Students make documentary on Cayman marine life

Five students from the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre are using their media skills to make a social action film about the threats to Cayman’s seas. 

The documentary “Deep Bleu” will focus on making observations about conservation efforts, the state of Cayman’s grouper population, current conditions of local reefs, water pollution, and the effect of captivity upon dolphins.  

The initiative is part of an extended class project at the Further Education Centre. The group, which is filming outside of school hours, expects to complete the project in May. 

Filmmakers Mikol Bodden, Alexei Bush, Tariah Lemay-Nottage, Melissa Narcisse, and Alyssa Thomas want people, especially their peers, to appreciate how fragile the oceans are. To do this, they are diving in head first to see the underwater environment and film their experiences for others to see. 

Ms. Lemay-Nottage, a 16-year-old Year 12 student focusing on creative media, said the project will educate her peers and visitors about Cayman’s marine life. “This project is about what the Cayman Islands revolves around – our water. We’re surrounded by it, and tourists come to look at it – that’s really what attracts them to the Cayman experience,” she said. 

They have conducted interviews with several people from the departments of Environment and Public Works, as well as marine conservationist and artist Guy Harvey.  

“This film is more of a journey as the students are making discoveries and finding they have more questions than answers,” said Claire Cox, a teacher and diver overseeing the project. 

Ms. Cox said that the course and project qualifications are meant to give students the skills to work independently and gain the confidence to explore their own thoughts and ideas.  

“We have a studio with lighting, camera, sound recorders and green screens. This is where they have conducted most of the interviews. We also have an office space with a meeting desk and several iMacs,” said Ms. Cox. 

The film group has set up its own company,Kaymanite Production, and Ms. Cox teaches them how to become directors, editors, producers and presenters.  

Dive operator Divetech is supporting the group with the course equipment and a PADI instructor at the Further Education Centre is donating his time. 

Environment Minister Wayne Panton said the project falls under his ministry’s mandate to encourage greater appreciation of Cayman’s waters. “The sea has always been an important part of the lives of Caymanians; we have grown up with a deep appreciation for the opportunities it presents and the life within it,” he said. “I believe that today our young people have an even deeper appreciation for the value of our marine environment.”  

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said, “These students have a chance to increase their knowledge of one of Cayman’s vitally important ecosystems. We are hopeful that the approach they are taking will also help them to acquire skills that will assist them in obtaining employment when the time comes for them to enter the job market.” 

Student Melissa Narcisse wanted to gain more of an understanding of how to protect the local reefs. “I am interested in the recent damage by the cruise ship, so for me, filming and creating this documentary about our reefs and other marine issues will be a very important way of bringing about change.  

“The way we, as locals, see our marine life is evolving. For me, learning to dive will help me not only see what other people have been saying about Cayman’s marine life, but also help me create my own opinion,” she said. The Ministry of Environment and the Department of the Environment’s $800 sponsorship of the group is being used to pay for dive trips, diving certification, equipment and camera gear. 

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Environment Minister Wayne Panton, fourth from left, presents a check for $800 to student Tariah Lemay-Nottage, as her fellow students and ministry, school and Department of Environment officials look on.
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