Divetech’s FOCUS UNDERWATER A few spots still available

5th Annual event in Grand Cayman is a good place for all levels of underwater photographers to learn from the best in the dive business

Divetech is hosting the 5th annual FOCUS UNDERWATER (previously Tek Week), an annual event that brings together underwater photographers, ocean conservationists and rebreather enthusiasts, at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort in Grand Cayman August 24–31, 2013. Participating divers will enjoy world class diving on the North Wall and Northwest Point while sharing their passion for the sea with professionals from the rebreather   diving world and the underwater imaging industry who are there to share what they know and the show the latest equipment on the market.  Attending FOCUS UNDERWATER are well-known dive industry personalities Ryan Canon from Reef Photo & Video, Chris Parsons from Nauticam, Curt Bowen from Advanced Diver Magazine, Paul Barnett from Light & Motion and Adam Hanlon from Wetpixel, plus Mike Fowler from Silent Diving, Doug Ebersole from KISS Rebreathers, Eric Keibler from Oceanic Ventures and Peter Sotis from Add Helium.

Divetech owner Nancy Easterbrook says this combination of pros with knowledge and divers who want to know more, thrown into the diving mix for a week, is an exciting opportunity for everyone to learn.  “There’s a tremendous amount of talent at FOCUS UNDERWATER, so no matter where people are, they can learn so much,” she says. “This event is open to recreational and technical OC and CCR divers – new photo buffs and experienced shooters are all welcome.”

Divers who sign up for the event will have the chance to test the latest in underwater housings, strobes and cameras from Reef Photo & Video and Nauticam. In addition to diving with the professionals, they will learn about new products and technologies, or test the latest in rebreathers.  FOCUS UNDERWATER includes six days of open-deck boat trips, unlimited shore diving with incredible macros opportunities, unlimited air, O2, nitrox, trimix and scrubber, including Cayman’s famous Kittiwake Wreck and Stingray City, plus the new blue light NightSea® Flouro Discoverydive by Light and Motion. The photo contest includes categories for Cayman Small, Underwater Scene, Spirit of Cayman, Fluorescence and Spirit of Cayman Video and awesome prizes awarded with 100% of the entry fees donated to ocean and marine life conservation including setting a turtle free! Everyone wins a prize!

Easterbrook says FOCUS UNDERWATER is an evolution of what was their annual TEK WEEK, an event specifically designed for advanced and technical divers. As more and more divers began using rebreathers, she says they also expressed interest in underwater photography. To accommodate that change in the industry, Easterbrook added clinics and specific photo dives to the week’s itinerary, and then in 2009 renamed the event FOCUS UNDERWATER to be more inclusive. No matter if you are shooting or not, focus underwater is a good thing.

With a full week of diving, clinics, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, test diving rebreathers and other events, Nancy Easterbrook says her favorite part of the event is enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labors. “Of course all the incredible, creative photography and video is such a joy to watch under 10,000 Caribbean stars!” she says. Sessions to choose from include: Intro to Fluorescence Light & Lighting, Wide Angle Techniques, Exposure – Dialing It In, Green Water, Shooting Wrecks, Lighting Techniques – Strobe Positioning and More, Macro Techniques and Tools, HDR and Pano Images, Macro Video, Video Techniques, Editing and Exporting Images w/Lightroom, Technical Excellence – Eliminating Common Errors in Photography, Telling a Story with Video, Intro to Video Editing, Image Sharing & Collaboration and Silent Shooting.

In addition to diving, the event package includes accommodation at the Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, full meal plan, special cocktail hour, airport transfers, tax and service charges, bus tour in the mangroves, photo contest entrance fee and an event t-shirt. The US price per person is $2,300 for divers, $2,800 for CCR Divers and $2,100 for non-divers, based on double occupancy. For reservations or information call toll free 1 888-946-5656, or in Grand Cayman, 1 345-946-5658.  Information is also available online at www.FocusUnderwater.comwww.divetech.com, or www.cobaltcoast.com.

Sea Turtles: Protecting the Beloved Symbol of the Cayman Islands

Nesting season highlights the need to protect sea turtles now and focuses the community’s attention on what needs to be done for the future 

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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Oct 21, 2013) – An encounter with a sea turtle is always high on the wish list of every visiting diver to the Cayman Islands, and they are very rarely disappointed.  The sea creature recognized as the national symbol of the Cayman Islands almost always makes an appearance during a dive, sometimes more than once, fulfilling expectations like those set by Karina Erickson, a frequent guest at Sunset House and passionate sea turtle lover.

“A dive trip is not complete without a turtle on every dive, so when the divemasters ask what we want to see, my immediate reaction is turtles!” she says. “On my last trip to Grand Cayman I saw a turtle at every dive site.”

Two types of sea turtle live in Cayman waters year-round: hawksbill turtles and green turtles. Juvenile hawksbills live on the coral reefs and are often seen by scuba divers and snorkelers. Green turtles live on the seagrass beds of the lagoons inside the reef.  Divemasters say they can count on spotting at least one sea turtle per dive to keep guests happy, and sometimes, as many as four turtles swim by to check out the excited divers.

“Close encounters with turtles big, or small, always put a smile on our diver’s faces,” says Red Sail Sports’ Debbie Wragg.  “As divemasters we urge our divers to enjoy their turtle interactions passively – no chasing, and definitely no touching!”

Co-worker Sarah White adds that the rules of turtle protection are covered during dive briefings. “No touching, teasing or harassing – when the rules are briefed then there isn’t an issue,” she says. “Our main concern is divers wanting to touch the turtles, who are happy to hang around.”

“From young ones to old timers that weigh 400 pounds, there is nothing more special than diving with a turtle,” agrees Divetech’s Nancy Easterbrook, who has enjoyed plenty of them over the past 20 years. “They are not fussed about divers if we stay slow and calm, and let them carry out their business as usual.”

