January 31, 2023

Cayman SharKYfest

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SharKY Poster Competition ExhibitionIMG_7593The SharKYfest at Dive Tech, Lighthouse Point in West Bay was a huge success. The event was organised by the Department of Environment (DoE) and Marine Conservation International (MCI) to raise awareness for Cayman’s sharks, to promote shark conservation and to celebrate the first year that sharks are protected in the Cayman Islands under the National Conservation Law. SharKYfest continues the outreach work that has been part of the shark research programme run by the DoE and MCI since 2009, recognising the beneficial roles healthy shark populations play in Cayman’s waters.

On Saturday, families, fishermen, divers, and children came out to join a fun-filled afternoon. Shark-themed stalls by the DoE and MCI, Cayman Islands Tourism Association, National Trust and Guy Harvey Research Institute provided information on sharks and healthy reefs. The children’s shark-themed activities included a poster competition and live music by Trio Vivo

The Swanky Kitchen BandThe Swanky Kitchen Band (2)and the Swanky Kitchen Band had the fest dancing. Short talks by MCI’s shark researchers, the DOE, well-known marine photographer Ellen Cuylaerts and Ocean Frontier’s Stephen Broadbelt gave visitors different perspectives on sharks. Fest-goers had the chance to chat one on one with shark scientists, which helped to explode myths about sharks. Visitors enjoyed the finger food by VIVO, ice creams by Gelato & Co., shark-cupcakes made by

SharKYfest bannerDr Mauvis GoreCayman Prep School students, all washed down with SharKY punches for children and adults, provided by the Cayman Islands Spirits Company. The world’s first shark conservation beer, White Tip, was developed by the DoE, MCI and Cayman Islands Brewery and given away free to adults along with Red Bull, all courtesy of the Cayman Islands Brewery. The festive atmosphere provided a good opportunity for people to share their love of the sea with each other and learn from each other about the wonder of sharks and why they are so important to Cayman’s marine environment.

SharKY Poster Competition Exhibition (2)sharKY cupcakesVisitors had the chance to immerse themselves in the amazing exhibition of shark images by Ellen Cuylaerts, several of which are being auctioned online to raise funds for shark research https://www.facebook.com/events/1778194145737858/?active_tab=posts. People were fascinated by a short MCI film on what it is like to go out and study sharks. In the late afternoon, the winners of the SharKY poster competition received their prizes which were sponsored by Cathy Church, Dart, Cayman Islands Helicopter, the Equestrian Centre, Cayman Crystal Caves, Atlantis Submarine, Cayman Creperie and DiveTech.

For more information about sharks in Cayman, visit www.doe.ky and www.marineconservationinternational.org. For updates on the Top Marine Predator Project and the Citizen Science Programme visit and like the Facebook page “Shark & Cetaceans: The Cayman Islands” and follow @MCI_Cayman on Twitter. And remember to

#SpotThatCayFish for your photos of sharks and other fish. Fishermen, snorkelers and divers can report sightings, with pictures, of sharks and large snappers (especially if they are tagged) by uploading them to Facebook or Twitter and tagging them with their name, where and when they saw the fish, and #SpotThatCayFish.

NOTES

Darwin Plus: www.gov.uk/government/groups/the-darwin-initiative

The Darwin Initiative is a UK government grants scheme that helps to protect biodiversity and the natural environment in developing countries and UK Overseas Territories (OTs). Darwin-funded projects usually aim to help preserve biodiversity and the local community that lives alongside it. The Darwin Plus is awarded for work in the Overseas Territories.

 

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment: www.doe.ky

DoE is responsible for the management and conservation of the natural environment and resources of the Cayman Islands, including the management of the Marine Parks system. In carrying out its remit, the department liaises with government, private-sector and civic stakeholders. The DoE works collaboratively with several academic and research institutions around the world and has been the beneficiary of five Darwin Awards, including this one.

 

Marine Conservation International: www.marineconservationinternational.org

MCI is a partnership formed by marine scientists to focus on high-priority marine conservation objectives. Its offices are Edinburgh. Co-directors Dr Mauvis Gore and Professor Rupert Ormond are former senior UK university staff (York and London Universities), and both currently hold honorary professorships and senior lectureships at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Between the two of them, MCI has completed more than 100 projects in some 50 different countries (mostly in the Middle-East Indian Ocean and Caribbean) with funding from governments, NGOs, grant-giving bodies and commercial organisations.

 

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