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Crookedfinger Art: Sustainable Fashion & Art

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Crookedfinger Art is an expression of my person style and creative impulses. – Kim Cadenhead

Meet Kim! 

Kim Cadenhead is the founder of Crookedfinger Art.  Kim has a unique quirk, two crooked pinky fingers, a result of a genetic glitch.  Her little quirk resulted in the inspiration for her company name, it is an ode to her unique characteristic which she embraces and has allowed her to flourish as an artist with her original artistic style.  Kim is passionate about various medias for art projects.  Her portfolio includes: paintings on canvas, mixed media, handcrafted sustainable products and graphic t-shirt designs.  Kim recently took part in an artist workshop in North Carolina.  The workshop gave Kim an opportunity to grow as an artist and finesse her painting skills.  Her experience there lead to her latest creative endeavor a series of floral paintings on both canvas and repurposed wooden trays— both wonderful works of art for home decor.

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Kim is an artist who is inspired by the environment around her and incorporates the very essence of her surroundings into her paintings, handmade items and mixed media projects.  In my humble option, I view Kim’s most recent floral collection as having a touch of influence from impressionist paintings incorporated with her own modern signature style, blending beautifully together.  Her floral paintings from her 2016 collection are my personal favorites.  Kim sells both original canvas artwork and canvas prints.

Sustainable Fashion and Eco Art

Since moving from Toronto, Canada to the Cayman Islands, Kim has visited local thrift shops to gather materials for her latest sustainable art projects.  It is her aspiration to repurpose materials found locally and transform them in sustainable handcrafted products including: beach tote bags, hand tote bags, messenger bags rugs, pot holders, coasters and even mixed media art pieces.

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It is rather astounding when you take a moment to realize the magnitude of materials available that has the potential to be repurposed and used in a sustainable way.  All of her eco-friendly items are handmade.  Kim’s sustainable art pieces have all been made from magazines that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.  Kim is an artist with an eco-conscious mindset.  Her sustainable fashion and home products prove that recycled and repurposed materials can be transformed into chic sustainable products.

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Support Local

Kim’s artwork and eco-friendly products are available for sale at Art Nest Creative Studio, at Pasadora Place.  You can also visit Kim at Camana Bay’s local Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays.

Stay Connected

Follow Kim on Facebook, click here

Follow Kim on Instagram, click here 

Visit her website, click here 

 

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Sea of Hope: Preserving the Heart of our Planet

 

Photo Credit: National Geographic

SEA OF HOPE follows iconic ocean explorer and conservationist Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned underwater photographer Brian Skerry, author and captain Max Kennedy, and their unlikely crew of teenage aquanauts on a year-long quest to secure their future. Deploying science and photography, they hope to inspire the creation of blue parks across an unseen and imperiled American wilderness.

It was an absolute honor to be published in Mission Blue’s Ocean Stories.  Please visit their website to read my full article Sea of Hope: Preserving the Heart of our Planet.  Sea of Hope is airing 15th January 2017 on National Geographic.

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

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Epiphany: How A Family Of Explorers & Conservationists Overcame Their Fears

 

View Epiphany Movie Trailer

A popular definition of epiphany as defined in the Oxford Dictionary is: “A moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.  For me, an epiphany is a sublime moment.  It is an awakening, when your thoughts come into focus and there is a moment of clarity.  The opportunity presents itself as an illuminating thought.  A moment of such great revelation can bring forth incredible things.

I have had the privilege to get to know award-winning filmmaker and wildlife cinematographer Michael Maes and his wife Ellen Cuylaerts, an award-winning wildlife photographer.  They are truly two of the most amazing people I have ever met.  They are inspiring, compassionate, kind, generous, brave and humble people.  I am grateful to know them.  As a family they live intriguing and extraordinary lives as explorers and conservationists.  They explore the world and use their gifts and talents in film and photography to share their passion for conservation with the world.  An underlying message in their documentary Epiphany is the power of film and photography.  I am a firm believer that art whether it is in the form of film, photography, writing or any other genre has the ability to create change and have a positive impact.  The photographs and film both Michael and Ellen share with the world captures stunning encounters with wildlife, marine life and spectacular scenic views of nature.  It serves to remind us this planet is worth fighting for and protecting.  Art has an incredible ability to connect us all on a universal level.

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For Michael and Ellen, film and photography is a means for them to contribute to nature and conservation— a way of giving back.  They use their films and photography to educate, and create awareness about various environmental issues.  A strong image whether captured in a still photograph or a moving picture can evoke emotion, share a powerful message and allow an opportunity for one to be enlightened and enriched.  In particular, a scene in their documentary Epiphany with Whale Sharks captures a collection of beautiful moments spent in the presence of these majestic creatures.  There is utter tranquility within this scene and the Whale Sharks swim gracefully.  The scene showed the majesty of sharks— they are not to be feared but respected.  Other scenes with Oceanic White Tips present the elegant poises and patterns of these sharks as they glide through the water, depicting them beautifully in their natural habitat.  The sharks and divers were able to inhabit the space harmoniously.  It is important to note, the divers still had to remain very vigilant at all times.  Ellen and Michael take great care in the composition of their photography by ensuring they develop a connection with the wildlife during their encounter and allow that to translate in their photography.  By doing so, it creates a powerful image illustrating that there is a story and meaning behind every photograph.  The heart of their photography and film is to remind us all what a privilege it is to live on this beautiful planet and to not take for granted our natural resources, the environment, the ocean and all animals.  There is a great urgency for a united effort and action to happen globally to increase conservation of the environment and protection of all animals.  As advocates for the ocean they are keen to promote awareness of the urgency to protect sharks.  Ellen and Michael use film and photography to promote conservation and help rehabilitate the image of sharks by showing us that sharks are to be respected not feared.  The real fear is a life without sharks.  The reality is if sharks continue to be slaughtered for their fins and their population continues to rapidly decline they will face extinction.  Sharks have been roaming the ocean immensely longer than humans have inhabited the planet.  It would be a great tragedy for sharks to become extinct.  There is no coming back from extinction.

 

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Recently, I had the opportunity to watch their documentary Epiphany a film that is inspiring and moving.  The film left a profound impact on me.  It is a film that I hold dear to my heart, as it was truly special to watch a film friends of mine had made and with such admirable bravery they shared their story with the world.  I implore others to watch their award-winning documentary which is currently available on iTunes.  The documentary touches on a variety of themes: the power of art and film, conservation of sharks, environmentalism, Autism, the unbreakable bond of a family and finding bravery to overcome fear.  Michael and his family are incredibly courageous to share a vulnerable side of their lives and their journey through life with the world.  Primarily, the narrative of the film tells the journey of Ellen and how she finds the bravery to overcome her fear of the ocean.  It is her kids that leads Ellen back to nature.  It is on this journey, Ellen rediscovers her love for photography which allows her to overcome her fear of the water by swimming with sharks and photographing them.  The film also touches on Michael and their kids Margaux and Max leading extraordinary lives with autism.  A takeaway from their documentary is that there is a need in this world to look past each others differences and accept one another as they are.  We are all uniquely different and that is what adds to our individual beauty.  There is a need for society to stop labelling and creating divides due to differences— being different can be a remarkable gift.  A beautiful message within in the film, is the families unbreakable bond.  The diagnosis of Autism running in their family understandably initially created a feeling of isolation, fear and hardship.  However, together as a family they were able to thrive and live out their passions.  All of them having wonderfully marvelous courageous lives.  As a family they inspire us all to live a life of compassion, kindness and bravery.