At sea, turtles play a critical role in keeping Cayman’s reefs in balance. As sponge-eaters, hawksbills keep sponges from overwhelming slow-growing hard corals. Green turtles also help the marine environment by grazing on seagrass beds. Divemasters share this tip with divers who want to see a turtle: find a Leathery Sponge (their favorite snack) and look for a circling Angel Fish, a turtle won’t be far away.

“The turtle eats the outside skin of the sponge and the Angel Fish eats the soft center of the sponge – a perfect partnership on the reef,” says Ocean Frontiers’ Steve Broadbelt. “My personal favorites are the Loggerheads which can grow to dinosaur proportions. When they loom out of the deep towards you, it takes a moment to comprehend what you are about to cross paths with.”

Since 2000 the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE) has been capturing, tagging, and releasing turtles in Cayman waters to determine population size, migration patterns, growth rates, habitat use and diving behavior. Data collected with time depth recorders and acoustic tags shows that hawksbill and green turtles dive deeply on the Cayman wall, sometimes as deep as 300 ft. By using the turtles’ DNA as a kind of genetic bar-code, DOE has also discovered that young hawksbill turtles in Cayman hatched on beaches in Central America, Mexico, and the Eastern Caribbean. This means young turtles have travelled hundreds or thousands of miles by the time they reach Cayman, critical information in protecting the migrating sea turtles.

“We have discovered that Cayman hawksbills grow slowly and may live in Cayman waters for over 15 years, so they benefit from our protection during this vulnerable period in order to survive to adulthood,” says Dr. Janice Blumenthal, DOE Research Officer. “Juvenile hawksbills from across the Caribbean use our waters as a nursery habitat – but as they near maturity, they seem to leave, bound for faraway foraging grounds.”

Turtles are iconic in the Cayman Islands, and they have played a significant role in its history. During sea turtle nesting season, May – November, the local community’s focus turns to protecting the beloved creatures. DOE manages an effective turtle-nesting beach monitoring program that raises awareness and educates the public on what needs to be done to protect them.

Historically, four types of sea turtles were found in Cayman waters – green, loggerhead, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. It is believed at one time millions of green turtles nested here, the largest number in the Atlantic. Christopher Columbus, who discovered the islands in 1503, called them “Las Tortugas” because of the abundant sea turtles. Commercial harvesting decimated Cayman’s turtle populations to the point of extinction, but they have gradually made a comeback. In 1998, the DOE began surveying beaches to identify turtle nests and document nesting trends.

“The first years of monitoring showed that leatherback nesting was locally extinct, and likely lost to us forever, but extremely small numbers of green, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles persisted,” says Dr. Blumenthal. “Since that time, hawksbill nesting has continued to hover at the edge of extinction, but loggerhead and green turtle populations have begun to show signs of recovery – increasing from less than 30 nests when DOE monitoring began in 1998 to more than 300 nests this year.” Dr. Blumenthal says DOE was encouraged to document a number of hawksbill turtle nests this year, but they have yet to see leatherbacks make a return to Cayman’s beaches. While turtle populations on reefs are thriving and nesting sea turtles have made a comeback in Cayman, they still face many threats.

Dive operators and beachfront hotels are at the forefront of both land and sea conservation efforts.  On the beach, development threatens nesting turtles because light pollution disorients baby turtles – they often end up on dangerous roads instead of the sea. Many beachfront hotels and other developments turn off lights on the beach during the summer, and the DOE promotes the use of “turtle friendly lighting” designed to meet the needs of property owners without impacting nesting or hatching turtles. Because more properties are participating in protecting turtle nests and improving survival chances for the hatchlings, there are increased opportunities for low-season ecotourism. When nests start hatching, visitors lucky enough to witness the event cheer the hatchlings on as they begin their dangerous journey to the sea. Mysteriously, female turtles who survive into adulthood will someday return to nest on the same beach where they were born.

In the ocean, the biggest threat to turtles is trash – particularly entanglement in discarded fishing line. Dive operators play a key role in protecting turtles on reefs by regularly collecting fishing lines during dives and organizing reef cleanups. On Little Cayman, the Southern Cross Club organizes two island-wide beach clean-ups in advance of nesting season to help the turtles, and then they encourage resort staff, guests and residents to walk the beaches to find and monitor nests.

“With so many nests here on Little Cayman, we feel it is essential for the whole community to come together to support this project, and together, do all we can to protect our turtles,” says General Manager Jennifer Mills.

Dive operators have also participated in tracking turtles: “We’ve sponsored a satellite tracking device for a loggerhead sea turtle name Leonie, and more recently, supported the release of a farmed yearling green turtle named Sophie,” says Steve Broadbelt, General Manager of Ocean Frontiers. “We also report any unusual sightings, such as the rare one last year of leatherback turtles mating on the surface of the water – our dive staff spotted a female with two males fighting over her.”

Dr. Blumenthal says it is important to understand that sea turtles need protection everywhere.

“Because they are highly migratory, sea turtles face threats throughout their life-cycle – on the nesting beach (as eggs, hatchlings, and adults), in the open ocean, and on their feeding grounds here in the Cayman Islands,” she says. “Our management decisions in Cayman will affect turtle populations in other parts of the world – and our turtles are threatened by the actions of distant countries. To protect our turtles, we must remember that they are a shared Caribbean heritage.”

Karina Erickson can’t say why sea turtles are special to her, but she does love them, and this makes her want to protect them.  “Fish flit back and forth across the reef, but its almost as if the turtle decides to come and swim along with you,” she says. “Turtles are friends who come greet you at the door to the ocean.”

About Us

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).

