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Crookedfinger Art: Sustainable Fashion & Art


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.


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.



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.


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 



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.


Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts


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.


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.



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.



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


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 (, 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 (, a leading scientific research centre in the Caribbean focusing on coral reef restoration, research on coral resilience, and ocean education.

More About Michael  

Website   (Currently Under Construction)

Check out some of his recent Arctic Work:


Q & A with Award-winning Filmmaker Michael Maes


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            :

Epiphany on iTunes :

Trailer Epiphany                     :

Special Thanks

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

ian somerhalder with dogs

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


Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Meet Ozzy


Photo Credit: Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Meet Twinkle Toes


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.  


Photo Credit: Ellen Cuylaerts


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

Protecting the Biggest Fish in the Sea with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

Personally, whale sharks are my absolute favorite shark species.  It is an incredible privilege to see them in all their glory in the wild.  For some of us, the opportunity to swim with a whale shark is once in a lifetime.  They are fascinating and docile creatures.  They reach an impressive size, up to 14 meters making them the largest fish in the ocean.  Whale sharks are considered to be gentle giants of the sea.  Their mesmerizing distinctive pattern is thought to aid camouflaging in their environment and is a unique, identifying mark like human fingerprints.  There is still so much to learn about Whale Sharks.  On that note, today we are featuring Ocean Conservationist Louisa Gibson from Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to learn more about their team’s research studying the behaviors of Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  

About Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Whale Shark Research

Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Guy Harvey Research Institute have partnered with a research group in Isla Mujeres, Mexico called Ch’ooj Ajauil to tag whale sharks with SPOT (smart position or temperature) tags. This type of tag allows us to track the animals in near real time by sending a satellite ping when the dorsal fin breaks the surface. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea, and inhabit tropical and temperate waters around the world traveling huge distances. Between May and August every year, hundreds of whale sharks aggregate off of the Yucatan Peninsula in response to a species of tuna spawning in the deep sea. This is the largest known aggregation in the world; it attracts thousands of tourists every year to experience swimming with the sharks, and is the perfect opportunity for us to gather scientific data on the species. Once the sharks leave this aggregation, we have no idea where they travel to and why. If we can learn more about their migrations, we can protect them from threats such as ship strikes and commercial fishers. We also aim to identify their key habitats, such as breeding grounds and nursery sites.

Q&A With Ocean Conservationist Louisa Gibson


How would you describe your experience swimming with Whale Sharks?

If it isn’t on your bucket list, I highly recommend adding it towards the top, right now. The experience is surreal, its magical! You jump in and have to move fast, because their movements are misleading. It looks like they are swimming slowly but their massive tails propel them through the water quite quickly. They aren’t bothered by having people swimming alongside them, as long as you don’t touch them. If you are lucky enough to witness a “botella,” which is when the shark floats vertically as it gulps in gallons of water to feed on concentrations of fish eggs and plankton at the surface, you suddenly share the trans-like state that the shark is in. You feel so small in the vast ocean, next to this giant graceful animal. It’s really quite a moving experience and it makes you appreciate how incredible our ocean is.

 What was the aim for your Whale Shark research?

GHOF, GHRI and Ch’ooj Ajauil aim to learn about the whale sharks migrations to identify key habitats and behavior in regards to breeding, feeding and traveling in order to protect them in the open ocean. Very little is known about the whale sharks reproductive behavior, and where they breed and give birth is currently a  mystery. So far 10 whale sharks have been tagged, 4 of which were tagged last year and all travelled in different directions only to return to Isla Mujeres a year later. Others,  tagged this year are still enjoying the rich waters off the Yucatan Peninsula as we speak. The more animals we tag, the more likely we will be able to identify patterns in behavior between males and females, adults and juveniles. To follow our tagged sharks visit, or to contribute to this research visit


What do you find most fascinating about Whale Sharks?

There are so many fascinating things about whale sharks! They are the largest fish in the sea, however feed on the smallest (eggs, plankton, small fish). The white patterns on their dorsal surface are all totally unique, like our finger prints, and can be used to identify individuals. They are from the order Orectolobiformes, otherwise known as “carpet sharks” which typically live near the bottom of the sea, yet whale sharks also feed at the surface. Other examples of Orectolobiformes are the nurse shark and the wobbegong. Some whale sharks in the Caribbean region have an intrinsic pull to the Yucatan at the same time every year – how do they know?!


