Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mermaid Sighted on the Kittiwake Shipwreck

It was one of those really amazing dives when it seemed  that almost anything could happen on the Kittiwake, but all we saw was this mermaid hanging out in the pilothouse.  Other than this and the big Black Grouper I had photographed earlier, there really wasn't much else worth working for.  So I snapped one of the mermaid and called it a day.  It made an amazing image from a great first effort with Kimberly Parker.  Click to see larger!

Christian Heritage Monument Groundbreaking

Tonight the Honorable Premier of the Cayman Islands, McKeeva Bush led a devotion and groundbreaking at the George Town site of the future Christian Heritage Monument.  A number of church leaders led prayers in honor and glory to God, while the FBC choir led voices in praise.  Thank you Lord!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kittiwake Black Grouper

I went back to the Kittiwake yesterday looking for the Goliath Grouper that has been sighted off-and-on over the past three weeks... and found a large Black Grouper instead!  No mistake, this is a different and also very large fish.  It was admiring itself in the mirrors of the lavatory, just as several other fish have done. 

Because large groupers like this have become so rare in Grand Cayman and they are immeasurably valuable in real tourism dollars, it would behoove us to guard them jealously if they should move in permanently.  Poaching inside the marine park in the 80's stole the biggest attractions for diving tourism that we had at that time.  "Sweetlips", the Goliath Grouper on the Oro Verde shipwreck, and the stars of Waldo's Reef: Waldo, Waldine, Wilber, Wilma, Stubby, Blackie, Benji and Snaggletooth, were all poached by a  spearfisherman and a fisherman.  Two selfish men took the crown jewels of Grand Cayman... gems worth untold $millions$ in diving tourism had they been left alone.  Big stars like these attract professional photographers, who get published, which brings more divers.  That's how it works!  No photo ops, no free publicity, fewer divers.  Law enforcement assigned specifically to the Kittwake would be a smart move if these fish appear to make permanent residence.  It would be cheap insurance for the potential economic returns.  These few big fish are like real-life unicorns, they've become so rare In Grand Cayman now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kittwake Night Dive

Jeff and Toni, staff divers from Divetech were excellent slaves (strobe slaves) for a full moon night dive tonight on the Kittiwake shipwreck in Grand Cayman.  It was a gorgeous night... calm and clear.  A barracuda, eagle ray and school of horse eye jacks shyly greeted us as we dropped in on the stern.  Click on images to see larger.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kittiwake underwater photos, first day of diving

I made my first dive on the Kittiwake with the media group yesterday.  I was exited to shoot her fresh and will be excited every time I return to document the changes that will occur.  She is now open to the public and the fish have already begun to investigate.  This was just the day after sinking and already I saw two barracudas, some bar jacks, a big school of horse eye jacks and a stingray.  There is some prime, brand new real estate on Seven Mile Beach and it's free for the taking.  It is going to be fun to observe who moves in and when as the years progress.  This is THE perfect home for big fish such as groupers, snappers and jewfish (goliath grouper).  Each new fish on the wreck will have a very real monetary value to Cayman's dive tourism.  If we could hire them to work on the wreck we would, but we'll have to be patient and wait for nature to take it's course.  Once they do move in, we should protect them like the National Treasures that they are.  Sweetlips, the Goliath Grouper who lived on the Oro Verde for about three years, greeting divers to see if handouts had been brought was speared illegally.  Such laws need enforcement to back them up.  That single fish could have brought millions of dive tourism dollars to Cayman all by itself.  That species is not only very rare now, but also normally too shy to approach for a photo.  It was a huge thrill to hand feed that gentle giant and every professional underwater photographer who had heard about it yearned to come to Cayman to photograph it.  And so in memory of Sweetlips and the hope of another such amazing animal for the Kittiwake I include a shot of her at the end of this sequence of images.  I may find out now who doesn't read my captions if someone thinks I saw a Goliath Grouper yesterday.   ; ))

Most of the ship can safely be dived without special equipment except the lowest stern-most space, which Jay Easterbrook tells me will make a good tech dive.   Light can be seen from about every other space, but you will still need a flashlight and ample air in your tank to safely enter much of it.  There are plenty of little projections to bump into, so proceed with caution and a good sense of spacial awareness.  If you are famously klutzy it might be wise to stay outside or in the big spaces.

Click images to see larger and go back in my archives to see aerials of the Kittiwake sinking, arriving in Cayman and her interior spaces while she was still dry.

Pool's open!  This is Sweetlips, our once cherished Goliath mascot of the Oro Verde in the mid-80's

Sinking of the 250' long Kittiwake, Grand Cayman 5 January, 2011