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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 

Beauty With A Purpose: Protecting The Environment

Miss World Cayman Islands founder Pamela Ebanks-Small, is proud to announce that Miss World Cayman Islands will be using their pageant as a platform to raise awareness for environmental issues and conservation in the Cayman Islands.  The heart of the international Miss World pageant is ‘Beauty with a Purpose.’  This is a major component for contestants, who are encouraged to bring attention to causes that are important to them.  The theme of the environment stems from the growing awareness of environmental issues our island faces, and the importance of educating both the youth and our local community of the invaluable natural resources our island is blessed with.  For instance, Cayman’s Blue Iguanas, our precious marine ecosystems and coral reefs.  Keeping with their focus on the environment, Miss World Cayman Islands is taking measures to make the night of the pageant a sustainable event as much as possible.  Join them on 8th September 2018, to see this come to life. 

Behind the Scenes: Miss World Cayman Islands

Wondering what to expect? Topical environmental issues that are under consideration for the Beauty with a Purpose segment include: protecting coral reefs, sharks, and plastic ocean pollution.  Each contestant will focus on a different environmental topic.  They will undergo researching the topic and then present on what they have learned.  The heart of Beauty with a Purpose is to teach each contestant that they each have the capability to make a positive impact within their local community and abroad by being a voice for a cause that is important to them.  

Take the Stage at Miss World Cayman Islands 

Miss World Cayman Islands is seeking contestants.  To learn more about Miss World Cayman Islands and to register as a contestant please email: info@missworldcayman.com  Or visit their website to download an application form at www.missworldcayman.com 

Stay in the loop of all things Miss World Cayman Islands by following them on Instagram 

5 Ways You Can Make An Impact On Earth Day

Earth Day is just around the corner.  It is the perfect time to take on a green challenge to commit to simple actions that will make a positive impact.  It is easy to become discouraged if we cannot directly see the impact we are making.  At the end of the day we all want to contribute to the betterment of our environment and make a difference.  Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where to begin and to stay motivated.  Truth is, start anywhere and even if you choose just one simple action that betters the environment and stay dedicated, it will make a difference.  Start small and go from there.  Encourage your friends and family to join you in your green challenge.  Whether it is ditching plastic water bottles and having a reusable bottle with you while you are on the go.  Or, you choose to start shopping at the local farmers market.  Having others to be accountable to will help keep you on track.  It can also inspire others to follow your example.  

Earth Day Green Challenge

1.  Break free from single-use plastics.  Say goodbye to plastic straws, disposable cutlery, one-  time use coffee cups, plastic water bottles and plastic bags.  Switch over to reusable alternatives.  It might take a little time to adjust to remembering to use and/or bring your reusable items but it is so worth it.

2.  Have a zero waste day.  It will definitely be a bit of a challenge, but a good one.  For 24 hours, go without having any waste.  That means no food waste.  If you have any leftovers, be sure to eat them the next day. Compost anything applicable.  No using single-use plastics.  If you are eating out be sure when you order your drink to request no straw.  If you find yourself shopping ask yourself if the packaging and/or the items you are buying can be recycled, reused or repurposed.  

3.  Start a compost.  Scraps of your fruits and veggies are best placed in a compost in your backyard rather than ending up in a landfill.  Making your own compost will have your garden thriving.  

4. Join a cleanup.  Whether it is on land, along the beach or a dive removing plastic from the ocean you will be making a direct impact.  Post the cleanup, recycle whatever you can.

5. Start a herb garden and/or vegetable garden.  If you aren’t that into gardening, then you can always opt to help support your local farmers market.  Local ingredients always taste better and last longer.  Supporting local farmers is great because you are supporting sustainability and the economy.

Photo Credit: Beach cleanup, Plastic Free Cayman

Ocean Guard: Protecting an Underwater Paradise

People protect what they love, it is that simple.  Many of us share an incredible love and respect for our oceans, coral reefs and marine life.  “Coral reefs are the largest living structure on the planet, and the only living structure to be visible from space” (IYOR).  Coral reefs have been in existence and evolved on earth over the past 200 to 300 million years. (IYOR)  Right now, coral reefs are more vulnerable than ever before.  Coral reefs are degrading because of arising changes in their natural environment and the disruption of the balance of the ocean.  The accumulation of stressors are having a profound effect upon coral reefs putting them in a precarious state.  Some of the major threats coral reefs face right now are: ocean acidification, coral bleaching, over-fishing, pollution, coral diseases, invasive species and coastal developments.  Coral reefs are disappearing at an unprecedented rate.  This results in the loss of precious ecosystems and habitats for marine life.  Coral reefs play an integral role in maintaining the balance of the ocean, ecosystems and healthy fish populations.  Everything is interconnected and if one component of the chain begins to falter it will impose repercussions.  Hence, it is important to prevent the disruption of the balance of coral reef ecosystems.  We cannot afford to lose coral reefs.      