Web: www.cayman-bottom-time.com

Celebrities and Dive Legends Drawn to the Cayman Islands Again and Again

Since 1957 when the Cayman Islands was recognized as the Caribbean’s birthplace of recreational diving, visitors have flocked here to enjoy the spectacular drop-offs and diverse dive experiences that have made Cayman a mecca for divers. Among them are well-known celebrities and dive industry pioneers who keep returning to the Cayman Islands year after year. In Cayman they find a convenient destination that offers incredible dive sites, top-notch dive services, world-class accommodations and restaurants, plus one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who famously walked on the moon and traveled in outer space, recently made his 4th trip to Cayman to share a dive adventure with the winners of an auction. They paid thousands of dollars to win the “astronaut experience”, and the money raised will help the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation support science and engineering students. Aldrin could pick another destination, but he chooses Grand Cayman and Divetech exclusively for this adventure.

“Grand Cayman is one of my favorite dive destinations in the world,” he said. “We continue to bring patrons of the nonprofit Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to the island because the people there strongly support our efforts by donating their services and facilities. The hospitality is, pardon the pun, out of this world.“

 “We dive deep oceans, go to the moon, so I thought we’d get involved,” said Divetech owner Nancy Easterbrook, who made the decision to work with the foundation because it is tied to the environment and exploration. Astronauts train on scuba to simulate the weightlessness of space, and Easterbrook says Aldrin, an excellent diver, has developed an easy rapport with her staff through the years.  “He taught our staff to do an upside walk on the bottom of the boat, and explained that this is like a moonwalk,” she said. “They all thought it was a hoot, they had fun.”

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NBC Today Show weatherman Al Roker is perhaps one of Cayman’s biggest fans. He first visited Grand Cayman in 1995 to tape a news report for NBC on Stingray City, Cayman’s most famous dive. After completing a resort course with Red Sail Sports, Roker dove with the rays and got hooked on the adventure.

“I had not seen anything like that before – it was so amazing!” he recalls.  He was also hooked on the Cayman Islands. Al Roker came back to complete his certification with Red Sail Sports, and has made Cayman a regular family vacation spot, estimating they have been to Grand Cayman about 15 times since his first trip. Roker, his wife Deborah Roberts, an ABC News correspondent, and their children Leila and Nicholas, vacationed here last in March 2012, but he says they’re always ready to come back. “Cayman can be any kind of vacation you want,” says Roker. “It’s friendly, easy, has wonderful scuba diving, the food is great – it’s hassle-free.”

Easy access is why well-known author and international speaker David Meerman Scott, an American marketing strategist, recently chose Grand Cayman for a quick getaway with daughter Allison. Ocean Frontiers and the island’s remote East End proved the perfect combination for quality family time.

“We both love the ocean, so we decided to get certified together and it was fantastic,” he said vowing to come back.  “It’s good to start at the top.”

At the top is where pioneer of underwater film and photography Stan Waterman places the Cayman Islands. Waterman, who worked on films that include Blue Water White Death and The Deep, recently hung up his fins after his final dive in Cayman. In an interview published by the Caymanian Compass, Waterman was described as the unofficial ambassador for Cayman Islands diving.

“I am often asked by people who haven’t come to the Caribbean where they should start and I tell them that Cayman has more that can be depended on than any other place I know. You have these jewels in your crown like Tarpon Alley, Stingray City, the drop offs, the wrecks that have been put down. There’s more here for people who are coming diving than anywhere else in the Caribbean. Without being paid to do so, I always beat the drums of Cayman,” he said.

Cayman diving will soon receive additional exposure through a new music video being released by country singer Stephanie Quayle. Big Blue Town is a song inspired by the work of Sea Save, a non-profit organization working to stop the finning of sharks among other conservation projects. The video was shot on location at Sunset House (who is very familiar with country stars and being a part of award winning videos) and its famous reef.

Other celebrities who have dived and snorkeled Cayman’s waters through the years include; director James Cameron; actors Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Rob Morrow, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Jessica Alba, Leslie Neilson; professional athletes Tiger Woods, Marcus Allen, Joe Montana, Edwin Moses, Nolan Ryan, Fox NFL’s Howie Long; TV personalities Stephen Colbert, Regis Philbin, supermodel Cindy Crawford and General Charlie Duke.

Cayman has also been a big draw for entertainers in the music business: Phil Vasser, Travis Tritt, Blake Shelton, Chris Cagle, Bryan White, the Beach Boys, Rascal Flats, Little Texas, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among many others.

“We love it when people keep coming back year after year, like Buzz Aldrin and Al Roker do,” said Rod McDowall, Operations Manager for Red Sail Sports. “They become part of our dive family and it tells us we are doing something very right.”

About Us

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).

Cayman’s Legends and Lions Weeklong Scuba Celebration Launched with a Resounding Start

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The birthplace of recreational diving in the Caribbean inaugurates an annual celebration of what makes the Cayman Islands special

Tanks, tuxedos and tasty lionfish were all hits at Cayman’s first annual Legends and Lions scuba celebration, which rolled out October 4 – 11, 2014 with great success thanks to teamwork, a good turnout and perfect weather. The celebration showcased Cayman’s superb diving, honored dive legends inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, fought invasive Lionfish and then served them up at a celebratory street party on the waterfront.

“Legends and Lions was a successful event for its first time,” says Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall, one of the participating dive operators. “ We hope to make it a yearly celebration that highlights the fantastic scuba diving of the Cayman Islands and the reasons we are one of the world’s leading dive destinations.”

“It went really well, I’m very pleased,” agreed Keith Sahm, General Manager for Sunset House, also one of the event dive operators. “It pulled together very nicely.”

Dive industry leaders teamed up with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to combine several existing scuba promotions during this traditionally slow time of year to take advantage of off-season rates. The dive deals offered by Red Sail Sports, Sunset House and Divetech attracted new divers to Cayman from as far away as Germany, and drew repeat divers from closer markets in the US back to a destination they know well and visit often.

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Some visitors started the week of diving aboard a Red Sail Sports dive boat with scuba pioneers Bill Acker, Dan Orr and Leslie Leaney. The three hall of famers spoke to the group about the history of diving and their experiences in the sport. The legends and divers then hit the water together to dive Cayman’s spectacular North Wall where they explored dive sites Creole Cliff and Pinnacle Reef. It was an experience Carolyn Larrivee and her husband George from Utah won’t forget.

