Platt challenges CIG’s claims over port reefs

| 03/10/2018 | 61 Comments
Courtney Platt, Cayman News Service

Area of reef in the George Town Harbour in the direct dredging zone (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): Courtney Platt, one of the Cayman Islands’ leading experts on the marine life in George Town Harbour, is joining the opposition and Cruise Port Referendum campaign this month to demonstrate that claims made by the tourism ministry that much of the marine life in George Town Harbour is dead are false. Platt made the case to a small audience in North Side on Tuesday evening that the reefs in the harbour are rare, in some cases very old, unique and very much alive, as he pointed out that Cayman is one of the few places in the Caribbean which offers incredible, safe snorkelling and diving to visitors right where they arrive.

In an engaging presentation at the first opposition public meeting on the controversial cruise project, he showed pictures and videos of the coral in the harbour and the incredible diversity of the marine life that he said visitors are absolutely thrilled to see when they come to Grand Cayman on a ship. With so many fish and teeming with marine life, the ability for tourists to get in the water minutes after getting off cruise ships is a huge benefit for Cayman.

Courtney Platt, Cayman News Service

Coral reef within George Town Harbour (Photo by Courtney Platt)

Platt refuted claims made at the tourism ministry’s public meeting, when a video depicting some areas in the harbour where the reef has been lost and crushed was shown to the public. He pointed out that the video showed only a very small part of the underwater harbour and failed to show the significant number of reefs and wrecks that blow visitors away.

He pointed out that every week the glass bottom boats and submarines that operate in the harbour also take hundreds of tourists who cannot dive or snorkel under the water to see the thriving marine habitat.

Platt showed images and footage taken at Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto, a 5,000-year-old reef of twisting tunnels and caves which is famous around the world. During the summer months, millions of dwarf herring, also known as silversides, and fries come there to spawn, filling the tunnels and creating a unique experience for divers — which will be lost as a result of the project.

Most of the main underwater attractions in the George Town Harbour, such as the wreck of the Cali, Cheeseburger Reef, the Balboa wreck and much of Soto’s Reef, will be lost forever as a direct result of the dredging or from the silt and sediment during construction.

Courtney Platt, Cayman News Service

The Cali Shipwreck and reef is located in 10 to 30 feet of water immediately adjacent to the base of the cruise ship landing and will be completely smothered by silt during dredging operations if the cruise berth goes ahead as planned (Photo by Courtney Platt)

Most experts agree that no amount of screening during the construction period will protect the reefs. Given the expectations from most marine experts that, with no currents in George Town Harbour, the constant arrival and departure of the cruise ships will continue to stir up the sediment, those reefs that may survive are unlikely to do so for long and will never recover their original splendor.

Although government claims the re-design on the original drawings has reduced the size of the dredge area by around 25%, the loss of coral has been cut by only 7%, so most of the healthy, and in many cases ancient, reef will be lost for ever.

Painting a vibrant picture of life under the harbour’s still crystal clear waters which has attracted visitors for decades, Platt demonstrated clearly that George Town Harbour is not dead and is well worth fighting for.

Like many reefs in the Caribbean, they are battling to survive in the face of climate change, over-fishing and coastal development. But George Town Harbour is doing very much better than most of its rival ports and offers an unparalleled experience for those that snorkel and dive.

Courtney Platt, Cayman News Service

The Balboa Shipwreck and reef is located in 10 to 30 feet of water immediately in front of the cruise ship landing and will be completely removed by dredging operations if the cruise berth goes ahead as planned. Many consider the Balboa to be both, the number one and number two of the top ten dive sites in Grand Cayman – night dive is #1, day dive is #2. (Photo by Courtney Platt)

Platt said many people in the tourism sector make their living only and directly from trips in George Town harbour or hiring out equipment to divers and snorkellers. While government is telling the public that the cruise berthing facility is needed to support the tourism industry, its development would put an end to a significant number of water-tour operators and all of the associated jobs, as well as removing a chunk of unique attractions from the local menu.

Given that government expects the berthing facility to increase the annual number of cruise visitors from the current 1.7 million to almost 2.5 million, largely in the five high-season months, removing the attractions in the harbour would result in a massive increase in pressure on Seven Mile Beach and Stingray City.

This is giving rise to significant concerns because the government has already noted in its own National Tourism Plan that these two attractions are already at capacity.