 

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The power and healing of nature is beautifully interwoven within the story which unfolds throughout the documentary.  Nature serves as a catalyst to connect the family together, strengthen their bond and open doors for amazing opportunities to share their passion for conservation, film, photography and art.  A beautiful synergy is built between the family as they collectively immerse themselves in exploring nature and the depths of the ocean.  A profound message the documentary presents is that Ellen is able to move past her fear of the ocean and develop a trust within nature.  The ocean serves as a bit of a paradox in Ellen’s life, while on one hand it is the foundation of her fear of water, yet on the other, it serves to inspire her to contribute to conservation, follow her passion of photography and connect deeply with her family.  By having nature as an integral component of their lives, the differences within the family does not create walls to divide them, in fact nature bridges the family together and anchors them.  Moreover, through expeditions exploring nature, it brings forth a bravery within each of them to overcome their own personal fears.  Through their conservation efforts and giving back to nature, each of them were able embrace their individualism and remain true to themselves and their passion for the environment, photography, film and art.

Meet Michael Maes

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Michael Maes is a wildlife filmmaker, specialized in big animals and animal behavior. His portfolio (both underwater and topside) covers the polar regions, temperate waters and the tropics. He has a passionate interest for polar bears and Arctic whales.

His work has been broadcast on various national television like Nat Geo Wild, Outside Television, CBC. It also received recognition at a myriad of international film festivals; reflecting the ability to translate the need for wildlife conservation onto the screen.

In 2015 Michael was inducted as cinematographer in the Ocean Artists Society (http://www.oceanartistssociety.org), an organization uniting artists worldwide to raise awareness and protect the marine environment through art. Michael is also a founding Navigator of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (http://www.reefresearch.org), a leading scientific research centre in the Caribbean focusing on coral reef restoration, research on coral resilience, and ocean education.

More About Michael  

Website michaelmaes.com   (Currently Under Construction)

Check out some of his recent Arctic Work:

 

Q & A with Award-winning Filmmaker Michael Maes

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1. What inspired the documentary and for you to tell this story?

Ellen Cuylaerts; my wife; challenged herself to overcome her fear of water and sharks, culminating her personal growth by feeding those feared sharks. That was the story to which many viewers can relate to.

2. What is the heart of the documentary? Or the core message for audiences to take from watching the film?

Basically Epiphany is a story about all of us. Everyone has his or her fears, everyone faces challenges of life, we can all make decisions to alter our paths.

Epiphany shows the viewer setbacks can be turned into strongholds of life itself.

In short, Epiphany is a story of hope.

3. Did you face any challenges while making this documentary?

Apart from logistical nightmares, the complete lack of privacy for our family during the 18 months of filming was very exigent. Although most of the shootings were at dream locations, we constantly had cameras and microphones pointed at or near us. Especially Ellen as I was fortunate enough to be behind the camera for most of the underwater filming and all areal cinematography.

Next would be the communication between the producer (me) and the rest of the crew. Having autism makes it very difficult to communicate my thoughts; up to a point where I even think I “say” something but I actually only “think” it. That has lead to many difficult situations, frustrations and even words. But, ultimately and always thanks to Ellen, we regrouped and were able to finish a gem.

4. What was one key lesson you learned from making this film?

Don’t think what you say but say what you think!

5. Is there a particular scene in the documentary that resonates with you or has the most significant meaning to you?

To me the most emotional scene in the documentary is at the end where Ellen stands strong among tens of sharks circling her and I (you can’t see that of course as I am filming it) am lying flat on the sand at her feet; filming Ellen from that extreme low angle; all the way up to the water surface; sharks everywhere.

That scene grabs me the most as it portrays in images the fact that Ellen conquered her fear, surrounded by sharks yet she is the one who is in charge! There she stands, holding food next to her body, telling the sharks with her body-language to not come in for the food… she… her… your wife… the mother of your two children… surrounded by sharks… I cannot express how powerful that scene is for a filmmaker who’s the husband of the talent…

As a cinematographer that scene also grabs me as it is – excuse-moi the bragging – simply a formidable shot completed by the genius score of music written by the Belgian musician Eric Bettens.

6. What was your favorite filming location?

Honestly? None! They all had their particular challenges and filmic rewards. A favorite moment I could tell you: a close to two hour dive with only Ellen and myself at Tiger Beach. We were down there without bait or chum. We just wanted to have our Zen moment; away from the fuzzy madness of the production. Did we get rewarded for being there: we had three 12 feet tiger sharks and a bunch of lemons and reefies. A mind-blowing peaceful moment! This footage did not end up in the documentary as the sequences were too long and beautiful to cut. Now that Epiphany is released I will review those amazing scenes again.

7. What do you hope this documentary will accomplish? Or what is your goal or hope for this film?

Of course we want to spread awareness on the sad condition sharks are facing globally. But we also want people to think about their own life and take action if they want to. We want Epiphany to bring hope to those whom are trapped in a fixed pattern, caught in a seemingly hopeless situation.

8. What does the film mean to you and your family?

30 months of blood, sweat and tears.

9. Do you believe film and art has the power to help bring positive changes to the environment?

Many of the world’s environmental issues are far out of reach of most people. Pictures and film bring those issues closer to many, though often in the hard “documenting” way – which is good of course.

Bringing the animals and their world to the beholder in all beauty – nature as it is – makes people see the beauty of those animals. This could lessen the fear of the unknown and invoke interest in the animal or its habitat. Every time I get a message from someone I don’t know telling me some work of mine made him or her get interested in that animal or its environment, is a bigger reward to me than a paycheck.

10. Do you find using art and film as a medium allows you to see the impact and changes in the environment differently, than as opposed to just reading about the issues our environment faces?

As I am a person whom thinks in images, I would believe so. However I feel this question should better be answered by an avid and passionate reader.