What do you think people would be interested to know about Whale Sharks?

They are filter feeders so technically don’t need teeth but they actually have rows of hundreds of tiny teeth, just like other sharks. Almost nothing is known about whale shark reproduction, however over 300 embryos were found inside a pregnant female in the 90s. The embryos were in all stages of development, and when 29 were genetically tested, all had the same father which could mean that this species can store sperm from one mating event and fertilize their own eggs later on. Incredible stuff!


Also, they are harmless sharks making them very fun to swim with.


Can you share a bit about GHOFs shark conservation efforts?

GHOF and GHRI focus on the research and conservation of a number of different shark species including the mako shark, tiger shark, oceanic whitetip, silky shark, and the whale shark which are studied predominantly out of Cayman Islands, Maryland and Mexico. Since the Guy Harvey Research Institute was established in 1999 we have reached some significant milestones in shark conservation. In 2006, scientists at GHRI identified that up to 73 million sharks per year are killed in the shark fin trade alone, sparking international concern about the plight of sharks. More recently GHRI discovered, through fisheries-independent data, that mako sharks are harvested 10 times more than previously thought when 30% of tagged sharks were killed. This led to emergency protections for the species in the NW Atlantic; and data from our shark research also influenced the complete protection of sharks in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.


Learn more about Whale Sharks

Check out Jessica Harvey’s Expedition Notebook series for bite-size learning about the whale shark and other cool species!


Louisa Gibson


Louisa Gibson

Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

Photo Credits

Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

A Day In The Life Of A Shark Conservationist: Ellen Cuylaerts

One of my personal heroes is Ellen Cuylaerts.  I have great admiration for Ellen’s ocean conservation efforts.  She is a true luminary.  Ellen faced her fears and learned how to dive and swim with sharks.  By embracing her fear, she gained a deeper love, respect, understanding, and appreciation for sharks.  It is her bravery, and curiosity to learn more about our ocean and sharks that teaches us we can all do great things if we stay true to ourselves and follow our passions.  Ellen’s tremendous love and dedication to shark conservation are evident in her underwater photography.  She uses her passion for photography to show sharks in their natural habitat.  Her photos not only capture incredible ocean moments and encounters with one of the world’s most fascinating creatures, but they tell a powerful story.  Sharks are incredibly misunderstood creatures, resulting in them often being feared.  Through her photography, Ellen strives to change the perception of sharks by reminding all of us that sharks are not to be feared, but respected.  They play a vital role in maintaining the balance of our oceans ecosystems.  Likewise, healthy shark populations are an indicator of healthy coral reefs.  The ocean has a delicate and intricate balance, and we need healthy shark populations to ensure the future of a healthy ocean.  We can all do our part to contribute to shark conservation and raising awareness about the importance of sharks.     

Q&A with Ellen Cuylaerts

1. What inspired you to be a shark and ocean conservationist?

I became an ocean conservationist because I was grateful for all the ocean is giving us; the calm just looking at the waves, the serenity being in water, the healing benefits of the ocean, the oxygen produced in it…and yet we hardly take care of her and all life in it. We take the ocean for granted, pollute it and damage all life. When I became a snorkeler and later diver and shared the ocean with my children, they reconnected me with nature and taught me lots about fish and sharks, marine mammals and creatures from the deep.  Sharks fascinated me but I had a healthy fear, I wanted to know all about their behavior before I would enter their proximity….but one of my first dives I was lucky and saw 3 sharks and they stayed close during the whole dive. What I experienced was no fear but an immense calm that came over me: these were magnificent creatures, misunderstood, not looking at us as if we were food but just observing us like we observed them.

I wanted to know more and read about the different species and different behavior and feeding patterns, already aware their numbers were dwindling due to the cruel act of finning and them being the victims of bycatch too. I wanted to take images of them the way I saw them, as not to fear but admire for the important role they play in our oceans as apex predators on top of the food chain, keeping the reefs healthy. My shark shots (of reef sharks, oceanics whitetip sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, blue sharks, nurse sharks, tresher sharks and hammerheads) are all with their mouth closed, peaceful and serene, showing the beauty and informing people why exactly they are so important.

