October 24, 2020

Camana Bay welcomes Poof the Blue Dragon

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Camana Bay recently welcomed a friendly new face to its Town Centre – Poof the Blue Dragon, who has found a sunny, sandy home on The Island in The Harbour where he welcomes visitors and loves to pose for photos.

Poof is one of fifteen larger than life sculptures inspired by the impressive form of the Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi). Created by the National Gallery and National Trust of the Cayman Islands, the Blue Dragon Trail is an outdoor exhibit that mixes the arts and the environment in an effort to raise awareness for this endemic species. Fifteen local artists were commissioned to paint the sculptures in colours and themes limited only by their own imaginations.

In 2004, they were “released” throughout Grand Cayman to become a bright and permanent reminder of an ancient treasure of Cayman’s natural heritage. Poof the Blue Dragon was originally located on the Cayman International School campus at the south end of the Camana Bay property. He sustained some damage during Hurricane Ivan in September 2004—as did many of the other sculptures—and was returned to the National Gallery for repairs and a fresh coat of paint.

“Poof is the first of the Blue Dragons to be fully restored and we are delighted that he has found such a wonderful permanent home on The Island at Camana Bay,” says National Gallery Director, Natalie Urquhart. “We look forward to launching a revised trail map in the near future so that visitors and residents alike can visit Poof and his cousins and learn more about the plight of our endangered Blue Iguana.”

Karie Bounds, Camana Bay Cultural Programme Coordinator, is excited to have the sculpture as a new cultural attraction in the Camana Bay Town Centre. “We are always looking for interesting ways to incorporate different aspects of Caymanian culture into the Camana Bay experience. Not only does the Blue Dragon Trail showcase the depth of talent within the local art community, but it also sheds light on the severity of the Blue Iguana’s situation. Camana Bay is pleased to be a part of this truly unique exhibit and will continue to support the cultural initiatives of both the National Gallery and the National Trust.” Poof was painted by local artist Wray Banker. When designing and naming the sculpture Wray was inspired by the dangers that the Blue Iguana faces. “Poof is a play on extinction. The authentic life preserver and animated words such as ‘bark’ and ‘meow’ all point out the different ways that the species is threatened. Areas of green comment on the problems raised by the invasive Green Iguana that is rapidly replacing the indigenous Blue and giving the false impression that Cayman’s iguanas are flourishing.”

True to the spirit of community giving that is shared by the entire Camana Bay family, Poof was sponsored by Leslie Bergstrom, owner of The Cabana at Camana Bay. With three children of her own, Leslie believes the Blue Dragon Trail will inspire young people to get involved in Cayman’s conservation movement. “These whimsical sculptures spark immediate interest and are a wonderful way to introduce the Blue Iguana to children who are naturally fascinated by this majestic creature and always eager to help. It is essential that we communicate the importance of conservation to our children from an early age.”

The Blue Iguana is a giant, dragon-like blue lizard which grows to over 5 feet long and can live as long as humans. Originally a denizen of Grand Cayman’s coastal areas and interior dry shrub lands, this magnificent reptile was driven to the brink of extinction, with only a dozen surviving from the original wild population by 2002. The main causes of this catastrophic decline range from habitat destruction and road kills, to deaths caused by free-roaming dogs and feral cats.

Although these human-caused pressures have led to the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana being the most endangered iguana on earth, the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme is making remarkable strides, creating great hope for the future of the Blue Iguana and its extraordinary wild habitat. Learn more about Poof and his Blue Dragon Trail friends at http://blueiguana.ky/bluedragon/index.htm .

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