More Info about Epiphany 

Website            : www.epiphany.movie

Epiphany on iTunes : https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/epiphany/id1169290433

Trailer Epiphany                     : https://vimeo.com/156486645

Special Thanks

Special thanks: Photos and video courtesy of Michael Maes and Ellen Cuylaerts

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For The Love Of Animals: Ian Somerhalder Foundation Medical Emergency Grants

 

Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

A truly heartwarming initiative was started by the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) to aid in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals that have heartbreaking stories of being abused, neglected or suffered a traumatic injury.  These animals are deserving and in need of a second chance.  ISF created their Medical Emergency Program to extend compassion to these animals and assist in aiding to their recovery and wellbeing.  ISF launched their Medical Emergency Grant Program on Valentine’s Day, 2014.  A day symbolizing a commitment of love and compassion towards animals— inspiring others to do the same.  Since the inception of this program, they have helped over 1,000 animals including: cats, dogs, turtles, birds, bats, horses, sheep, cows, sea lions, goats, rabbits, and more.  All have benefited from an ISF Medical Emergency Grant— giving them an improved quality of life, resulting in a touching success stories.  These animal rescues are now living happier lives with their new families in their forever homes. The testimony of these animals show, that animals have an incredible resilience no matter how difficult the hardship they faced.  They also remind of us of the incredible bond animals establish with humans, despite the suffering they endured, once they found a new and loving family in a safe environment they continue to express love unconditionally.

Animals have an exquisitely poignant way of teaching us, through demonstration, how to love and be loved. We learn compassion, as well as expand our perception of the infinite connection to the environment around us, from our creature friends–whether they are furry and lick us, or slither and swim. We owe it to these creatures to provide protection, healing and love. That is exactly why I am so proud that the IS Foundation has launched our first grant program — the Emergency Medical Grant for Animals – Ian Somerhalder

ISF provides grants to both the US and Canada and works closely with dedicated teams of amazing rescuers in various parts of the US and Canada who are on the front line every day finding animals in need of a better life and urgent care.  These admirable individuals advocate on the behalf of these animals.  Animals that receive an Emergency Medical Grant have been found either, abused, neglected or have suffered a traumatic injury.  ISF reviews applications and typically makes a decision within a week.  They then have the money sent out the following week to the treating veterinarians and rescuers.  The ISF Medical Emergency Grant criteria and eligibility can be found on the ISF website, Grant Information Page.  “The purpose of this grant is to provide animal victims a second chance by alleviating their rescuers of the financial stress of treatment so they can focus on facilitating the animal’s adoption into a permanent, loving home” ISF works with individuals, animal rescuers, veterinarians and non-profit organizations seeking to rescue and rehabilitate animal victims.  (ISF)

The ISF Medical Emergency Grants Program has done an incredible job of bettering the lives of so many animals.  Animals that have had the opportunity to recover and rehabilitate now have wonderful success stories inspiring us all to help protect and care for animals in need.  ISF has established a network of dedicated animal rescuers (grantees) and built amazing relationships with them over the past 2 years.  Their collaboration and teamwork has created a positive impact.  An added bonus, the ISF have met so many loving animals that have greatly benefited from their program.  In instances when the animal in need and the rescuer are near by, the ISF take the opportunity to meet with the animal and rescuer(s).  The ISF have shared a plethora of wonderful heartwarming success stories of the animals they have help give a second chance to. To read their success stories visit their grant success page.  Their dedication to provide resources to assist in bringing a life changing positive impact on the lives of animals that have deeply suffered, inspires us all to work together to be a voice for animal victims that have endured a painful hardship.

Must Love Animals

Below are a few success stories of the ISF Medical Emergency Grant

Meet Elsa

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Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Meet Ozzy

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Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Meet Twinkle Toes

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Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

To support the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and stay up-to-date with their projects follow them on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website 

The Cayman Islands: A Haven for Sharks & Rays

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

The Cayman Islands has built its name and reputation primarily on being a renowned diving destination.  Pioneers in our local diving community over the last few decades contributed to building our diving industry into the premier operation that it is today.  They recognized the exquisite beauty our underwater landscape had to offer and have since then made it accessible for locals and tourists to recreationally experience and explore the beauty that lies below the surface for themselves.  With a desire to showcase our natural resources comes with a commitment to preserve them.  Our duty towards conservation for both land and the ocean is beneficial not just from an environmental perspective but also an economic one.  Our tourism industry is strongly tied to our island’s natural resources.  Ergo, an obvious reason to ensure that our natural resources are protected.  Last year on Earth Day (2015), the Cayman Islands officially became a Sharks and Rays Sanctuary.  The sanctuary expands across all three islands.  This is a positive step towards ecotourism as many tourists are keen to visit places that are committed to conservation.

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

 

“I’m extremely grateful that the Cayman Islands recognized the need to make the islands a shark and ray sanctuary. Not only will their protected status benefit the health of the reefs but it’s also a strong statement towards the tourism industry which is an important source of revenue. By protecting our natural resources the Cayman Islands puts itself in the the market of the informed and eco friendly tourist making the right choice for the future generations.” -Ellen Cuylaerts

Sharks in the Water

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

By virtue of us standing by and not acting to protect coral reefs and marine life that are under threat there is a very likely possibility that corals reefs will continue to become degraded and even destroyed.  The caribbean has already lost 80% of its coral reefs.  There is an intricate connection between coral reefs and all marine life.  If keystone species such as sharks continue to decrease in population it will have a tremendous impact on the coral reefs and the marine life that depend on the reefs.  A scary thought that should be racing through everyone’s minds is what if I never see a shark in the water again?  Our fear should be driven by the thought of what will happen to our ocean and the ecosystem if shark populations globally continues to spiral down or worse become extinct.  Sharks are a keystone species and are fundamental to maintaining the health and balance of: coral reefs, marine life and the ocean.  Without their presence there could potentially be a devastating collapse within our fragile ecosystem as their role in keeping our “life support” viable is monumental.  Ultimately, we need a healthy ocean as 70% of the world’s oxygen comes from there.  Healthy shark populations means healthy reefs.  Coral reefs support 1/4 of all marine life.  Healthy reefs means a flourishing population of marine life.  This is beneficial for: our ecosystem, recreational divers, snorkelers and for fisherman.  Balance within our ecosystem is key to benefiting the preservation of the planet, as well as a thriving diving industry, tourism industry and fisherman.

We can’t fail to act to protect our ocean and marine life.  The ocean is often referred to as the heart of the planet.  There seems to be a collective assumption that the ocean is indestructible, that no matter the amount of pollution pumped into the ocean it will always reset itself, that there will always be coral reefs and an abundance of fish, sharks and all marine life.  It is as though we cannot fathom the thought that it could all go away one day.  The reality is the ocean like anything else has its limitations.  We cannot keep testing the ocean’s ability to bounce back.  It is evident that the ocean is under an immense amount stress due to climate change and the rapid decrease in the populations of a multitude of marine species.  For instance, sharks and rays are under threat.  Every year, 70 million sharks are killed for their fins (Fin Free).  In comparison it is reported that targeted Manta Ray populations have declined by an estimated 56% to 88% in recent years (Wild Aid).  With this in mind, there is an urgency for countries around the world to declare their waters as a shark and rays sanctuary.  The more protection coverage of the ocean for sharks and rays will by virtue allow for coral reefs, and fish populations to have time to recover and recuperate.  This is beneficial to everyone.