2. What is your favorite species of shark?

Ahhh difficult question. I love them all, the skin, their ampullae of Lorenzini, their eyes, fins, tails: so different for every species and yet so alike. Maybe the tiger shark is my favorite because of its size, the stripes and the way it slowly and gracefully moves but then again, they all do. Maybe it’s easier to choose my favorite time in the water with sharks: that was on Ascension Island where  I spent hours and days in the water with juvenile and adult Galapagos sharks. The juveniles stayed close to a rock, boatswain Bird Island, a seabird breeding colony, waiting for chicks to fall in the water so they could feed on them. the water was crystal clear, jacks and black durgeons everywhere, the occasional visit of turtles and mahi-mahi…it was just paradise and heaven all together. Pure and wild!

3.  What was your first experience like swimming with a shark?

As mentioned it was on one of my first dives and it was a true eye-opener that they had a calming effect on me and they were not to fear as long as you know what to do and what not to do.  Sharks do NOT feed on people. Almost every shark incident can be explained as a shark mistaken a human for it’s usual prey.

4.  What can people do to help protect sharks?

Use your voice to protest against shark finning and killing of sharks. Shark numbers are decimated the last decades and almost all species are either vulnerable or threatened with extinction. 

Sharks get killed for their fins (to produce shark fin soup) for their skin, for the medicinal use of their cartilage, as bycatch in commercial fishing. Between and 70 million and 100 million sharks are killed every year, those are the estimates, could be lower, could be much higher.

Stop eating fish, for every fish we eat, the amount of bycatch is mind-blowing, we are depleting the oceans for our convenience without thinking, without conscience. 

5.  What do you love most about sharks?

I love them for keeping the oceans healthy and diving with them I absolutely love their predictable patterns and how well you can read the different characters once you spend more time with them.

6. What do you think is the biggest misconception about sharks?

That they are men eaters….they are NOT. I once did a shark feeding course to better understand them and to ’shark myself’ with the amazing Cristina Zenato. I had fish in a tube and was standing between 25-40 sharks and I’ve never been so calm.

7. What is the most interesting fact you know about sharks? 

It might not be the most interesting fact but it’s something not everyone realizes: sharks are more vulnerable to stress than we think. Even tagging sharks for research or catch and release sharks in sport fishing might have an increased lactic acid build up in the blood as a result and cause a delayed mortality. It’s not because the sharks swims away after the facts that it will live on. 

I read a lot of B..S of people pretending to protect sharks (but commercially sell tagging trips and even offer catch and release)…it’s sadly all about greed and ego! 

Wishing everyone a great shark week!


Photo Credits: Ellen Cuylaerts

Miss World Cayman Islands EnviroWalk: Walk For The Planet

“We recognize the privilege we have living in the Cayman Islands being surrounded by the serene beauty of our oceans and nature.  It is important to us that we work alongside our community to preserve our oceans and local wildlife.  We believe in doing our part to contribute to raising awareness about environmental issues impacting our island and conservation efforts.” – Laura Butz, Committee Head for Environment, Miss World Cayman Islands Committee. 

Miss World Cayman Islands (MWCI) is raising environmental awareness one step at a time.  On 30th June 2019, will be their first ever ‘EnviroWalk’ to raise awareness for the environment.  “We are very excited to host our first EnviroWalk/Run on June 30 and sincerely thank our sponsors of the Walk – Flowers and Jacques Scott. We hope to continue doing this event as a fundraiser for the Miss World CI pageant but more importantly to bring awareness to the public about what we can do to help our environment. We believe it is important to preserve what we have now so our kids and grandkids can enjoy the environment for many years to come.” – Pamela Ebanks-Small, Director of Miss World Cayman Islands.  The aim of the EnviroWalk is for MWCI to share their ongoing mission of “Beauty with a Purpose” with our local community.  The “Beauty with a Purpose” project promotes MWCI commitment to using their platform to raise awareness about local environmental issues and collaborate with local environmental non-profit organizations.  That said, funds raised from the EnviroWalk will go towards both Miss World Cayman Islands environmental projects and their pageant.  In addition, a donation will be made to a local environmental non-profit organization to aid them in their conservation efforts.  The local environmental non-profit organization that will be the beneficiary of a donation will be decided on the day of the walk.  Moreover, the walk will be an eco-friendly event as much as possible.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottle to refill at sponsored hydration stations courtesy of Flowers Bottled Water.  Highlights to look forward to at the event include a quick 10-minute warm-up session led by MWCI’s fitness sponsor F45 just before the 5K Walk/Run begins.  Miss World Cayman Islands winner Kelsie Bodden and the governor Martyn Roper will be leading the 5K Walk/Run.  They will both run the course as a friendly competition.  Throughout the course, participants can look out for eco-tips on signs to help educate the public on easy tips for living a sustainable lifestyle.    

