail Sports, Divetech and other operators, the volunteers have removed tons of rubble and salvaged pieces of live coral to be replanted in the restoration process. Now they’re fanning out into the community to help raise money to keep going.
“Everyone’s been giving of themselves to the project, so we have decided to have a fundraiser to recoup some expenses, buy supplies and go forward,” said Keith Sahm, General Manager for Sunset House and co-coordinator of the project. “The goal is to raise $10,000 and we’ve got the Cayman government’s full backing.”
Sahm says marine science experts have suggested capping the scarred area on the reef base with concrete to keep the particles and silt from floating around and affecting nearby live corals, so bags of cement are needed for that phase of the project. A special marine epoxy to reattach live corals to the base must also be ordered. Some live corals have already been reattached in surrounding reef and they are doing well according to project co-coordinator Lois Hatcher of Ocean Frontiers, who is experienced with this coral restoration technique.
“Its amazing! The ones we replanted look really good,” she says, giving credit to the whole team of volunteer divers who are a part of this daunting project, expected to take a year to complete. “We’re lucky to have a good strong core of volunteers who care deeply and are dedicated to the effort. Everyone is working well together.”
“We are headed there slowly,” added Keith Sahm.
The volunteers are now knocking on doors in Cayman’s business community soliciting donations for the cause. A fundraising event is also planned for Friday, February 27 at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal on the waterfront in George Town. The fundraising festivities will be held in late afternoon after the cruise ship traffic has cleared. Organizers are lining up music, sponsors and prizes for a silent auction and drawings. T-shirts are also being printed for the cause and will be available for purchase.
Donations for the Magic Reef Restoration Project can also be made online with the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. Online contributions must be designated for the Environmental Programs listed on the giving page.
Response so far from Cayman’s community is generous says Hatcher, adding that some people have come forward to donate supplies without being asked. So everyone involved with the restoration project is hoping for a successful campaign.
“We’re working to save Cayman’s marine environment for the future so we can’t afford for it not to be a success,” she said.
You can also visit the Cayman Magic Reef Restoration Project Facebook Page Cayman Magic Reef Restoration.
The Cayman Bottom Times is news collaboration by five leading dive operators to promote the superb diving of the Cayman Islands, and keep the diving public informed of important developments and events. Divetech, Ocean Frontiers, Red Sail Sports and Sunset House in Grand Cayman, and the Southern Cross Club in Little Cayman, all members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, represent more than 100 years of solid experience in a destination that is recognized as the birthplace of recreational diving. With a unique combination of deep wall and shallow reef diving, several wrecks, and world-famous Stingray City, the Cayman Islands has cemented its place as the top diving destination in the Caribbean.
Offering diverse and wide-ranging dive programs on both Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, the members of this dive group represent the best Cayman has to offer; Divetech (www.divetech.com), Ocean Frontiers (www.oceanfrontiers.com), Red Sail Sports Grand Cayman (www.redsailcayman.com), Sunset House (www.sunsethouse.com) and the Southern Cross Club (www.southerncrossclub.com).