See the video shown by Platt at the meeting here: Silver Rush at Eden Rock

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature, Tourism

Comments (61)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Exactly when and where were the pics and images taken? I’ve seen those images before and they weren’t captioned as GT Harbour. That’s been a working port for 40+ years, how can it look like that after decades of all the ships and anchors going up and down? Give me a break.

  2. Courtney Platt says:

    If you are a registered voter, please sign the petition for Referendum so we can finally vote on this issue. Let the people have their say. If you want to hear my talk and see the evidence I start promptly at 7:30PM for 20 minutes at each of the Opposition member’s meetings this week and next. Savannah Primary School Hall tonight. Be there!

  3. Braclady says:

    Oserving side by side the issues around what appears from an intelligent point of view, an unnecessary and potentially dangerous dock and then read about the pollution from the trash over the past few years that is being disposed of without proper equipment and you can see immediately where these funds should go. I am happy to leave my name because I know thie comparison speaks for itself. I will not even mention health care, education and prison systems.

    • Courtney Platt says:

      Dear Braclady, please contact CPR to help lead the push in the Brac to come out to vote when the referendum, to be confirmed shortly comes to a vote. We need 50% of all registered voters, not 50% of the votes, so we need Brackers to join us in saving this precious renewable resource that Government is so willing to destroy. You are not sitting on the sidelines if you stay home… that would be a vote for the port!

  4. Anonymous says:

    After the poor attendance at their meetings the opposition should recognize that caymanians support the cruise port and stop playing politics.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Im wondering why there is not much consideration to the SkyBridge (Cable Car) idea that a local company put forward. This will be docks built in the deep waters, connected by cable cars. I think this is a reasonable and viable solution (used all over the world), which will eliminate the shallow water dredging (coral damage) and also be a beautiful site seeing experience in itself (if ‘mount trashmore’ is gone :-).. Tenders can still operate also from the docks with the Cable cars as a surcharged option for example.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh my gosh, not the sky cars again SMH.

      Salt air would render that useless inside 6 months

      • Anonymous says:

        So your saying that NOWHERE in the world has cable cars that transverse saltwater? Stainless steel.. Aluminum.. I’m not an expert, maybe you are..

  6. Anonymous says:

    what lodge says in cayman goes! stark reality….????

  7. Anonymous says:

    CLUE to the coral huggers:

    There is lots and lots of coral around Cayman, and coral will not cease to exist because of a dock.

    ALSO: The earth is made of of living things, such as plants, trees, coral, and cute seahorses and such. Unless you plan on developing in the middle of the desert, you will need to develop in areas which contains life forms, where those life forms will either have to be moved, grow around the new structures, or grow elsewhere.

    Believe this or not: In the rest-of-the-world, docks have been built, without the eco systems collapsing. Yes it’s really true. It IS POSSIBLE to build structure and have the marine life flourish around it. This FACT can be observed with the NAKED EYE without the need of a superduper-photographer and marine life and all-caring climate explainer. You can see coral living happy on top of sunken shipwrecks, oil rigs, bridges and even docks!…17603.18154.0.18695.….0…1c.1.64.img..0.0.0….0.7h5AHT-Frps#imgrc=j1WGr_Fb5k8f7M:

    The notion that the dock will kill marine life and the nearby habitat is A LIE!

    You may not be able to dive precisely where the dock will be located, but OF COURSE, all of the surrounding reefs will be just fine along with the rest of the 200+ dive spots.

    And there is no reason not to re-locate all of the large coral beds on top of that, if we need to satisfy our precious emotions, and important display of politically praised social virtues.

    Now go ahead and thumbs down, O’ all caring, ultra-sensitive bottom lip-quivering socially virtuous ones. Viva Feelings over Facts!

    • Anonymous says:

      Poor you. Misinformed and blowing hot air all day.

      Ignorance has no limits.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Now this really pisses me off that with an issue like this cruise ship pier issue . That the Cayman Compass who claims to the most trusted News source , isn’t publishing more up to date articles /information on what is pertaining to this issue , and not allowing anyone publish their opinion . The last comment that was published was on 02/09/18 .

      Who and what do they really stands for ? not we the people . I really think that CNS is really doing the people and the Islands a good service when they give the people a public forum and let then voice their opinion on the matters that pertains to everyone life of the Islands . And the C C is doing everyone dis-service .

      CNS thank you and keep up the fair spirited Journalism .

    • Anonymous says:

      Fact is you are a small minded, basic human being.

      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Anonymous 12 :38 pm , if you are referring to me , you wish you have a mind the size of mind .I don’t know if you can see what they are doing . Let me tell you that when they take away your opportunity to voice your options publicly , that is big harm to you and the Islands .