“I loved it! It was great to be with people who love what they do and who want to share that passion with us,” she said. “I love the camaraderie – it reassures me as a diver who loves the sport.”

“They shared this wonderful dive experience with us,” said Dan Orr, who thoroughly enjoyed the meet and greet on board. “Diving is done as a community – we are a community.”

“This is the essence of diving, which is a non-competitive sport,” agreed Leslie Leaney, a dive historian. “It’s about sharing this fun activity as a community.”

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Also attending the festival were top performers from dive shops and booking agents participating in Cayman’s Tanks A Lot Rewards Program, courtesy of the Department of Tourism and Cayman’s dive industry.  A couple of the FAM attendees – Paula and Dean of The Dive Academy in Ontario – celebrated by getting engaged and then picking out a ring. The weeklong fun continued with topside events that Lionfish culling certifications and culling dives to remove the predators from Cayman’s reefs. The day’s catch was then cooked up and served during a street party sponsored by Aqua Lung.

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“I’ve never had Lionfish before and it’s tasty!” said a surprised and pleased Rich Peterson, visiting the island from Jacksonville, Florida.  The meal included Caribbean staples rice and peas, plantain and “cho cho” a tropical fruit.

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Legends and Lions also hosted a photo contest during the week that drew local, as well as visiting underwater photographers. The winners received prizes awarded by Scubapro, Guy Harvey and the Cathy Church Underwater Photo Centre.  Coordinator Keith Sahm says the images submitted for the event were astounding and the response to the collections has been great. Categories included; Unusual, Macro, and Turtles, Stingrays and Fish. Winners included local divers Charlie Reaney, Brittany Slade, Amanda Nicholls, Chase Darnell, Courtney Platt and Ellen Cuylaerts.

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“The response that we have received from our social medial site showing off the winners has been absolutely fabulous and it give us great pleasure showing off these talented photographers work,” he said.  “Next year, we will get started much earlier, now that we have a new format in place. We’ll have more prizes, more categories, the goal is to get more entries.”

The scuba week celebration was capped off with a formal, black tie International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction Dinner hosted by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. These year’s inductees were Alese and Mort Pechter, Bill Acker, Chuck Nicklin, Dan Orr and Neal Watson.  Rod McDowall of Red Sail Sports was also honored for his contributions to Cayman’s dive industry through the years.

“The induction into the local Cayman Islands Scuba Hall of Fame is appreciated,” said McDowall. “It’s always nice to get recognition for just doing your job in a diving paradise.”

The dive legends inducted to the hall of fame had this to say:

Alese Pechter: “What a fantastic weekend we had! Thank you so much for making absolutely everything so perfect. Grand Cayman has always held a special place in our hearts and this weekend just solidified that feeling even more.”

Neal Watson: “Thanks a million for the hospitality extended to my friends, family and the ‘Dive God’.”

Dan Orr: “Keith, it was a wonderful week thanks largely to you and Karin. Having all of our family stay at Sunset House was the best decision – our family loved every bit of it.  The rooms, the staff, the food and the diving were all first rate.  We sincerely thank you and Karin for everything! “

Bill Acker: “Thank you so very much, for your help, hospitality and friendship during the past week in the Cayman Islands.  My entire family as well as our friends from Germany had a wonderful time at Sunset House.”

Chuck Nicklin: “Thanks to the Cayman Department of Tourism and to the hospitality of Karin and Keith Sahm of the Sunset House Dive Resort, Leslie Leaney, our eloquent MC and Co-founder of the Historical Diving Society, and to the many friends who attended. Congratulations to all inductees! It was a great event!”

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Everyone involved in Legends and Lions is anxious to get started on plans for 2015 since this first event was so successful – there are new ideas to discuss for next year.

“We want to put this event on every divers calendar – fantastic diving, great dive deals, diving with industry celebrities and a street party – the perfect Cayman Islands dive vacation!” said Rod McDowall.

About Us

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).

Cayman Dive Operators and Volunteers Work Against Time to Restore Damaged Reef

Cruise ship anchor dragged across dive site destroying 11,500 square feet of coral; Dive community comes together for what could be a marathon restoration project 

In the waters off George Town, Grand Cayman, a group of approximately 50 volunteer divers led by local dive operators, and guided by the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE), are working tirelessly to repair a coral reef severely damaged by a cruise ship anchor in mid-August. Working in teams with designated leaders, following project coordinators under the direction of the DOE, the divers are carefully removing the rubble, dead coral and sediment, crate by crate, knowing that time is critical.

“Right now it’s basic triage, and any live corals are being put aside for reattachment once the rubble is removed,” says Ocean Frontiers’ Lois Hatcher, who is trained and experienced in coral restoration. “Every day that goes by, more coral that is buried or heavily covered in sediment, is suffocating. They need sunlight and a stable substrate to survive, so the longer they are unstable, the survival rate decreases.”

Hatcher and Keith Sahm, Sunset House General Manager, are coordinating the structured project, guided by the Department of Environment. They are making sure the work is done carefully, methodically and safely. Both stepped up after they heard the news that the Carnival Magic accidentally dropped its anchor on the dive site. Frustrated by lack of immediate action, Sahm organized an emergency meeting September 18 at Sunset House and an overflow crowd of volunteers showed up motivated and ready to go to work knowing that time is critical and government manpower is short. Two days after the meeting, the volunteers made their first dive on the site, saw the extent of the damage and realized what they are up against.

“The chain damage is just terrible! The captain had let out 5 shots of chain – about 450 feet – with each link weighing between 50 – 100 pounds,” says Keith Sahm. “It’s a sickening feeling to know that thousands and thousands of years of coral growth has been demolished by an error in judgment, or mechanical problems.”

