Local youngsters dive into conservation fight

| 14/03/2015 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Environment Minister Wayne Panton hands a cheque to L-R) Tariah Lemay Nottage, Melissa Narcisse, Alyssa Thomas, CIFEC Deputy Director Pedro Lazzari, Alexei Bush and Mikol Bodden

(CNS): A group of local students from the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) are getting serious about conservation. Five young people are working with DiveTech Cayman to film underwater footage for a documentary called ‘Deep Bleu’, which is looking at the threats to the marine environment, its grouper population, water pollution, the conditions of local reefs and the effect of captivity on dolphins. The initiative is part of an extended project class at CIFEC.

Mikol Bodden, Alexei Bush, Tariah Lemay-Nottage, Melissa Narcisse and Alyssa Thomas have received $800 from the Ministry of the Environment and the Department of Environment (DoE) to finance their dive trips and the related costs of diving certification, equipment and camera gear.

Lemay-Nottage (16), who is studying creative media, said the project would educate other students about Cayman’s marine life.

“This project is about what the Cayman Islands revolves around — our water,” she said. “We’re surrounded by it and tourists come to look at it. That’s really what attracts them to the Cayman experience.”

The students have filmed interviews with renowned marine life artist and conservationist, Guy Harvey, and DoE staff and the group, which is filming outside of school hours, expects to be finished in May.

As well as making a much-needed contribution to raising awareness about conservation among young people, as Cayman does not have any significant grass roots movement agitating for more protection of its natural resources, the students will also gain valuable experiences that could help them in their future careers.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said, “These students have a chance to increase their knowledge of one of Cayman’s vitally important ecosystems,” she said. “We are hopeful that the approach they are taking will also help them to acquire skills that will assist them in obtaining employment when the time comes for them to enter the job market.”

Environment Minister Wayne Panton said the project falls under his ministry’s mandate to encourage greater appreciation of Cayman’s waters.

“The sea has always been an important part of the lives of Caymanians; we have grown up with a deep appreciation for the opportunities it presents and the life within it. I believe that today, our young people have an even deeper appreciation for the value of our marine environment,” Panton said. “It is a part of who we are, and by supporting projects like this documentary, we all broaden and enhance our understanding of the need for preservation and protection, and of what we can do as members of society to help.”

He added that the environment is a key selling point for Cayman as a tourist destination and draws people to work and live here.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

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