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Specifically to our waters, current research indicated that we have a lower shark population than expected for a healthy reef ecosystem.  This suggests that our waters need an increase in sharks to ensure our coral reefs can remain healthy.  Shark populations recover over a significant period of time and sanctuaries can provide a safe haven for populations to recuperate.  Presently, there are no comparative ray nor shark surveys specific to our region.  It is difficult to state how our population of sharks and rays compares to other islands in the Caribbean.  However, some research conducted by Marine Conservation International (Research Partners of Department of Environment Cayman Islands) suggests that Cayman’s shark numbers are relatively low in comparison to our Caribbean neighbors.  Notably, numbers will vary from species to species.  However, our waters have a fair population of sharks and rays. Both species are being threatened across the Caribbean and around the world.  Protecting sharks and rays regionally will benefit not only our territory but also on a global scale as it encourages other countries to designate their waters as a sanctuary for these magnificent creatures.  It is evident that the protection of sharks and rays needs to be made as a united effort, and the Cayman Islands is doing their part to help in this initiative.  Now that our waters have been designated as a shark and ray sanctuary there is hope that it  will give our shark population a chance to recover.

A Sanctuary for Sharks, Rays & Coral Reefs

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The sanctuary serves as a haven for our sharks and rays. Our sharks and rays are of great significance to our coral reefs and marine environment both ecologically and economically.  Most importantly their protection is needed to ensure their survival —our ecosystem depends on it.

The sanctuary also serves as a means to benefit our island not only from an ecological standpoint but economically.  The protection of sharks and rays has a direct impact on benefiting our tourism industry.  Sharks are a highlight for divers.  Whereas, rays can be seen in a large school at Stingray City located at the sandbar on the eastern side of Grand Cayman.  Protecting our sharks and rays within our region will not only allow for a positive impact on improving the health of our coral reefs but also it will help to maintain our status as a popular diving destination.  Flourishing reefs serve us ecologically but as an added bonus they are attractive diving spots helping our tourism industry and economy.

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Declaring Cayman waters as a sharks and rays sanctuary is a positive step towards ecotourism and beneficial for our islands.  Countries making a shift towards ecotourism demonstrates that we can find a balance between developing the economy of a country but not at the cost of losing their natural resources.  It is possible to use our natural resources and benefit from them and not destroy them —rather there is an emphasis on the preservation of natural resources as they have intrinsic value.  Specific to Caribbean islands our natural resources are everything to our tourism industry which greatly impacts our economy.  For Cayman, we could look at the ocean as the very soul of our island.  Our culture is bound to the ocean and it is imperative that we continue to move forward in protecting our ocean, coral reefs, marine life and natural environment.  Cayman’s transition into ecotourism has helped to establish the Cayman Islands as setting a positive example for other islands in the Caribbean by way of encouraging other islands to consider becoming a sharks and rays sanctuary to increase the coverage of areas that serve as a haven for them.  While, our waters protect a small percentage of sharks and rays in our region, and is making a positive impact, it would be greatly beneficial if other regional countries made their waters a sanctuary.  Alone, we can make a small difference, but together we can make a much stronger impact.  Protecting the coral reefs, marine life, sharks and rays is a global need.  

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Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts

 

This article was also published in Mission Blue’s Ocean Stories please click here 

World Oceans Day: Game Changers

In honour of celebrating World Ocean’s Day (8 June), and this year being designated as the International Year of the Reef, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise some amazing people who are making waves in Ocean Conservation.  These incredible souls are my personal heroes and legends in their own right.  They are ocean conservationists who are indeed game changers.  They are movers and shakers in the world of ocean conservation and are dedicated to creating a positive impact for the betterment of our oceans.  They all share the common goal of protecting and preserving our oceans, marine life and precious coral reef ecosystems. They are all an inspiration.  I am so proud to call these luminaries my friends, it is such a privilege to know them and be inspired by them.  I admire them for all that they do to raise awareness about environmental issues and their ocean conservation efforts.  

Ellen Cuylaerts, Underwater and Wildlife Photographer, and Conservationist

It is a true honour to know Ellen Cuylaerts.  She has an incredible spirit, humble and a beautiful soul.  As a world traveler, an underwater and wildlife photographer and conservationist, one is easily inspired by Ellen’s journey and passion for conservation.  Ellen uses her talents as a means of promoting awareness for conservation and environmental issues.  Her photographs are not only stunning, but absolutely moving.  She has received multiple awards and high acclaims for her art and photography globally. She has a real artistry for telling a story through her photography.  In particular, much of her photography focuses on sharks.  Ellen has a tremendous love and respect for sharks.  With this in mind, she is committed to changing the misperception that often taints the portrayal of sharks.  Sharks are one of the most misunderstood animals in the world.  Ellen, conquered her fears, learned how to dive, and swam with sharks.  Whilst, embarking on this journey, she documented her ocean moments with sharks taking extraordinary photos that showcased the beauty of sharks in their natural habitat.  The biggest takeaway is that it is a true privilege to see a shark.  Sharks are not to be feared, but respected.    

Brittany Balli & Aaron Hunt, Founders of Eco Divers Reef Foundation

Brittany Balli and Aaron Hunt, are founders of Eco Divers Reef Foundation.  A husband and wife team devoted to the conservation of coral reefs in the Cayman Islands.  As divers, they have a great love for the ocean and coral reefs.  They are more than happy to take ocean enthusiasts, whether fellow divers or avid snorkelers, to see the many underwater treasures Cayman’s dive sites have to offer.  Together they have established a wonderfully successful coral conservation program here in the Cayman Islands through their non-profit organisation, Eco Divers Reef Foundation.  Their Coral Tree Nursery Program is celebrating its one year anniversary and has proven successful in helping revitalise fragile and/or damaged local reefs.  A huge thank you to all of their dedicated volunteers who helped make the conservation efforts successful.  Currently, there are 3 coral nurseries, and 10 “coral trees’ that are thriving with 6 unique genotypes to promote biodiversity upon each out plant reef site.  In addition, to managing and maintaining the coral nurseries and out plant sites Brittany and Aaron, have just recently launched an online educational program about Ocean Conservation on their YouTube channel.  They also regularly visit local schools to give talks and presentations about coral reefs and ocean conservation.  

Force Blue, Non-Profit Organisation

Founders Keith Sahm, Jim Riiterhoff and Rudy Reyes have made it their mission to improve the lives of veterans through coral reef conservation.  FORCE BLUE made their first deployment to aid in helping with the coral reef conservation efforts in the Cayman Islands. It was an absolute honour to meet the members of FORCE BLUE Team One.  Listening to them tell their story was a moving experience and left a profound lasting impression on me.  FORCE BLUE provides hope and a new mission for veteran combat divers.  They are taught how to recalibrate their skills for the betterment of the environment through preserving coral reefs.  The program offers veterans a new purpose and a means of maintaining a brotherhood whilst carrying out a noble mission, preserving the world’s coral reefs.  Since, their first deployment in the Cayman Islands the team have assisted with coral reef conservation in both Florida and Puerto Rico.  