“A lot of man-hours are needed to restore a reef – first with the triage, then the reattachment and maintenance,” says Lois Hatcher, adding that it could take up to a year to complete. “We are also hoping to start a couple of nursery trees for the long-term keeping of live coral fragments, as they grow faster this way and can then be used to embellish what coral was replanted.”

The goal is to execute a coral restoration project similar to the one carried out in 1996 when the Maasdam cruise ship dropped its anchor on a shallow dive site in George Town damaging 7500 square feet of the reef. That restoration project, conducted by local divers, including Lois Hatcher, and the Department of Environment, took about 9,000 hours of underwater work over three months. Officials say that coral bed could take more than sixty years to grow back. The Carnival Magic has damaged almost 12,000 square feet of reef located in deeper water, so the volunteer army has its work cut out for it.

“We are all just volunteers, so I applaud absolutely everyone’s effort here,” says Sahm. “Thank goodness we have folks like Peter Milburn and Lois Hatcher that worked on the 1996 project and are still here to help. And a special thanks to the Marine Conservation Board for easing guidelines and laws so we can do this restoration work – it’s unlawful for anyone to touch or pick up coral, dead or alive in the Cayman Islands. We wouldn’t be able to do this important work without the help of the Board and Department of Environment.”

The restoration work is difficult and exhausting, but everyone involved knows it will pay off in the years to come. While the dive site won’t be what it was originally, restoration can at least make the reef stable enough to sustain life again. The rubble also needs to be removed as soon as possible to prevent further damage when the next big storm kicks up.

While an investigation into the Carnival Magic incident is conducted, the repair work at the site continues non-stop and to date, more than a 20 dives have been made and volunteers have put in 150 man-hours. Communication and coordination are done through a Facebook page that now has 265 followers. Boat trips are scheduled and volunteers, both locals and visitors, can sign up to help. The challenge for Sahm and Hatcher will be keeping up the enthusiasm and pace of the repair work during the months ahead.

According to the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), a nonprofit conservation organization, the key to a successful project is to engage the community, something that is now taking place on Grand Cayman. Sunset House, Ocean Frontiers, Red Sail Sports, Divetech, Don Foster’s Dive and other local operators are providing boats and tanks for the dozens of volunteer divers. Southern Cross Club staff in Little Cayman will participate during an upcoming trip to Grand Cayman. Foster’s Food Fair, a local grocer, has donated the plastic milk crates being used to remove the rubble, while the local Subway has provided free sandwiches for the restoration crew. The hope, according to Sahm and Hatcher, is to encourage long-term involvement and partnerships that will keep the momentum going.

“This is something we really need to do as a community, try to repair the damage to this beautiful reef,” says Hatcher. “If nobody’s going to be held accountable for this, we have to be accountable for it.”

Team leaders and coordinators met with a Department of Environment officer on Monday for a project review, and the results according to the DOE, are encouraging because of the progress that has already been done.

The project has an on-going need for more volunteers and anyone interesting in helping is asked to visit the Facebook page Cayman Magic Reef Recovery where volunteer dives and updates are continually posted.

About Us

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).

Red Sail Sports offers an Unbeatable Dive Deal during Cayman’s “Legends and Lions” Celebration October 4 – 11

Taking advantage of off-season rates to offer travel deals, Cayman’s dive industry highlights things that make it a top dive destination: incredible diving, outstanding customer service and a conservation-minded community that honors dive legends 

A host of travel option are available for the “Legends and Lions,” celebration on Grand Cayman October 4 – 11, 2014, but discerning divers seeking an exceptional travel deal should take advantage of Red Sail Sports’ dive package with accommodations at the luxurious Westin Resort on Seven Mile Beach. It starts at an incredible US $975 per person (based on double occupancy) for a 7-night stay and it includes a daily 2-tank dive, plus the common elements being offered as part of the celebration.

The weeklong event brings together several existing scuba promotions during this slow time of year to take advantage of off-season rates. All “Legends and Lions” packages include; a daily 2-tank dive, a dive on the USS Kittiwake wreck, a Lionfish certification with a 1-tank Lionfish hunt dive, a street dance and tickets to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, where guests can minge with the “legends” of diving. Cayman is host to the ISDHF and some of the biggest names in the dive industry will be honored: Alese and Mort Pechter, Bill Acker, Chuck Nicklin, Dan Orr and Neal Watson.

The “Lions” in the event name refers to Cayman’s continuing battle against invasive Lionfish, which threaten reefs, not only in the Cayman Islands, but also all across the Caribbean. Red Sail Sports and other participating operators plan all-out assault on the invasive Lionfish on Thursday, October 9 with a Lionfish culling certification followed by a 1-tank dive to remove the predators from local reefs. The day’s catch will be cooked up and enjoyed during a street party on the waterfront in George Town.

The Red Sail Sports and Westin Resort partnership gives dive travelers another reason to celebrate – enjoying the very best Cayman has to offer at bargain prices not available the rest of the year. The Westin Resort, with its elegant tropical atmosphere, is situated on the soft, white sands of Seven Mile Beach, ranked by US News Traveler as the #1 beach in the world. It features comfortable rooms, world-class restaurants, spa facilities and all the amenities needed to pamper guests. Red Sail Sports, known for excellent customer service and first-rate facilities, operates a watersports shop on the beach at the Westin. Guests enjoy convenient and easy boarding because Red Sail Sports’ customized, spacious dive boats pull up right up on the beach.

Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall:  “Lifestyle is a choice travelers make when booking their vacation, and our package gives them the opportunity to make the most of their time on the island. They can enjoy all the things that make Cayman special: warm clear water, incredible dive sites, great customer service, world-class accommodations and restaurants, and a stunning beach. When they are done diving for the day, guests may opt to enjoy the beach by relaxing seaside, in the pool or having fun with our watersports toys – it’s all here, and at fantastic rates they won’t get at any other time of the year.”

