Earth Week

This year marks the 40th
anniversary of Earth Day, and here on Cayman there are plenty of activities to
celebrate the occasion.

This Saturday, 17 April, the
Chamber of Commerce annual roadside cleanup takes place, while under the waves
Divetech are heading a Lionfish removal from 1pm to 5pm.

On Sunday 18 and Monday 19,
Recreation Parks and Cemeteries Unit operatives will be picking up roadside
garbage, and throughout the week there will be the National Trust Environmental
Storytelling Week at Mission House. More word-based activity is on Wednesday 21
as The Little Blue Book: A Short History of the Grand Cayman Iguana is launched
at Rackhams.

Earth Day itself is on Thursday, 22
April, and then the weekend begins in earnest with an open mic session at
Mission House on Friday 23. Another Divetech underwater clean-up takes place on
Saturday 24, while Ocean Frontiers’ East End beach clean-up and reef watch
snorkel takes place that same day. There is also a PWC 5k fun run on Sunday, 25
April.

The Central Caribbean Marine
Institute will be doing a clean-up, along with Cayman International School and
Montessori By the Sea, as part of their Marine Ecology courses over the
weekend. They have also released the Green Guide in support of Earth Week. It
is available in all major supermarkets.

Pirates Point Resort, Little
Cayman, are co-ordinating beach clean-ups throughout the week of April 19 to
26.

Residents who show a valid Cayman
Islands driving license on Sunday, 25 April will be given free admission into
the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Red Sail
Sports is offering a free one tank dive to do a reef clean up, probably in the
George Town Harbour, on Saturday, 24 April. Check in at the Grand Cayman Beach
Suites at 2pm for more details, or phone 9498745 for reservation.

Dive

The activities and events have been
organised by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the Department of Environment,
the Department of Environmental Health as well as the Chamber of Commerce.

The tourism association sponsors
the annual Reef Watch survey that takes place on 24 April. It is a valuable
exercise in which certified divers and snorkelers fill in surveys about the
marine life they encounter during their dive.

Fish

These data are compiled by the Department
of Environment and will be added to the Reef Watch database, which has results
dating back to 1997, explained CITA project and marketing manager Erin Bodden.

“This is a fun and scientifically
useful event in which residents and visitors alike can get involved. It is
significant to note that last year’s survey was adapted to include Lionfish
sightings – as will this year’s.”

Ms Bodden explained that Lionfish
are an Indo-Pacific species, which have invaded Cayman waters. They eat large
quantities of juvenile fish and invertebrates but have no predators themselves
because of their venomous spines.

Lionfish can inflict a painful
wound if handled, said the marketing manager, so the Department of Environment
cautions survey participants not to approach a Lionfish if one is sighted and
to alert a divemaster who will report it to the Department of Environment for
removal.

Tanks

Along with the satisfaction of
helping a very worthy cause, there are other incentives on offer, too,
explained Ms Bodden.

“Some dive operators are offering
participants returning a completed survey a free Earth Day T-shirt while
supplies last. Many of the operators offer a free tank for shore diving or a
free one tank boat dive depending on availability for divers participating in
the Reef Watch Survey and/or free snorkeling gear for participants, so contact
the individual operator to find out their offer,” continued Ms Bodden.

For more information, contact the
Cayman Islands Tourism Association at 949 8522 or [email protected]

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