Diving into harbour cleanup

High school students are taking up scuba and diving into Cayman’s waters while also doing their bit for the environment. 

Clifton Hunter High School teacher Hamish Hamilton and 16-year-old student Joseph Burey, armed with trash bags and scuba gear, headed underwater near the wreck of the Cali in George Town harbour Tuesday to pick up litter and spruce up the popular dive and snorkelling site. 

The cleanup is part of an initiative to teach school students to dive and to give back to the community at the same time. 

Mr. Hamilton, who is a certified dive instructor who teaches his own students and members of the High Schools Dive Club to scuba dive, hopes to do a similar cleanup with more students at the Lobster Pot dive shop soon. 

“We’re certifying students to dive and getting Caymanian kids into the water, which hardly any of them do,” said Mr. Hamilton, as he and Joseph suited up outside Divers Down dive shop, which provided free air tanks and weights for Tuesday’s dive. 

The student diving initiative, a joint programme between Clifton Hunter and John Gray schools, was set up as part of the government’s Extended After School Programme, which launched last year and offers eight different sports activities, including basketball, dance and scuba diving, to keep children busy between the hours of 3.30pm and 5.30pm. 

“Every club has to have some community aspect to its work and this is ours – cleaning up the harbour with our litter picking,” Mr. Hamilton said. 

In 2010, the club received a $4,000 grant from the Joanna Clarke Excellence in Education Award fund which enabled the High Schools Dive Club to purchase dive equipment for the students. 

The pair spent nearly an hour underwater, gathering all kinds of rubbish from the sea floor and from around the Cali wreck, including cans, plastic cups and bags, food containers and pieces of paper. 

“They say most of the rubbish is from cruise ships, but I found some local stuff down there, like a Kirk’s bag, so it’s not all falling off the ships,” Mr. Hamilton said. 

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Joseph Burey, left, and Hamish Hamilton with their garbage haul. – PHOTOS: NORMA CONNOLLY

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Joseph Burey, left, and Hamish Hamilton during their search of the Cali wreck for rubbish.

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Joseph Burey scopes out the sea bed for more litter.

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