Red Sail Sports “Legends and Lions” Dive Package

October 4-11, 2014
$975 per person
Based on double occupancy

Package includes:

  • 7 Nights at the Westin (island view room)
  • 6 two-tank dives
  • Dinner Ticket for International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame
  • Sunset Sail
  • Tickets for the Lionfish Dinner & Street Party
  • 20% discount on Red Sail Sports watersports

To book e-mail: info@redsailcayman.com, call: 1-877-506-6368 or visit our website: www.redsailcayman.com/legends.

About Red Sail Sports

Red Sail Sports, a member of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association is a leading resort based dive and watersports operator. Since 1987 it has been setting the standard on Grand Cayman by providing the highest level of guest services. On Seven Mile Beach Red Sail Sports operates locations at the Westin Resort, the Marriott Resort, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites and the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman. At remote East End the company has a watersports shop at Morritt’s Tortuga Club, also offering dive and catamaran services to The Reef Resort. On North Side Red Sail Sports offers watersports activities at the Rum Point Club.  The company offers several dive packages through its affiliation with island hoteliers.

Cayman Islands to Honor Legends of Scuba Diving at DEMA 2014

Some of the biggest names in the industry to be on hand in the Cayman pavilion to greet the public and share love of diving

Cayman Islands, September 23, 2014 – The Cayman Islands pavilion at the annual Diving Equipment and Marketing Association’s (DEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 19-22, 2014 will be welcoming and honoring dive industry legends who have been inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF), founded in Cayman 14 years ago. Making appearances at the ISDHF show booth will be some of the best known names in the dive industry worldwide: Leslie Leaney, Carl Roessler, Howard and Michelle Hall, Ron Stevens ‘Rogest’, Wyland, Joann and Armand Zighand, Bob Hollis, David Doubilet, Drew Richardson, Howard Rosenstein and Cayman’s own Ron Kipp and Cathy Church.  Also making appearances will be 2014 honorees.

To be inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame this year are:

Dan Orr – Most recently the President Emeritus of the Divers Alert Network Foundation and the former CEO, Orr has been involved in the diving industry for more than 40 years. Orr continues to promote dive safety as an author of books and contributor to magazines.

Neal Watson – Watson has enjoyed a varied career in commercial diving, stunt coordination for the films and TV, hotel management, and diving franchises. Watson holds several Guinness World Records and has worked taught several celebrities to dive. He has hand-fed sharks with Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Bill Acker – Acker is the owner of the first dive shop in Yap and has helped make the island a top international dive destination, bringing jobs and prosperity to the local community.

Chuck Nicklin – With an extensive background in underwater photography, Nicklin has had work published numerous catalogues, magazines, and movies, including ‘The Deep,’ ‘For Your Eyes Only,’ ‘The Abyss’ and ‘Never Say Never Again.’ He’s also been instrumental in building the San Diego dive scene, and is a contributor to the international dive community.

Alese and Morton Pechter – Underwater photographers Alese and her late husband Morton Pechter have documented the underwater world for a number of publications. They’ve been active in educating children about the marine environment and advocating for ocean conservation. The Pechters have been honored by the United Nations Environment Programme and recognized by the US Navy as Honorary Deep Sea Divers.

A set schedule of appearances by dive legends will be released at a later date. The Cayman pavilion will also include an ISDHF photo booth with life-size cutouts of early dive pioneers and a display of historic dive equipment. Because diving is intrinsic to Caymanian culture, the Cayman Islands’ Ministry of Tourism founded the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2000 to recognize individuals who have contributed to the industry making the sport better for all.

“It is logical that the ISDHOF is established in Cayman as it had the FIRST sport diving facility in the world, Bob Soto’s Diving established in 1957, and then Cayman became the leader in dive destinations in the 1980’s,” said Ron Kipp, a pioneer of Cayman’s dive industry and Hall of Fame 2012 inductee. “There is no greater honor than to be recognized by your peers.”

2012 inductee Leslie Leaney says it is vitally important to recognize history-makers now. “Some of the earliest participants are still with us. The first generation from the 1940s, are all gone. The second generation from the 1950’s to mid 60’s, are slowly leaving us. In 50 years the first five generations of divers who built the sport will all be gone. All that will be left is their history, provided it is accurately recorded now.”

“The history of diving is crucial to the future of diving,” adds Neal Watson. “You learn from history and try not to repeat those mistakes.  And diving is so young, it started in 1953 – from 50 years ago to where it is today – technology and evolution of training now make it possible for almost everyone to dive, and new divers love to hear the stories.”

The DEMA promotion is an extension of “Legends and Lions” a festival showcasing Cayman’s diving scheduled October 4 -11.  Teaming up with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to combine several dive promotions to take advantage of off-season rates, Red Sail SportsDivetech, Ocean Frontiers and Sunset House are offering value-packed dive deals. Participants will have the chance to dive with 2014’s honorees, and mingle with them during the induction dinner that is capping off the week’s activities.

“I have always loved the opportunity to interact with other divers regardless of their level of experience and training,” said Dan Orr being recognized for his contributions to dive safety. “The scuba week is a fantastic way of getting together with others who also love diving and provides a great opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another. I can hardly wait!”

For more on Legends and Lions visit http://www.caymanislands.ky/divecayman/consumer 

About Us

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).

Web: www.cayman-bottom-times.com

New Underwater Themed Rooms at Sunset House Feature Photographs by Some of the Dive Industry’s Best

Four rooms available now, 22 by the end of 2015 – the goal is to enhance the visitor’s dive vacation experience by showing them the underwater world through the eyes of experts

Sunset House, the hotel for divers by divers, has completed four of what will ultimately be 22 themed guest rooms decorated with the work of some of the dive industry’s elite underwater photographers. The design upgrade is part of a continuing makeover plan by the popular dive resort, to enhance the dive experience for guests who travel here to enjoy Cayman’s famed underwater world. Customers can now book one of these signature oceanfront rooms, or suites, and walk into the beauty of the undersea world as seen through the lenses of photographers Courtney Platt, Ellen Cuylaerts, Cathy Church and Jim Hellemn.