Sign Up for the walk online at Cayman Active. 

Sign Up at these locations:

Saturday, 22 June: Fosters Strand 9:00am-2:00pm 

Monday, 24 June: Government Office Building 11:30am-1:30pm 

T-Shirt Distribution

Wednesday 26 June: Governors Square Board Room, 6:00pm-8:00pm

Saturday 29 June: Governors Square Board Room, 9:00am-12:00pm 

EnviroWalk 30th June: 7:00am at Safe Haven

Stay Connected

Stay connected with Miss World Cayman Islands on Instagram 

Miss World Cayman Islands EnviroWalk on Instagram: @envirowalkcayman 

Kelsie Bodden, Miss World Cayman Islands 2018 on Instagram

 Special Thank You

Miss World Cayman Islands would like to thank their sponsors for EnviroWalk 5K Walk/Run.

Event Sponsors

Jacques Scott Group Ltd.

Flowers Bottled Water


Raffle Prize Sponsors


Le Visage

Ride With Us Watersports




Kelsie Bodden, Miss World Cayman Islands: A Beauty With A Purpose

Kelsie Bodden is the current reigning Miss World Cayman Islands.  She is a true beauty with a purpose.  Kelsie has embarked on a journey that is inspiring to others.  She is proud to raise awareness about local environmental issues.  Since her return from competing in the Miss World Pageant 2018, held in China, Kelsie has been meeting with local environmental organizations to find out how she can contribute to educating the community about conservation and environmental issues.  Kelsie has participated in local beach cleanups with The Nation Trust of the Cayman Islands and Plastic Free Cayman.  She has taken Plastic Free Cayman’s 345 Pledge to reduce her use of single-use plastics.  Most recently, Kelsie volunteered with Eco Divers Reef Foundation to help with their coral nursery program.  As a means of raising awareness about environmental projects she is working on, Kelsie started her “Be Kind To The Environment” series on her blog.  Kelsie is looking forward to other environmental projects she will be working on later this year.  Stay tuned.    

Q&A with Kelsie Bodden: Looking Back On Her Trip To China

What was going through your mind when you were en route to China?

KB: When I left for China I was filled with mixed emotions! I was anxious, excited, for both the flight and competition. I knew I was about to represent Cayman and I wanted to do that the best that I could but still enjoy the experience.   

What was day one like?

KB: Day one was pretty chilled, I arrived in Sanya with other contestants and as we exited the airport the Miss World organization was there waiting which made being on the other side of the world in a country that doesn’t speak english much easier. 

As we got to the hotel our rooms were ready and we got to unpack, eat dinner and mingle with other girls. 

How were you able to share with others about your environmental platform?

KB: Prior to Miss World in China I made a short clip speaking about some the organizations that MWCI works with locally and some of my then future plans, such as my “Be Kind to the Environment” series on my blog and speaking with kids about little things they can do to help out. We often spoke about our platforms and I was able to share about mine and why it’s so important especially for Cayman and other Islands.  

What were your favorite eco-friendly items?

KB: Before I left for China I was sure to stock up on some eco-friendly must-haves such as my bamboo toothbrush, reusable water bottle/straws and a cute sustainably made swimsuit from Sage LaRock! 

Did you get time to do some sightseeing?

KB: We did! Many of our days were spent at rehearsals/filming but we did have days off to explore Sanya a bit. 

