Manager turnover plagues Turtle Farm

In 2014, the Cayman Turtle Farm had three different people in the post of food and beverage manager, two managers for the farm and two people in charge of retail operations over the year, according to minutes from the government-owned company’s board of directors. 

Turtle Farm managing director Tim Adam said in an interview the Turtle Farm loses 12 to 14 employees per year, on average, through resignations and terminations. That amounts to more than 10 percent of the organization’s 90 employees leaving each year. 

Last year, seven people in senior management positions resigned from the Turtle Farm. 

“Really competent people who don’t need a work permit are in high demand,” Mr. Adam said, adding, “They get poached.” 

Mr. Adam said that as of now, only four of the company’s 90 full-time employees are on work permits. 

The food and beverage manager job, responsible for the tourism attraction’s restaurant, had three people in the post in 2014. The first resigned in January. A second was hired in March and started at the end of the month only to resign seven months later. The October meeting minutes, released through a Freedom of Information request and subsequent appeal, note, “F&B Manager had resigned as he had received an offer at a significantly higher salary.” 

The board of directors debated outsourcing the position but then hired a third manager in December – though she left the post the following May. 

The farm manager job, responsible for the meat production side of the operation, was vacant through 2014 until the beginning of June when a new employee came to Cayman on a work permit. But, the minutes note, the new manager resigned after just a couple of days. The meeting minutes state: “Unfortunately he decided for various reasons that the job was not the best fit for him.” 

June 2014 was when the farm was in the midst of an infection that eventually killed almost 1,300 turtles over four months. That same month, the retail manager also resigned after about three months on the job. 

The Cayman Compass tried to contact several former managers but had not received any responses as of press time. 

Argument caught on video 

One internal staffing issue at the farm came to light this week in a video posted on social media. The video shows a loud argument between Mr. Adam and lifeguard manager Christopher Willenborg during a personnel meeting at the beginning of the month. 

The video and documents posted online by Mr. Willenborg point to infighting among managers. 

Mr. Willenborg declined to comment and instead referred to his online postings to get his version of events on the record. He explained the context of the video in a recent post: “I stood up for an employee being wronged. Instead upper management tried to discipline me for standing up for an abused staff member.” 

In the video, Mr. Adam repeatedly tells Mr. Willenborg to “shut up” and to leave the premises after Mr. Willenborg makes accusations about the managing director. 

Mr. Adam declined to comment on the argument directly, calling it “abuse of the media” for, in his words, a “disgruntled employee” to leak a secret recording from an internal meeting. 

In a brief phone interview, Mr. Willenborg said he does not plan to return to his job at the Turtle Farm. 

The Tourism Ministry said in a statement that it is reviewing the matter. 

Mr. Adam
Mr. Adam


  1. LOL, if this were not such a serious matter that video would be really funny.

    In fairness to Mr Adam if I was having to run a dysfunctional train wreck like the Turtle Farm on a daily basis I suspect my temper might also get a bit short at times.

  2. After reading this report of the high turn over in staff at the turtle farm, and so often, on top of that, it seems that investigations should be carried out to reveal why was this happening?
    Of course I have followed the actions of persons who are against the turtle farm and its turtles being slaughtered for consumption, and cannot understand why would persons who are not Caymanians want to change something that been happening in our generation from the days of Columbus. I never heard of people eating chickens back then. It was all fish, conch, turtle and lobster. Chicken, pork and beef was imported by slave traders who was white.
    Can anyone really say that since all of this Hulla-blulu about the Farm, that we were not timely being set up to fail?
    On another note why would Mr Wilenburg want to set up internal meetings under camera and recordings. That was not done for no reasons,; there had to be a motive for that, and my comments are that this Turtle Farm Picture is much bigger than we are seeing.

  3. This sounds like the disrespect for the employees, and mismanagement of the farm , has caused the decease that is killing of the turtle . The people can leave, but the good/ poor helpless turtles has to stay there and die. I think that Ms Vargas might be right in saying that someone is out to shut the farm down.