August 14, 2022

The Editor Speaks: Upbeat response to Kittiwake after storm snaps its anchors but DOE not so happy

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Although Hurricane Nate was 300 miles away from Grand Cayman when it thankfully passed us by, it still managed to snap the anchors of our shipwreck dive site, the USS Kittiwake.

The ship tilted over on to its side and its port side rail was in the sand.

Jason Washington, of Ambassador Divers, who surveyed the damage said the dive site would have to be closed to divers whilst the damage to the ship could be assessed.

However, Washington was upbeat. He was reported as saying, “The silver lining to this cloud is we effectively have a brand new dive site. Divers, photographers and videographers have come from all over the world to photograph the Kittiwake and now they have a reason to come back. The lighting is different, the angles are different; for a photographer, it is a completely different site.”

There were similar responses from other divers. But not from the Department of Environment (DOE).

The Kittiwake has caused damage by its movement to some of the adjacent living coral reefs and from their early inspection it would appear the coral damage is confined to an area of about five by three metres.

The DOE have never been very enthusiastic about artificial wrecks being sunk around Grand Cayman especially when they are close to living coral.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie told CNS, “Movement such as has been observed at the Kittiwake is not completely unexpected during a storm event. This is why the DoE has consistently recommended against the placement of artificial wrecks and other objects on the seabed around the Cayman Islands as our extremely narrow marine shelf makes it is very difficult to place these structures at any safe distance from living reef.”

“Although no longer touching the reef, she currently lies very close to it and future contact with the reef can be expected with other large storm events. This suggests that repair of the identified damage is not advisable at this stage,”

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) in a Press Release today (Tue) said all was well and after an extensive assessment the Kittiwake dive site was deemed safe for future visits.

Not surprisingly there was no mention at all of the damage to the living coral.

The CITA is there to attract visitors, that includes a very large contingent of divers to the Cayman Islands.

They also said the dive wreck will make an interesting snorkel spot as the whole wreck can now be seen from the surface.

Well the wreck is different now and so are the points of view about it.

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