I was able to see a bit of Sanya and while I was there I did see beautiful beaches.  My favorite place was going to the night market where we got to try some of the street food in China.  There was this one ice cream that was very delicious!  We also got to see a park that was once a landfill. It was repurposed into a park where people can now go and ride their bikes, picnic, take runs and just take in the beautiful greenery of this new park. 


What lessons/tips did you learn from the other contestants?

KB: I  was able to learn a lot from my fellow contestants. We each shared information about our countries, culture and some other personal information like future aspirations. I think the best thing I learnt was that despite our being from different parts of the world, we all wanted to make a difference in our country and share our message to the world. 

How did it feel representing the Cayman Islands? What was your biggest takeaway from the whole experience?

KB: My biggest take away was how important it is to be 100% true to yourself. I was with 117 other women who were all different but not afraid to be themselves and that’s what made them all so beautiful. My favourite thing that Mrs. Julia Morley the Chairman of Miss World said was, “No two queens are alike” and that stuck with me through the competition and even now.  This is why my advice to my future successor would be to be unapologetically authentic to herself. I would like her to find her own passion and run with it because that is what makes a Miss World.  

What was your biggest struggle while being in the pageant?

KB: The food lol … there was nothing wrong with it but it did get a bit repetitive, but this was something we all bonded over. 

What advice would you give to girls thinking of entering Miss World Cayman Islands 2019 pageant? 

KB: I would say definitely do it!  You’ll learn so much about yourself, meet other girls, get exposed to loads of new things and experience something not many others get a chance to. 

Photo Credits: 

Miss World Cayman Islands

Kelsie Bodden

World Reading Day: 5 Inspiring Books You Should Be Reading

Happy World Reading Day!

As an avid reader, I love finding new books to read.  From time to time I share on my Instagram books that I am currently reading.  I am always looking through the latest online book club reading list to find out what is the latest must-read.  I must admit, I am a big fan of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine I can’t begin to tell you how many great reads I found from their reading list. Always eagerly anticipating each month’s new reveal.  My besties and I have our own little book club.  Basically, swapping books we think are worth a read and then donating them to a local book loft that supports our local Humane Society.  As much as I love general fiction or a good thriller, I like to branch out a little…  

Reading books that inspire me, help me grow, expand my perspective and encourage me to think more critically are always a treasure to find.  Books that encourage a conversation, critical thinking, examining the world around us and reflection can be powerful reads.  The selection of books listed below is a combination of books on my current reading list and some I have already read.  My hope is that these books will both empower and inspire you.  Happy Reading! 

1. Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life by Gisele Bündchen

“In this book, I’ve laid out the lessons that have helped me live a more conscious and joyful life, inspired me to overcome challenges I’ve faced over the years, and given me a deeper understanding of myself and the world. I hope they will help you, too.”-Gisele Bündchen

I read Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life by Gisele  December 2018.  It was my favorite read for the year.  It was one of those special moments when I read a book at the right time.  For me personally, I know I’ve read a really good book when I am sad to read the last page. I loved Lessons by Gisele! I could hardly put this book down—I read it in two nights.  I was engrossed by all the insightful and eye-opening lessons this book had to offer.  If you’re anything like me, there are some books you find yourself taking notes and highlighting passages.  This was definitely one of those books.  There is so much enlightenment each chapter has to offer that you want to absorb and reflect on later, so I definitely highlighted a plethora of passages on my iPad.  This book has made such a positive impact on me.  I didn’t realize how much I needed the words in this book until I read them— it was perfect timing.  This book was a beautiful way to end 2018.  Equally, it has been a wonderful start to 2019, as I find myself re-reading it and still finding myself positively impacted by this book.  

2. Whiskey in a Tea Cup by Reese Witherspoon

“My grandmother Dorothea always said that it was a combination of beauty and strength that made Southern women ‘whiskey in a teacup.’  We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.”-Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon has always been one of my personal heroes.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to read her book, Whiskey in a Tea Cup.  Thank you to my sister for getting me Whiskey in a Tea Cup for Christmas!  I read it that very night and finished it in one sitting.   It was a fun and enjoyable read.  I absolutely loved Reese’s tips on hosting dinner parties.  I love her grandmother’s Sweet Tea recipe!  There are recipes I still need to try out.  My favorite part of the book was simply what “Whiskey in a Tea Cup” represents.  The notion that you can be delicate yet strong.  This really resonated with me.  I think it applies to so many of us, the combination of beauty and strength.  The ability to always compose yourself with grace no matter the situation.  “Whiskey in a Tea Cup” serves as a source of strength and inspiration for me.  It reminds me that no matter what, you can handle anything that comes your way.  You are both strong and delicate.   

3. Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press

“Who makes your clothes? This used to be an easy question to answer: it was the seamstress next door, or the tailor on the high street – or you made them yourself. Today we rarely know the origins of the clothes hanging in our closets. The local shoemaker, dressmaker, and milliner are long gone, replaced by a globalized fashion industry worth $1.5 trillion a year.

In Wardrobe Crisis, fashion journalist Clare Press explores the history and ethics behind what we wear. Putting her insider status to good use, Press examines the entire fashion ecosystem, from sweatshops to haute couture, unearthing the roots of today’s buy-and-discard culture. She traces the origins of icons like Chanel, Dior, and Hermès; charts the rise and fall of the department store; and follows the thread that led us from Marie Antoinette to Carrie Bradshaw.” – 

This book is at the top of my must-read list for 2019! Clare Press is truly an inspiration.  She is making waves, drawing attention to the importance of sustainable fashion.  Clare Press is Australian VOGUE’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large and presenter of the Wardrobe Crisis podcast.  If you love fashion and enjoy listening to podcasts then you will quickly become a fan of her work!  For the last couple of years, I have been interested in learning as much as I can about sustainable fashion.  I am curious to learn more about the fashion industry, the story behind the making of our clothes, fashion icons, and the evolution of sustainable fashion.  Following Clare’s work on social media has opened my eyes to so much about the fashion industry.  I am thankful for her dedication to raising awareness about sustainable fashion.  

4. Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols

“I wish you water.” ― Wallace J. Nichols,

Love the ocean? Wait till you read Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols.  It was such a fascinating read!  Nichols discusses our deep connection to the ocean, to water and how that plays an important role in our lives.  Water is a powerful thing and a precious resource.  The book discusses research showing that water can have an incredibly positive impact on your mood, health, and wellbeing.  For me personally, I would agree that being near the water can have a profoundly positive effect on you.  I have always noticed that throughout my life I constantly gravitate towards the water.  I am always happiest in the ocean.  When traveling, I don’t like to be away from the water for too long.  Some of my favorite moments in life have been spent snorkeling or at the beach.  The wonderment of the ocean is something I will marvel at for life.  I never really thought about the relationship we have with water both on a cognitive and emotional level until reading Blue Mind.  After reading Blue Mind I have an even greater appreciation for our oceans.  For me, I think of the ocean as my sanctuary.  It is the one place where I feel most happy and a pure sense of calm.  The ocean has an incredible ability to wash away my worries, fears, and anxieties at that moment.  Time spent in the ocean is a time that my body can be rejuvenated and a sense of balance restored.   

Blue Mind is a book that will continue to fascinate me.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Wallace J Nichols give a keynote speech and to also interview him for a feature on my blog.  Click here to read the article. 

5. Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging by Brene Brown

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” -Brene Brown 

Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown was on Reese Witherspoon’s X Hello Sunshine Book Club reading list.  Naturally, I was intrigued and had to read it.  I was delighted when I found a copy at Ann Patchett’s bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee. (I could have stayed in that store for hours!)  This was a powerful book, with a lot of insightful quotes!  It was interesting to read her perspective about belonging.  What it means to belong and to be confident on your own.  I learned there is a bravery in being confident in your decisions and learning to stand alone in the wilderness so to speak.  This book started to change my perspective about life and the way we interact with one another.  It got me thinking about the way we communicate and perceive things.  It encouraged me to start reflecting more and examine the world around me.  