FORCE BLUE is launching their “Be a Force Multiplier” campaign on World Oceans Day (June 8) to sponsor their six new recruits for FORCE BLUE’s TEAM TWO through their upcoming August Training Deployment in Little Cayman and the Florida Keys.  TEAM TWO will undergo training and apply their new skillset towards coral reef conservation.  If you would like to support FORCE BLUE and sponsor a vet please visit their website, www.forceblueteam.org Every dollar raised will go directly toward bringing one of these heroes onto their team.  

Taryn Larock, Founder of Sage Larock, Sustainable Fashion Designer

Taryn Larock is a sustainable fashion designer and founder of Sage Larock , Sustainable Luxury— made in Los Angeles, California.  Taryn uses sustainable fashion as a platform to raise ocean awareness with a focus on ocean plastic pollution and ghost nets.  Sage Larock is proudly partnered with Healthy Seas.  A fundamental component of Sage Larock’s ethos is putting the betterment of the ocean at the forefront.  That being said, Sage Larock manufactures their swimwear using ethical and sustainable practices.  Their swimwear is made from upcycled plastic debris and ghost nets found in the ocean or along the beach.  A percentage of their swimwear sales goes towards ocean conservation.   

Shilpi Chhotray, Plastic Pollution Activist and Social Entrepreneur

Shilpi is a Senior Communications Officer for Break Free From Plastic, the global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good (#breakfreefromplastic). Shilpi is responsible for the development and implementation of communications strategies that advance the goals of the #breakfreefromplastic global movement. As Senior Communications Officer, Shilpi builds alliances and communications flows between Europe, Asia, and North America and amplifies stories from Break Free member organizations to share with the world.  Prior to joining Break Free, Shilpi worked at Mission Blue | Sylvia Earle Alliance to further their mission of igniting public support for a global network of marine protected areas. She comes with a decade of experience in ocean advocacy and conservation policy including coalition building around plastic waste prevention. 

She is also the founder of Samudra Skin & Sea, where she is making waves raising ocean awareness using her sustainable skincare line as a platform.  Samudra Skin & Sea is an ocean inspired skincare line featuring wild harvested seaweed..  Their ethos is putting ocean awareness at the forefront— a fundamental element of their business model.  To ensure they are doing their part to help beat plastic pollution their packaging is sustainably made.  As a small business, they are leading the way in the beauty and wellness industry to encourage positive changes and keep a focus on plastic pollution, sustainability and ocean conservation through setting a positive example for businesses’ to follow.  Samudra partners with a number of organisations committed to protecting people and marine life.

Julia Barnes, Documentary Filmmaker

At the age of 16 years old, Julia Barnes embarked on her three year journey to make her first documentary, Sea of Life, which went on to win prestigious awards and high acclaim.  Sea of Life is a film offering hope and imploring us to do everything within our power to create a positive change.  Her documentary reminds us that we still have time to turn things around and work towards restoring fragile ecosystems, replenish declining populations and rejuvenate coral reefs through effective conservation efforts.  Acting now and persistently is pivotal to ensuring a positive future for our oceans.  Julia teaches us that no matter our age, we have the power to create change and make a positive impact.  She reminds us through her debut as documentary filmmaker the importance of speaking up about issues that matter to us and utilising our talents for the greater good of raising awareness about important issues.  

World Oceans Day: Sustainable Fashion Ocean Inspired Giveaway

In honour of World Oceans Day (June 8) Eco Chic Cayman is proud to partner with Sage Larock and host a giveaway whilst, raising ocean awareness through our social media campaign focusing on topics including: plastic pollution, ghost nets and protecting coral reefs.  This year, World Oceans Day theme is: “Preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean.” We couldn’t agree more with this very relevant call to action.  Now more than ever, communities, companies, and organisations need to unite in a global effort to put an end to plastic pollution and unnecessary plastic packaging.  We can all do our part to contribute to the end of plastic pollution, by taking a simple pledge to stop using single-use plastics is a great starting point.  It is said, that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if plastic pollution continues to escalate.  Plastic is harmful to marine life and is often ingested as it is commonly mistaken as food.  Reportedly, plastic is said to be having negative impacts and proving to be harmful to coral reefs.  Not to mention, ghost nets and drift nets are highly dangerous to marine life.  Unfortunately, marine life such as turtles, seals, whales and sharks become entangled in drift nets and if unable to break free the result is fatal.    

How To Enter

 

  1. 1. Follow both @sagelarock and @ecochiccayman on Instagram
  2. Like and comment (State why you love the ocean) on photo (as seen above) on either @sagelarock or @ecochiccayman Instagram account.
  3. Contest open internationally 
  4. Sign up for Sage Larock Newsletter and Eco Chic Cayman Newsletter  (Click links to view their websites)
  5. Winner will be decided June 15th 2018 and contacted via Instagram
  6. Winner will be announced on both @sagelarock and @ecochiccayman Instagram accounts
  7. Winner will receive all items mentioned in the giveaway.  There is only one winner. Winner is selected at random and their response as to why they love the ocean. 

The Ultimate Ocean-Friendly Goodies You Can Win

Huge thank you to our sponsors for donating these ocean inspired goodies. 

  1. Sustainable Swimwear made by Sage Larock

Win a US$100 Gift Certificate from Sage Larock.  Sage Larock designs eco luxury swimwear.  Sage Larock uses sustainable fashion as a platform to raise ocean awareness.  Their sustainable swimsuits are made from reclaimed plastic and ghost nets found in the ocean or along the beach.  Founder, Taryn Sage Larock is devoted to designing both stylish and sustainable swimwear that is ethically made.  A portion of their sales goes towards Healthy Seas.  

  1. Ocean-Guard T-shirt designed by Eco Chic Cayman

Eco Chic Cayman’s “Ocean-Guard” t-shirts are made on a demand and supply order basis and supports local as a means of sustainability.  Our t-shirts were designed to raise awareness for coral reefs.  A portion of the proceeds from each sale of our Ocean-Guard t-shirts go directly towards supporting coral reef conservation in the Cayman Islands.  Specifically, Eco Divers Reef Foundation, Coral Nursery Program. 

  1. Reef Safe Sunscreen & Lip Balm provided by Le Visage

Le Visage takes pride in offering an array of eco-friendly, ethically made and animal cruelty free cosmetics and skincare products.  With this year being the International Year of the Reef, it is only fitting to include reef safe sunscreen and lip balm in our giveaway.  Coola Eco-Lux Sunscreen is an organic sunscreen with key ingredients antioxidants such as Cucumber, Algae, Strawberry, and Red Raspberry Seed Oil.  Coola Lip Balm is organic and vitamin-enriched, antioxidant formula protects and conditions lips with natural fruit butters.  Enjoy their peppermint and vanilla flavour. 

