Dart sponsors event, research
The Cayman Islands will host its first “shark week” this summer as part of a three-year sponsorship deal between Dart Realty and the Guy Harvey Research Institute.
The event at Camana Bay will feature documentary movies, some based in Cayman, and talks by researchers on international work to protect sharks. It will be free for up to 2,000 schoolchildren during three days of the event and open to paying members of the public in the evening.
Guy Harvey said Dart’s sponsorship, which he described as substantial, would also support various research projects including the monitoring of stingrays at the sandbar and an ongoing tagging and tracking project on oceanic whitetip sharks.
“With this grant, Dart have become an important player in the research field here in Cayman,” he said.
Mr. Harvey said private sector donations are crucial to marine research in Cayman.
“The lack of government assistance that we have had with things like the stingray surveys and the reluctance to release any funds from the Environmental Protection Fund means sponsorship is essential to research.”
Shark fishing is banned as part of the National Conservation Law. Mr. Harvey said the ban is a great first step, but he believes it will be difficult to enforce if the public does not understand and buy into it.
He believes events such as shark week are vital to emphasizing the importance of marine conservation.
He said educating young people about the value of the marine environment is a crucial part of his mission.
“Once you get people educated, you can execute conservation methods.
“I still fully believe the schools are our best avenue. I think there is a high level of interest in all things marine but there is not enough marine education in schools. Given the fact that we are surrounded by water, an appreciation and love for natural history is under-emphasized. There is a need for people like the DoE and for me to get into classrooms and do it,” he said.
Part of the oceanic whitetip tagging project involves each school group naming a tagged shark and following its progress on a satellite track over the next 12 months. Mr. Harvey said funding for the tags came from Dart’s sponsorship.
So far, researchers have tagged 13 sharks over the last two years at three separate fishing tournaments. Ultimately they aim to tag 50 sharks to create a picture of the animals’ movements and distribution around the Caribbean Sea and wider Atlantic.
Chris Duggan, of Dart, said, “We look forward to working with local schools on the oceanic whitetip shark tagging project and hope that this interactive project will help educate the next generation about the importance of ocean conservation.
“Dart is firmly committed to protecting the environment and this new, long-term partnership with Guy and his foundation will provide valuable resources to continue the critical work being done by his team in researching and protecting the valuable underwater environment that we are so fortunate to have here in the Cayman Islands.”