Happy World Reading Day, xo 

A Day in the Life of an Ocean Conservationist with GHOF’s Louisa Gibson

Louisa Gibson is a local ocean conservationist working at Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF).  Growing up in the Cayman Islands Louisa has great respect for marine life, coral reefs, and the ocean.  This great appreciation for the ocean has instilled in her a strong desire to protect it.  Her strong connection to the ocean inspired her to pursue a degree in Animal Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Protection and Management with a focus on marine systems.  Through working with the GHOF, Louisa has had incredible opportunities to dive all over the globe.  Notably, a trip to Mexico to swim with whale sharks.  While in Costa Rica, Louisa swam with spotted dolphins and pilot whales.  For many, this is an adventure of a lifetime, but for Louisa, it is just another day at the office.  

Interview with Louisa Gibson

1.  What is your role at the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation?

I am the Development Coordinator for the GHOF. My primary responsibility is to raise the funds necessary to support our research and educational initiatives here in the Cayman Islands. These funds are raised through corporate sponsorships, individual donations, and philanthropic giving, along with GHOF hosted events throughout the year. It is a difficult job and we are always grateful for additional support.

2.  What inspired you to become interested in ocean conservation?

I have an intrinsic love of nature. I really believe that I was put on this Earth to do what I am doing. Growing up I wanted to be a vet – whether it was small animals or exotics I wasn’t sure – but then when I moved away from Cayman to go to university, I realized how important just being in, on and around the ocean is for me. I wanted to protect it. So I did my undergraduate degree in Animal Biology and my masters in Environmental Protection and Management, focusing on marine systems.

3.  What has been your most memorable experience out in the field?

I have so many! I am so grateful for the experiences that Guy, and working for the Foundation has given me. I have been diving with Tiger sharks in the Bahamas; Whale Sharks in Mexico; Silky sharks, spotted dolphins, and pilot whales in Costa Rica; fishing in world-famous sport-fishing destinations including Tropic Star Lodge in Panama, and Isla Mujeres, Mexico; and I have been a part of educating thousands of people around the world from New York, to Florida, Bahamas, Cayman Islands and all over the Caribbean about the issues and importance of ocean conservation.

4.  What is a typical day like for you in the office and in the field?

I go to work just like everybody else – I answer emails, read documents and write marketing content. Some days I am lucky enough to spend my 8 hours on a boat, surrounded by blue. In the field, it can be exhausting. An example is during our biannual stingray census where we spend 3 days surveying the size and health of every Southern stingray that inhabits stingray city sandbar. There are approximately 100 of them and the majority weigh over 100lbs. It is hard work but extremely rewarding.

5. What is your favorite species of shark?

I think my favorite species of shark is the oceanic whitetip. Their populations have declined by up to 98% is some of their range, including the Caribbean, and so I always feel lucky to be able to interact with them in their natural environment. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation tags and tracks these sharks with the aim of learning about their migrations to protect their key habitats.

6.  Where is your favorite place to dive in the world?

We are so lucky to call the Cayman Islands home! Our waters are warm, calm, crystal clear and diverse – I would have to say right here in Cayman, closely followed by the Bahamas which not only has all of these qualities but they also have a healthy population of large predatory sharks.

7.  What is the biggest threat you see our oceans facing today?

The easy answer is pollution and overfishing. Ocean plastic, ghost nets, and nutrient run-off are devastating for our oceans globally. Overfishing and by-catch are causing ecosystems to become unbalanced cascading the effects down trophic levels and causing fish stocks to crash affecting global economies, not to mention small coastal communities.

The more complex answer is climate change. Sea temperature rise is causing corals to bleach and atmospheric carbon dioxide is being absorbed by the ocean causing ocean acidification and the truth is, we don’t fully understand the long-term consequences to the ecosystem as a whole.

All of these threats, in addition to natural phenomenon, invasive species, habitat loss, and other human pressures are making it very difficult for the ocean to be resilient and rapidly decreasing its health.

 8.  What is the biggest takeaway you have gained from your experience working with Dr. Guy Harvey?

Guy is a huge inspiration for me. He doesn’t tire easily, he gives 110% of his effort all of the time, and he has really shown me what a big difference one person with a mission can make. Jessica Harvey has inherited his love of all ocean creatures and his drive to change the world, and I feel privileged to work alongside her to achieve the goals of GHOF.

Anyone can make a difference just by making small changes to our daily lives, contributing a small amount of time or money to the cause, or by simply having impactful conversations.