  1. Reusable Metal Straw provided by Shark Conservation Cayman

Plastic straws are no longer in vogue.  Reusable metal straws are not only on trend but they are the way forward— there really is no longer a need for plastic straws.  What makes these metal straws extra cool, (here in the Cayman Islands) for every straw sold a portion of the proceeds goes towards Shark Conservation Cayman.  

  1. Bamboo Shades provided by Stoak’d Cayman

Stoak’d Cayman have got the coolest bamboo shades that will have you setting a trend all summer long.  Sustainably made from bamboo, these eco-friendly sunglasses are in vogue when it comes to sustainable fashion accessories. 

 

Good Luck!

Nature Is My Gym

(Photo Credit: Lori Speirs. Sustainable Fashion, Clothing made from upcycled plastic: Laura is wearing Swimsuit by Sage Larock and Leggings from Activ Angels. Shoes by Parley & Adidas, Ultraboost  Alicia is wearing sustainable fashion leggings from Recycled Maggie Designs)

Nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts, get ready for a new series on our blog… “Nature Is My Gym”.  Spending time in nature has many positive benefits. Nature is great for rejuvenating the mind, body and soul.  

It is that time of year, summer is just on the horizon and nature is calling us all to spend a little more time outdoors.  Now is the perfect time for many of us to start getting into shape.  Maybe our goal or motivation is to be “bikini ready” for the summer.  That being said, at the end of the day fitness is a lifestyle and should go beyond summer.  With this in mind, fitness should be focused on getting your body in the best shape possible with your overall goal being set on being healthy.  It shouldn’t focus on unrealistic goals.  It is about feeling good, increasing our fitness level and being healthy.  An important aspect of mindfulness and fitness is to love yourself and remember that your fitness journey is a process.  Taking care of your body means allocating time out of your day to exercise (even if it is just 10 minutes) and eating healthy as often as you can.  Sure, you are gonna have a cheat day, and that is ok.  It is key to maintain a sense of moderation and healthy balance across all your meals.  This will allow you to feel great inside and out.  

On that note, we are delighted to announce that we are starting a collaboration with Alicia Proud, founder of Life.with.Lis. our series will be called, “Nature Is My Gym.”  The series serves to inspire fitness enthusiasts to think of nature as being their new favorite place to workout.  Our collaboration will focus on using nature as your gym and all the effective workouts you can do outdoors and achieve your fitness goals.  There are so many wonderful benefits from working out outdoors.  Nature is the best gym ever— with those lush scenic views.  In addition, we will be sharing healthy meal ideas inspired by the local produce from the farmers market.  Plus, recipes for post workout snacks and shakes.  For just over a month now, I have had a blast working out with friends and Alicia using nature as our gym.  Spending more time outdoors and connecting with nature while working out has been such a positive experience.   

Meet Alicia!  

Alicia Proud is an animal lover and wellness enthusiast.  Alicia is the founder of Life.with.Lis, an online coaching hub for all things fitness tips, workout plans and healthy recipes.  Check out her newly launched website http://aliciaproud.com  Alicia has a background as a health and fitness entrepreneur who inspires others to lead a healthier, happier more fulfilling lifestyles.  Alicia is passionate about teaching the benefits of movement, smart nutrition and the positive benefits simple lifestyle changes can have on your mind and body.  As a health coach & fitness coach, Alicia has built engaging customised workout plans (perfect for at home workouts) and nutritious meals helping to transform your short term goals into life long habits.  Alicia loves the small oasis of island life and shares her time between the Cayman Islands and Menorca.

Q&A with Alicia

 

1.What inspired you to become a health and fitness coach?

I have always been active in team sports and my own journey to a healthier ‘me’ but joining the Beachbody community just over a year ago along side my 9-5 job, prompted me to do this full time and follow my passions for fitness and health coaching. My aim is to help as many people lead healthier happier lifestyles as possible. Creating new lifelong habits!

2. What makes nature a great gym?

A lot of my workouts involve using your own body weight which means you don’t need any equipment, so taking your workout outside, breathing in the fresh air, and getting your sweat on in my eyes is the best medicine. There is no need for a gym these days you can do so much in your surroundings.

3. What is your favorite workout?

I am a big team sports player from volleyball, to ultimate frisbee, tennis, netball, I wish I had pursued sport more when I was young and become a professional athlete but when you are young you never see your potential,  you just do it for fun. If I am not playing a team sport, I love to workout at home and accomplish a feeling of power and muscle ache. So one of my quick effective power up workouts suits me each day.

4. What is your favorite post workout snack or shake?

Post and pre workout snack for me is pretty much the same every day – rice cake with peanut butter. And the only shakes I make, consist of a product called shakeology. Nutrition and delicious!

5. What inspires you to follow through with your workouts even on days you don’t feel like working out?

I have learnt the hard way from many years of slogging hours of CV (Cardio Vascular) sessions at the gym that consistency and following a program is the key, so showing up every day or every session and getting it done is vital. The more you make excuses to stop, the more you will find and soon you will wonder what happened to your fitness or your body, which ever comes first?

Working out makes you feel amazing and makes you as a whole, a much better person.

6. Where is your favorite place in nature to do a workout?

Depending on what sort of workout you want to do, I love to walk my dogs exploring the Cayman dykes and little forest routes one of my favourite times of day. I enjoy swimming in our beautiful waters and then a short workout can just about be done anywhere, on the beach, in your garden, in the shaded woodland.

7. What is the biggest takeaway you found from your fitness journey?

Consistency and commitment would be the biggest things I have learnt over these last few years. It sounds so very simple but if you eat clean and stay hydrated, workout every day you will feel the benefits all through your body, mind and spirit.

8. What tip would you give to beginners on a fitness journey?

Start gradual, if you were learning to run a 5km you wouldn’t go out and just run it, you would build up to it. The same things goes with any fitness and movement, start gradual learn the move keep good form and then progressively steps can be added making it harder, making you stronger.   Do not spend hours doing pointless cardio work at the gym, after a while you will see no change, why? Because the body gets to use to it, you need to keep the body guessing so it doesn’t know what’s coming and it feels challenged, this is the only way we see change. Plus one more, the favorite saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ well I hate to tell you its true!!! If you can get your eating under control and start to eat the right portions and totally clean you will see results much faster.

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Photo Credit: Eco Chic Cayman and Lori Speirs.