 

“I’m very honoured to be included in the Sunset House Signature rooms,” says Cuylaerts, who began diving when she moved to Cayman in 2009 and only took up underwater photography in 2011. She has just been named World Champion Underwater Photographer 2013 in an international photo contest for her diverse and stunning photos.

“As a newby to be able to show my work to divers from around the world makes me very proud,” she said. “The selection of canvasses was difficult, but I chose mostly images taken in Cayman. Every encounter in the water brings something new, and I hope my work inspires people to keep looking with an open mind, every time. Beauty is everywhere.”

Cuylearts is displaying her work in Room 411 at Sunset House, including captivating images of the silversides the visit Devil’s Grotto and numerous sites around Grand Cayman each summer. She hopes her photographs will inspire divers to take a closer look.

“The highlights are not on wall dives, but on the subject, the beauty of every creature big or small. I hope people seeing my work will revisit some signature dive sites and look at them with a different focus, maybe by seeing my work they discover things or details they never noticed before, for example how beautiful light enters grottoes, what excellent reflections stingrays get at the surface.”

Digital imaging and underwater specialist Jim Hellemn, based in California, hopes his photos in room 407 encourage people become concerned about ocean conservation.

“Seeing the natural beauty that’s here allows us to see what’s in the ocean that we need to protect, especially when you see all of the reef life in one area, you really get a sense of what you’re trying to protect in the ocean. I think that’s very important for every diver and every person on land to understand.”

“We gave the photographers free reign to decorate their signature room in the way they want to display photos from anywhere in the world to share their vision of the underwater world – each artist is completely different with their own style,” said General Manager Keith Sahm, who came up with the idea for themed rooms that extend the dive experience topside.

Consistent ideal conditions and a variety of dive experiences have made the Cayman Islands a mecca for underwater photographers, both pro and novice. Sunset House, with its in-house Cathy Church Photo Centre and partnership with the well-known photo pro, cultivates the underwater photography culture and caters to all.

“We’re the capitol of underwater photography here: great visibility, exciting marine life and reefs, and Sunset House has easy shore diving so photographers can just go out and indulge in their sport,” said Keith Sahm.  “With advances in technology and digital photography more and more divers are doing underwater photography so we have photographers here every day.  It only makes sense to take their dive vacation experience to the next level.”

It has taken a year to complete the four signature rooms, and Sahm hopes to get all 22 rooms done by the end of 2015.  Other well-known industry photographers who will have their own signature room include: Alex Mustard, Marty Snyderman, Stephen Frink, David Doubilet, Geri Murphy and Greg Piper, among others.

The partnership between Sunset House and the photographers has benefits for all involved. Prominent Cayman photographer Courtney Platt, who has done several assignments for National Geographic Magazine and has a thriving photo business on Grand Cayman, says the exposure to guests from all over the world is already providing business leads.

“It makes the visit for the diver coming to Cayman more exciting and the rooms become a point of interest for them and their friends who want to see the photos in the various rooms,” he said.

Sahm agrees saying the signature rooms have become social meeting places for guests after a great day of diving.

“The whole idea of this project is to extend the underwater experience for our guests as much as possible, and add more fun to their vacation here at Sunset House.”

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.

Stingray City, Cayman’s #1 Tourism Attraction, Gets Full Protection

Government moves to expand protection; ongoing census provides up-close look; dive industry voices full support

For more than 30 years, divers and snorkelers to Grand Cayman have enjoyed a unique first-hand encounter with dozens of friendly stingrays that gather at two sites in the clear waters of the North Sound − Stingray City and the sandbar. This creature experience is on the bucket lists of divers across the world. The celebrity rays have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the cover of National Geographic Magazine, and most dive publications. NBC’s Al Roker dove with the rays in 1989 and put them on network TV. The exposure has made Stingray City one of the most popular dive and snorkel sites in the world, and it contributes significantly to the local tourism economy.

Cayman’s celebrity stingrays are now under the full legal protection of the Cayman Islands Government, which amended its New Conservation Law to extend protection to Southern Stingrays in Cayman Waters. Before the amendment, the law only protected them in the Sandbar or Stingray City, designated as Wildlife Interaction Zones, and in marine parks or designated environmental zones. The amendment to the Conservation Law also extends protection to Eagle Rays and Manta Rays in local waters.

Members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association have always supported efforts to protect the Southern Stingray and the move by the government is welcomed. Everyone understands how vital Stingray City is to Cayman’s tourism product.

Steve Broadbelt, co-founder of Ocean Frontiers: “Many have tried to copy Stingray City, others have even tried to poach and export our Southern Stingrays, but nothing comes close to the wild aggregations of Stingrays we have in the Cayman Islands. Stingrays are critical to tourism in Cayman as it gives us a competitive edge over other destinations in the region- everybody loves Stingrays.”

The beginnings of Stingray City can be traced to the islands early days when local fishermen cleaned their catch in the shallows of the North Sound, attracting the stingrays, bottom feeders. Then divemasters doing surface intervals between dives on the North Wall noticed the circling rays and began feeding them.

“I can remember they would come to me and snuggle like puppy dogs, they were wonderful!” recalls Kenney, one of those divemasters and a long-time Red Sail Sports staffer. The divemasters helped dispel the bad myths surrounding stingrays and the Stingray City experience took off. This experience with the friendly rays has thrilled thousands and made Stingray City the number one dive and snorkel site in the Cayman Islands.

“It’s a natural aquarium, not man-made. No Stingrays are caught and kept in captivity so it’s authentic and the rays come and go as they so please,” says Nancy Easterbrook, owner of Divetech. “In addition to playing with the gentle Southern Stingrays, green moray eels will visit you, school of blue tangs and snappers and small coral heads reveal their inhabitants if you stop and look closely. In 12 feet of crystal clear water, it’s the ideal photographers dream – no wonder millions have visited the site over the years and has a special place in their dive logs.”