Now more than ever, there is an urgency to increase the number of and/size of marine protected areas.  Marine protected areas have proven successful in the recovery of declining fish and populations and fragile coral reefs.  “On 14 December 2016 – Since April, an unprecedented 3.6 million square kilometres of ocean – an area larger than India – have been designated as marine protected areas (MPAs), meaning for the first time, more than 5% of the world’s oceans are now protected” (UN Environment).  This is a positive stride forward for ocean conservation and it is encouraging.  There is still so much more of the ocean that is in need of being protected.  As there continues to be an increase in marine protected areas, critical and fragile ecosystems will have an opportunity to recover.     

Snapshots of Paradise

Paradise is worth protecting.  That being said, for some of us, our paradise is the ocean.  A fundamental component of our underwater paradise is flourishing coral reefs with an abundance of marine life.  In the spirit of this year being declared the International Year of the Reef, we invite you to take the challenge to share on social media snapshots of your underwater paradise that is worth protecting.  Share your favourite snorkel and dive sites, epic encounters with stingrays, turtles, sharks and other marine life.  The goal is to simply use photography and film to raise awareness for our precious marine environment.  Start today and share photos of your underwater paradise, and of course on World Oceans Day.   We encourage ocean lovers around the world to share snapshots of their underwater paradise to bring attention to the important need to protect coral reefs and fragile ecosystems on a global scale.

Below are some suggested hashtags to spread the love for your underwater paradise and the treasures of the ocean:

#unworldoceansday

#underwaterparadise

#protectwhatyoulove

#paradiseisworthprotecting

#myparadise

#IYOR2018

#savethereefs

#oceanguard  

8 Ways you can directly help coral reefs

 

 

 

  1. Take part in a Coral Nursery Program.  In the Cayman Islands, Eco Divers Reef Foundation have an excellent program in place. To learn more, click here. 
  2. Wear ocean-friendly sunscreen.
  3. Respect marine life and coral reefs.
  4. Nominate Hope Spots to protect fragile and/or critical coral reefs and ecosystems.
  5. Share photos of coral reefs to raise awareness through social media. 
  6. Participate in beach cleanups and dives to remove plastic from the ocean and off the beaches. 
  7. Eat sustainably.
  8. Watch the documentary Chasing Coral

Resources:

International Year of the Reef 2018

UN Environment 

Photo Credits:

Ellen Cuylaerts

40 Seconds Odelberg

If you love exploring nature, wildlife encounters and discovering the treasures of the ocean, then get ready for an amazing new show with one of Sweden’s most respected conservationists, Joakim Odelberg.  As a conservationist, wildlife photographer, underwater filmmaker and TV host, Odelberg has a vast amount of incredible stories to share.  His devotion to conservation is admirable and inspiring.  The show is designed as a short format concept.  The idea is for Joakim Odelberg to answer one question about his experience as a conservationist within 40 seconds per episode.  The show creates a unique platform for viewers to connect with a respected conservationist to learn more about conservation.  Viewers also have access to an inside look into what life is like as a world explorer devoted to conservation.  Viewers can submit questions via email, or leave a comment on Mr. Odelberg’s Instagram page.  The show can be watched by subscribing to Mr. Odelberg’s Youtube channel.  Joakim Odelberg developed the show with Annica Lindeberg and Purple Stockholm.  Emma Watson will be a producer for the show. 

To submit questions for the show, please email: info@joakimodelberg.se

 

Photo & Film Credit: Joakim Odelberg

The Brooklyn Pizza & Pasta: Urban Dining

As a bit of a foodie, I love finding great restaurants.  One of my favourite places to eat at is The Brooklyn Pizza & Pasta, located at Camana Bay.  It is the ultimate urban dining experience in the Cayman Islands. I love pizza just as much as anyone.  They have an incredible selection of various pizza options.  As someone with food allergies (gluten, dairy and soy) I was delighted to find that The Brooklyn caters to food allergies. So, if you have food allergies like me, don’t worry you don’t have to miss out on their delicious pizza.  

The Brooklyn is more than just pizza, it is an excellent place to dine offering a tasty selection of Italian-inspired and American favourites infused with local ingredients straight from the local farmers market.  As the name suggests, the atmosphere is the epitome of Brooklyn, New York with a warm urban setting and hip industrial inspired decor.  Highlights include the marquee Brooklyn sign, and the trendy bar with chic chandeliers—making it an Instagram worthy dining location.  On a lovely summer day, you can dine outdoors taking in the waterfront view.  Their outdoor patio is an excellent place to have a glass of wine mid-afternoon.  