 

Parley For The Oceans: The Tide of Change

The majesty of the ocean is astounding. The ocean is perhaps the most important ecosystem on the planet. Home to thousands of marine species, and coral reefs. Consider the words of Captain Paul Watson, “If the oceans die, we die.” Or, Dr. Sylvia Earle, “No blue, no green.” Both sentiments resonate with the logic that the ocean is the very heart of our planet. Every second breath we take comes from the ocean—undoubtedly the ocean is our greatest life-support system.  Our survival is dependent upon healthy oceans.  Yet, we do not cherish the ocean with the dignity and respect is so deserves. Over the past few decades, we have treated the ocean as a bottomless trash can— 8 tons of plastic enters the ocean every year. The ocean was never designed nor intended to be a trash can. Now, we are waking up to the reality of the environmental impact our lifestyle of convenience has made and one of the biggest issues is the epidemic of plastic pollution in our oceans. Plastic pollution is disrupting the balance of the health of the ocean, endangering marine life, coral reefs and sea birds. Plastic is so entrenched in consumerism and our daily lives that it makes it difficult to break free from plastic completely. That being said, even if we start with small actions, like giving up single-use plastics a huge positive impact will come into fruition. Moreover, there is a call to action for companies to rethink the way products are made and packaged. The time is now, for a tide of change. Parley for the oceans is a driving force creating a wave of change, through raising awareness about environmental issues, initiating beach cleanups, promoting eco-innovation (as a future-forward step beyond sustainability) and ecologically sensible products. Parley has created a platform, encouraging creators, thinkers and leaders to come together for the common goal of raising awareness for our oceans and collaborating on projects that will create change, provide eco-innovative options and prevent further destruction of our fragile ecosystems.

Running Towards A Plastic-Free Ocean

It can start with something simple as a pair of sports shoes. A simple act to redesign the process of making a pair of running shoes into an eco-innovative product that can put into motion positive changes for the betterment of our oceans.  Parley and Adidas have teamed up to create sports shoes that are an ecologically sensible product made from Ocean Plastic®, Parley’s catalyst material created from upcycled plastic waste intercepted in marine environments and coastal communities.  A step in a better direction, this makes not only a statement that change is possible, but sparks inspiration. From that inspiration, starts a revolution of changing the way consumer products are designed and redesigning them in ways that champion progress and are less harmful to the environment. It is evident that there needs to be a harmonious shift whereby the world of consumers and our economy can merge with an ecologically sensible approach and practices. Manufactures have an opportunity to be proactive and join the movement to eradicate our reliance and use of single-use plastics and change the way an array of products are made and packaged. “Plastic is a design failure. We can only end the problem with a new material. In the meantime we save marine wildlife by cleaning up shorelines and ocean and cut into the production of new, virgin plastic through closed-loop recycling systems.” (Parley). With this in mind, Parley for the oceans is doing incredible work making positive strives and an impact by demonstrating that ecologically sensible products are the way forward. Consumers are embracing sustainable options being made available to them. This revolutionary method of producing sports shoes made from Parley Ocean Plastic is more than a positive change in the fashion industry, but what it represents.  “Creating a symbol for change, one made in an eco-innovative way, that can champion our message and AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign).” (Parley)  

Eco innovation is the way forward. Upcycling existing plastic pollution and transforming it into new material can revolutionize the way products are made, reduce plastic waste, and aid in the removal of plastic from the ocean and off beaches. Furthermore, it a simple solution to keeping plastic out of the ocean. It encourages us to focus on the concerning issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. Plastic does not go away. Even biodegradable plastics don’t fully go away, they breakdown into micro plastics which is a serious problem. Micro plastics pollute the ocean and can be mistaken as food and ingested by marine life. Plastic can be found everywhere, littering beaches, micro plastics floating at the surface of the ocean and larger pieces of plastic debris sunk on the bottom of the ocean. The task of removing the massive accumulation of plastic floating around our oceans is seemingly a daunting task. However, simple acts such beach cleanups and removing plastic from the ocean when we come across it can help make a difference. Furthermore, removing plastic from the beach and oceans then transforming that into a new materials to make sustainable, eco-innovative products is a means of taking the problem at hand and finding a positive solution.

A Powerful Team Making Waves: Adidas and Parley

Parley and Adidas have teamed up collaborating on sportswear and are making waves. Inspired by our oceans and using eco-innovation to work together on a project to keep plastic out of the oceans. Tackling marine plastic pollution by removing plastic from the ocean and cleaning up beaches to intercept plastic before it ends up in the ocean. The recycled plastic transforms into material to create sustainable sports shoes. Their collection includes UltraBoost Parley Shoes, UltraBoost X Parley Shoes and UltraBoost Uncaged Parley Shoes. Each shoe is made from 11 plastic bottles and recycled materials. Essentially, 95% of each sneaker is made Parley Ocean Plastic and the remaining 5% is made from recycled polyester. These sneakers are putting their best step forward, inspired by our oceans and designed to reduce plastic waste. The very heart of Parley A.I.R. calls to action to: Avoid plastic wherever possible. Intercept plastic waste. Redesign the plastic economy by rethinking the materials, methods and thinking behind it. (Parley)

A Call To Action: Take the Parley AIR Pledge

 

Click here, to take the pledge air.parley.tv  

Raising Awareness: Keep Our Beaches Clean

Resources

Parley for the Oceans

Parley and Adidas

Photo Credit: Lori Speirs 

Film Credits: “Raising Awareness: Keep Our Beaches Clean” “Ocean Plastic Pollution Awareness Video”

Film Footage: Lori Speirs, David Bowerman and Eco Divers Reef Foundation 

Protecting the Sharks of the Cayman Islands

Sharks play an integral role in protecting the balance of coral reef ecosystems and the marine environment.  Since April 2015, the National Conservation Law provides protection for sharks and rays in the Cayman Islands.  Provisions under the National Conservation Law effectively make Cayman Waters a sharks and rays sanctuary.  All shark species are protected in the entire Cayman Waters including, coastal and offshore.  This year marks the 3rd anniversary of protecting sharks and rays in the Cayman Islands.  Shark conservation efforts continue to remain a priority as sharks are an invaluable species to our island’s marine environment and coral reef ecosystems.  There are 8 species of sharks that can be regularly found in Cayman waters including: Great Hammerhead, Lemon Shark, Caribbean Reef Shark, Blacktip, Tiger Shark, Oceanic Whitetip, Silky Shark, and Nurse Stark.  Some species of sharks found in Cayman waters reside all year long inhabiting coastal waters.  Whereas, other species of sharks are pelagic and seasonally pass through Cayman while on migratory routes.  

The Cayman Islands is synonymous with marine tourism and famous for being one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, with over 365 dive sites.  Some of our most popular dive sites include: Eden Rock, Devil’s Grotto, US Kittiwake and Soto’s Wall.  Marine Conservation International and DOE reported that the added value of marine tourism of having sharks on the reefs for visitors to see is about US$54 million per year.  Thus, it is paramount that ocean conservation remains at the forefront.  In particular, marine protected areas play an integral role in protecting sharks and their prey as well as fragile coral reef ecosystems.  Marine Protected Areas have proven successful in providing fragile ecosystems the necessary time and ideal environmental conditions to allow coral reefs, sharks and fish populations to recover from fishing pressure, storm damage, diseases and other impacts.  A healthy population of sharks is crucial to maintaining the balance of life on coral reefs.  Furthermore, Marine Protected Areas help protect biodiversity which is key for flourishing ecosystems and an added benefit for marine tourism. 