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment introduced guidelines in 2007 to manage traffic at the stingray sites and actual handling of the rays. Dive operators emphasize these rules to visitors before they enter the water.

“Our briefings cover the highlights of the marine conservation laws as applicable to the Wildlife Interaction Zones, including why the regulations make sense, so people understand how to safely enjoy the ‘aquarium’ for both their protection and the Stingrays protection,” says Steve Broadbelt. “In general we tell guests to watch and observe the rays, and not molest or annoy them.”

Red Sail Sports dive boats also include an introduction to “Fluffy” the stuffed stingray during dive briefings. “The stuffed stingray is used to demonstrate the anatomy of the stingrays…where the mouth is, the gills, how they breathe, how they feed, and of course the tail including the barb,” says Dive Operations Manager Clive Webb. “This lets the guests know where they can touch the Stingrays, what they feel like both on top and underneath, and what to pay attention to and be careful of. We also include the contribution by our own Pat Kenney being one of the first to get in with the rays.”

An annual census by conservationist Guy Harvey, with assistance and oversight by the Department of Environment, helps monitor the health of the rays and the dynamics at both sites. According to the latest count 90 stingrays frequent both Stingray City and the Sandbar. Most are female and many of them are pregnant. This year 48 new stingrays have been tagged in the census.

Jessica Harvey, Research Officer, Cayman Islands Department of Environment: “With each ray having a PIT tag, a microchip under the skin, we can determine exactly who we see on a given day, and just as importantly, who we haven’t seen. One female in particular we hadn’t seen since before 2012!”

“Even with the best wall dives, vibrant coral reefs and massive shipwrecks in the Cayman Islands, when a diver sees an image of a Stingray playing with a diver or snorkeler, that photo needs no caption of where it was taken,” says Steve Broadbelt. “Even today, whether it’s your first time or 100th time, the rays never lose their magic and shine a memory that only those who know can fully understand.”

About Us

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).

Red Sail Sports Grand Cayman Launches New Dive-Specific Website

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Dec 16, 2014) Red Sail Sports, Grand Cayman’s leading resort watersports operator, is gearing up for 2015 with the launch of a new dive-focused website www.diveredsailcayman.com.  The website, a one-stop online shopping location for diving customers, offers quick and easy access to all Red Sail Sports dive information, showcasing the company’s new competitive dive rates and dive packages.  Red Sail Sports’ Summer Spectacular package includes 5 two-tanks for just US $465, a savings of 30% from last summer’s rates.

“Our goal is to inspire visitors to book some of the great dive specials and packages Red Sail Sports is offering in 2015,” said Operations Manager Rod McDowall. “Rates have been lowered considerably for volume diving and we hope the site will show Red Sail Sports as the best operator and option when visiting Grand Cayman.”

The dive website is also part of the company’s ongoing efforts to keep improving its stellar customer service. Red Sail Sports has been offering services on Grand Cayman for 27 years and it operates facilities at resorts along the island’s famous Seven Mile Beach, Rum Point and East End. Customers access all the information they need when planning their dive vacation, including a complete dive boat schedule and list of Red Sail Sports’ training courses, and easily book their adventures online.

The website is designed to answer questions divers might have; certification cards, water conditions, the best time of year to dive the Cayman Islands, dive refreshers, making reservations, diver ratios, what’s needed on the boat, medical facilities on boat and on the island, and more. Visitors can browse through descriptions and colorful photos of the dive sites and check out the maps. Dive instructors Vicki Jones and Chris Kirrage spent six months writing the content for the dive site and they will keep it updated with the latest from Red Sail Sports and the Cayman dive scene.

“Divers like to research and know a lot of information before they arrive; what they might see on the dive, which staff will take them diving, what the boats are like, what equipment they will use,” said Vicki Jones.  “We are very much involved in the diving ourselves here in Grand Cayman, so this allows us to write the content from what we feel is a diver/instructor’s point of view.”

As dive instructors Jones and Kirrage also want to make the process of signing up for PADI eLearning courses much simpler for their students. “Within 2 clicks they can be directed to the PADI sign up page for any course that we offer,” said Kirrage.

Red Sail Sports’ training program includes PADI specialties such as Wreck Diver, Nitrox Diver, Deep Diver, Search and Recovery and Scuba Tune Up. Customers can also sign up for Nitrox diving, with its own nitrox compressor, Red Sail Sports is making diving with nitrox more accessible for customers.

Also new in 2015, Red Sail Sports is making Go Pro action video cameras available for rent at all locations. Customers can rent them for a full day or half day with accessories to suit their activity and capture their Cayman vacation in high quality video. The company has an Action Camera Specialty Course in the works.

“The aim of the dive-specific website is to give visitors browsing online a little bit of a dive experience with our Red Sail Sports team,” said Rod McDowall. “It is such a fun time diving in Cayman – spectacular warm, clear water diving, and entertaining, friendly and professional staff making our guests comfortable on big, spacious and well-equipped boats.  We like to spoil our customers and hopefully a bit of that fun and color will come out to the reader on the new site.”

To visit the new Red Sail Sports dive website go to www.diveredsailcayman.com.

About Red Sail Sports
Red Sail Sports, a member of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association is a leading resort based dive and watersports operator. Since 1987 it has been setting the standard on Grand Cayman by providing the highest level of guest services. On Seven Mile Beach Red Sail Sports operates locations at the Westin Resort, the Marriott Resort, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites and the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman. At remote East End the company has a watersports shop at Morritt’s Tortuga Club, also offering dive and catamaran services to The Reef Resort. On North Side Red Sail Sports offers watersports activities at the Rum Point Club.  The company offers several dive packages through its affiliation with island hoteliers.