  

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Local Artist Kaitlyn Elphinstone: Highlighting the Fragility of our Oceans

Local artist and environmentalist Kaitlyn Elphinstone is using her art as a platform to raise ocean awareness and start a discussion about environmental issues.  Some of the important environmental topics Kaitlyn’s artwork touches on are: the importance of coral, the disappearance of our coastlines, and plastic waste polluting our oceans.  Her unique artistic style is a beautiful merge between a range of mediums and her love for the ocean.  Kaitlyn uses her artwork as a powerful tool to communicate the strong connection we have to our environment and the impact we have on the planet.  Bold visuals with an elegant aesthetic, draws viewers into the beauty of her work.  As well as, to the underlying message that has been intricately interwoven into her artwork.  For instance, her piece ‘Woven Sea Fan and Plastic Bag’ beautifully articulates the growing issue of plastic invading the ocean and disrupting sea life.  The juxtaposition between a fragile sea fan and a plastic bag, serves as a reminder that the ocean’s ecosystems are fragile and the delicate balance can easily be disrupted by something as simple as the intrusion of a plastic bag.  Kaitlyn cleverly uses plastic in this piece of art to mimic the environment, commenting on the escalating issue of plastic taking over the ocean. This thought provoking piece begs us to examine our culture of consumerism and the environmental cost and impact we face.  It is said, that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Furthermore, plastic is said to be a stressor for coral reefs resulting in an increase of disease rates in various types of coral.  These concerning issues our oceans are facing circles back to the heart of Kaitlyn’s artwork, highlighting the fragility of our oceans and the importance of not allowing these issues to remain out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but to bring the reality of the situation to the forefront.  Calling for enacting sustainable solutions and practices.  It is vital that preservation of our coral reefs, sustainable practices and recycling becomes a priority.

Q&A with Kaitlyn Elphinstone

1. What inspired you to become an artist?

My Mother, Kathryn Elphinstone who’s also an artist and arts educator, made sure that my siblings and I grew up with access to a “craft cupboard” which had colouring materials, string, paper, beads, glue, paint, Popsicle sticks, all sorts of items to make things with. This freedom to be able to create without restrictions has definitely played a part in my development as an artist. I’ve had an art project on-the-go for as long as I can remember.

2. How would you describe your artistic style?

I’ve always loved working with materials, as you can see from my work. I use a range of mediums from photography to plastics to produce visual images that explore various environmental concepts and themes. I like to think of my work as contemporary in style – my style has many variations, I favour bold starkness, and I have no problems swinging from one extreme to the other on the color scale, although I really do love my ocean inspired blues.

3. What is the driving force of inspiration for your pieces which relate to the environment?

Our relationship with the environment is incredibly complex and can be difficult to articulate. Visual art plays an important role by offering a platform for discussion and can be a powerful tool to communicate what might be very difficult to put into words.

I think we have a pretty serious gap in recognising our connection to our natural environment. My work acts as reminder that wherever we are and whatever we do, we’re impacting the environment in ways we can barely imagine. We’re constantly trying to contain, organise, mange, and place value on our environments. That separateness we feel from natural environment scares me and I feel driven to talk about it through my work.

At the end of the day I want my work to have meaning, as well as be aesthetically pleasing. While design, texture, shape and form are important, if someone can look at my work and be impressed by its beauty and at the same time be moved by the underlying message that I am trying to convey then I feel I’ve been successful.

4. What do you find most interesting about exploring humanity’s relationship with the natural environment?

I’m always learning and discovering. For instance, while I was working on Crystal Beach Rock for the National Gallery’s exhibition Upon the Seas, I had never spent so much time looking at the patterns in coral. I mean, really looking. I placed thousands of Swarovski crystals into the patters of coral rocks to talk about the value we place on our coastlines and the disappearance of our coastal environments due to development and coral bleaching caused by global warming. I always knew there were different patterns but I never really knew there were, what seams like, endless variations. While visiting the ROM in Toronto this summer I spotted a coral display amongst the fossils and was amazed to see how slowly corals have evolved. Specimens from 12 million years ago looked like they had just washed up on the beach weeks ago – and now, how quickly corals reefs are disappearing.

5. Is there a quote or message you would like to share about the environment?

That’s easy – respect it. Not just when you’re out in the elements going for a hike or enjoying a day at the beach. There’s so much we can do as individuals in our day-to-day lives to show our respect for our environment.

6. Your pieces ‘Woven Sea Fan and Plastic Bag’, what story did you want to tell? And, what was the inspiration behind the piece?

Sadly, plastic debris in our oceans is a great problem for everyone. Using a sea fan and plastic grocery bags, I wove strips of plastic into the delicate coral structure imitating natural shapes and patterns. The plastic, mimicking the environment that it has invaded, sends a message about consumption while depicting a new form of colonization by consumerism. I wanted the work to raise ethical questions, trigger conversations concerning the preservation of our environment, and perhaps even inspire sustainable solutions.

7. Your piece ‘Traces’, what does that piece mean to you and what story did you want to tell? And, what inspired the piece?

Similar to Wove Sea Fan, Traces commented on discarded objects and manufactured goods. The work was constructed out of cables, discarded cords, speakers and a TV screen which held together bamboo branches as if it were a makeshift life raft. Created for the exhibition, The Art of Assemblage at the National Gallery the interactive work tied together a mishmash of found objects and debris to tell a story of the remnants we leave behind and possible “life raft” we will need to navigate the future. The wall installation included a sound element interviewing members of the public about objects they had discovered on the beach, a lot of which were… can you guess?

Photo Credit:

Kaitlyn Elphinstone