Shark Conservation in the Cayman Islands

Conservation efforts are a collaboration between the Department of Environment (DOE) and Marine Conservation International supported by the White Tip Conservation Fund from CayBrew and include various complimentary research methods aiming to better our understanding of our local shark population and their behaviour.  Ongoing work includes: monitoring and study of local shark populations through Shark Conservation Cayman’s Sharklogger program, acoustic tagging of local sharks, and baited remote underwater video (BRUV) surveys.  The comprehensive measures and continued research provide researchers with a wide range of data to help them gain a better understanding of sharks in the Cayman Islands, including our local shark populations and their behaviour.  To share the knowledge about the important role sharks play in helping to maintain the health of our islands’ coral reef and marine ecosystem with our local community, Shark Conservation Cayman talks to students and children in schools upon request. 

Save Our Sharks

 

New shark protection signs are now installed on all public docks and boat ramps to remind the public that sharks are protected in the Cayman Islands as our waters provide a sanctuary for all shark species. 

It is such privilege to see sharks in their natural habitat.  Sharks are one of the most misunderstood marine animals, and unfortunately their reputation has greatly been tarnished by negative portrayals of these majestic creatures.  Hence, an important element of shark conservation efforts in the Cayman Islands is raising awareness about the important role sharks play in maintaining a healthy marine environment and sharing knowledge about sharks as a means to encourage a positive attitude and perception of sharks.  Sharks are to be respected not feared.  

 If you do happen to see a shark whilst diving and/or snorkelling in the Cayman Islands, contact Shark Conservation Cayman to add your shark sighting to the extensive database of shark records.  Shark populations in the Cayman Islands are relatively fragile and numbers are small.  Thus, making the reporting of shark sightings and adding to Shark Conservation Cayman’s database is vital to maintain accurate assessments of shark populations in Cayman waters.  If you are a passionate local diver, snorkeler or diving centre join the Sharklogger network! Local divers help with the monitoring of our local shark population by sharing their dive logs.  The dive and shark information is highly beneficial and complements ongoing research of our local sharks. 

Support Shark Conservation in the Cayman Islands

Stay connected and up-to-date with ongoing shark conservation efforts in the   

Cayman Islands with Shark Conservation Team Cayman.

Follow on Facebook @sharkconservationcayman 

Instagram @sharkconservationteamcayman

Donate towards shark conservation efforts in Cayman 

Join the Sharklogger network and get more information, email sharkloggers@gmail.com 

 

Photo Credits: Ellen Cuylaerts

SIPP: Byron Bay Sustainable Coffee

Coffee lovers, your morning coffee just got a whole lot better! Good friends Dylan Garft & Luke Zocchi are founders of Byron Bay’s very own SIPP, Instant Coffee, a game changer in the world of coffee.  SIPP offers affordable sustainable gourmet coffee.  SIPP’s ethos is focused on evolving and refining the way coffee is produced on the market, with the betterment of the planet in mind.  As a means of reducing their environmental impact, no plastic is used in their packaging.  SIPP uses 100% compostable packaging made from plant based materials, predominately from the Eucalyptus tree.  The compostable packaging is Vincotte certified, this means “it biodegrades to its natural components within 26 weeks, leaving only safe compost with which to nourish the next seasons planting” (SIPP).  As part of their sustainable practice for every tree used, another tree is planted in its place.  Furthermore, SIPP avoids the manufacturing of unsustainable coffee home pods all together.  Reason being, in Australia alone an estimated 3 million are used per day.  A focus on a sustainable future for our planet is always at the forefront, and there in lies their commitment to reducing our global impact on the planet and raising awareness about environmental issues.  As a means to contribute to the betterment of the environment, $1 from every bag of SIPP coffee sold goes directly towards “organisations dedicated to making our planet more sustainable for the generations to come”(SIPP).  They are proud partners with Take 3, a clean beach initiative to help reduce global plastic pollution.  SIPP is an advocate for raising awareness about prevalent environmental issues such as plastic pollution, global warming and deforestation.  

 

Enjoy Your Coffee, One SIPP At A Time

SIPP has revolutionised coffee not only from a sustainable standpoint, but by introducing a gourmet cup of coffee packed with organic ingredients and probiotics.  Their coffee is brewed with organic grains that are nutrient-rich complex carbohydrates.  This works to help prevent a “sugar crash” and extends your performance level.  The integration of probiotics is to enhance your health overall.  Last, but not least, the all mighty coconut creamer that is packed with essential vitamins and secures that perfect cup of coffee full of flavour.  Bonus, this means their delicious coffee is dairy free.  

SIPP Signature Coffee Flavours include: Coconut Coffee, and Coconut Coffee- Double Shot.  

SIPP Signature Tea Flavours include: Coconut Chai Latte and Coconut Green Tea Matcha

Prices for coffee and tea range from AUS$24.95-$29,95

Shop SIPP Coffee, click here

Q&A with SIPP Founder Dylan Garft 

1. What inspired you to create SIPP?

Luke and I decided to start Sipp out of frustration for the amount of money we spent buying coffee ($70+ per week easy) but most importantly, we wanted to change the way people consumed coffee. I used to have a Nespresso machine and stopped using it the day I realised how much I was contributing to Australia’s waste issues. 3 millions capsules per day are sent to land fill. 

2. How does your coffee differ from others? 

Firstly, in our coffee we use a coconut creamer! This is a fantastic way to remove any dairy but giving it a beautiful coconut creamy flavour. Secondly, we wanted it to be easy to travel with so its instant. Most people don’t associate instant coffee with good coffee, until now! Ha. Thirdly, we wanted to give our coffee another dimension and we achieved this by turning into a function beverage – We use a very special micro encapsulated probiotic that only activates once it hits your stomach acid, meaning your body receive the maximum effect from it! 

3. How have your incorporated sustainability into your business model?

This was a very important aspect for us. Our packaging is 100% home compostable. A lot of brands claim to have “sustainable” packaging however, to achieve that sustainability, the package needs to be sent to special industrial composting plants to break down. Ours on the other hand will break down to nothing over 26 weeks. Even after about 12 weeks, you would be hard pressed finding the remains if you dug it up. And don’t worry, the decomposition only kicks off once it is underground, with moisture and warmth.

4. $1 from every purchase goes towards helping the planet.  With this is in mind, what environmental issues do you find most concerning? 

Both myself and my business partner Luke have surfed our whole lives, we live in Byron Bay (Most easterly point in Australia) and see the beauty the ocean has to offer. Keeping our oceans clean is very important to us, and that is why we have partnered with Take 3 to help raise awareness about plastic pollution. They are doing a fantastic job in education youth as well as proactively cleaning up our oceans. 

5. If you had to pick one, which flavour of SIPP coffee is your favourite? 

That is hard, on a day to day basis I would lean towards the Coconut Coffee – Double Shot. It has 270mg of caffeine per serve and having an 11 week old daughter and new business calls for extra energy! Ha 

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