Dive site a mess

Thousands of tourists may be getting a worse impression of Cayman’s famed undersea world than they should because of rubbish on the sea floor.

That’s the view of experienced Kirk Sea Tours dive instructor Gary Gillatt who says the problem is worst in the place that is most visited, and that is in front of where he works.

The area, around the wreck of the Cali in George Town harbour, is visited by thousands of snorkellers.

It is a popular spot for cruise ship visitors because it is close to where they disembark

And it is often the first and only impression tourists may get of Cayman’s world famous dive waters in the short time they are on the island.

‘I dive all over the island but this spot is the worst part for trash on the sea floor, and it’s the place most people see,’ said Mr. Gillatt.

‘It looks shocking for the snorkelling people and it could be a lot better without a lot of effort,’ he said.

Mr. Gillatt said that after Hurricane Ivan devastated the island last year, in addition to delicate things like black coral fans being broken off in their thousands, a lot of debris was left behind.

Rubbish such as roofing tiles, corrugated sheeting and other things ended up in the water.

‘It could do with moving really. It’s unsightly,’ he said.

‘If someone said they would pay us to use our boats to pick up the trash it could be cleaned up with not a great deal of effort,’ he said.

Out on other dive sites rubbish was not such a problem because divers had picked things up, he added.

The dive companies had, he said, collaborated and a lot of rubbish and debris had been pulled out of Cayman waters, but there was still a problem with some rubbish on the sea floor.

Manager at Eden Rock Diving Centre Dave McKay said dive sites near his company, on the other side of the harbour, had not been seriously affected by Hurricane Ivan but small delicate things like fans and sponges had been damaged.

Debris from structural material, such as storm gutters, had been found and removed from the water, said Mr. McKay.

And in the next few weeks an organised underwater clean up, in which divers who wanted to help were offered free tanks of air, was being mounted, he said.

The reefs were getting back to normal and in one aspect Hurricane Ivan may have actually helped by washing some of the coral clean of algae that had been growing on it, he added.