    • Anonymous says:

      Too bad all that nature keeps all humans alive. We could do with less like you.

      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Anonymous 12 :39 pm , you sounds like the same as them and is and shouldn’t be in a good society .

    • Curtis Bush says:

      Brother 11:14 am, Why don’t you use your name when commenting? Are you afraid we would see that you stand to make BIG MONEY if the port is built? I thought so!!!

  8. Ken says:

    My son and I spent many Saturday afternoons, Sunday mornings and public holidays (for several years) swimming out to the trampoline just off of Paradise Restaurant, as well as snorkeling and fishing at Eden Rock. I haven’t had a swim in the harbor since my son went off to school a year ago, but I can attest that the George Town harbor has an abundance of marine life and living coral formations. Just jump in and have a look for yourself.

    BTW, I just spent a few days on the Greek island of Santorini, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. On one side of the island, there is a dock much like the one that we currently have here in Cayman, where huge ferries bring tourists from the mainland. On the other side of the island, below the Caldera Cliffs, is the cruise ship port. I witnessed up to 6 cruise ships coming in to that harbor every day. Ships of every size, from huge mega ships to smaller regional cruise ships, sitting in the harbor just as they do here in Cayman. The local information guides stated that Santorini’s cruise ship terminal in the town of Fira takes in up to 80,000 cruise ship passengers a day during the high season. 80,000 a day! Not a single one of those passengers step off of their ship onto a pier. Every single passenger is ferried ashore by cruise ship tenders operated by the Santorini Boatmen’s Union. So if Santorini, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world, can entertain 80,000 cruise ship passengers a day without ships docking up to a pier or a berth, why do we need to change the way cruise ship passengers come ashore here?

  9. Anonymous says:

    hey politicians….it like someone destoying someone’s house? we are the voices of the marine life….the marine life is saying, please do not destroy our habitats, it all we have???????????????

  10. Ron Ebanks says:

    People including all the politicians go to these meeting that Mr Platt is holding , you will learn how important the underwater environment has been and would continue to be in the future , if not destroyed by greed and stupidity . Mr Platt is walking encyclopedia of the Cayman Islands underwater environment , and I applaud and fully support him for doing what he’s doing .

    • BELONGER says:

      Does anyone recall when Dolphin Cove and Dolphin Discovery was being formed the in Grand Cayman several years ago, the big brewhaaaa that came from our environmentalist and local activists about our reefs and environment were going to be destroyed by their waste etc etc……..

      What happened to those accurate predictions ??

      Aaahhhh I say it’s scare tactics and pure politics 101 again !!

      • Anonymous says:

        Guess what, “belonger”…..I never agreed with the captivity of those beautiful creatures.

        It just isn’t fair to have them confined to such a small space when they swim up to 40-50 miles per day in the ocean. So, I don’t support the dolphin cove or discovery cove as the concept is cruel and is just about making money!

        Scare tactics? NA! Just plain common sense.

        We never needed the port, and people are so damn ignorant they now believe this port project will save Cayman, when in actuality, it WILL sink us into debt forever.

  11. Anonymous says:

    moses, i consider you a friend, who fishes mostly in harbor…it is not true? the marine life is vibrant and thriving in the george town harbor…i can attest to that…and yes i am a native as you are…

  12. Anon says:

    Bless you, Courtney. Your passion for Cayman’s natural environment, willingness to speak up and to do something to protect it, is much appreciated.

    Thank you for reaching out to all our people. Please make a trip (or two) to each district. Everyone needs to hear and see you give these presentations.

    It has been my privilage you have learned from you and worked with you over the years. I’m sure many others can and will learn from your experience and images.

    To life’s deeper meaning and purpose.

    H.L. 🙂

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anon 2 :17 am , I completely agree with your comment . But Mr Platt shouldn’t have to make a trip or two to each district . What Courtney is doing is for the benefits of EVERYONE’S FUTURE INCLUDING THE NEXT GENERATION .
      So therefore WE All should make it a point to attend the meeting that he Platt would be holding . He should only have to do one public meeting , because what he is doing is for the love of the environment and the Islands .

  13. Anonymous says:

    Also, the balboa was a shipping hazard and the marine corps fillied it with explosives and blew it to pieces. There’s nothing culturally or historically sensitive about a wreck that was in the way of cargo ships and was destroyed on purpose. There’s also hardly anything left of it

  14. Anonymous says:

    We need a dock! If you don’t like it go and live on another island opps all of them have docks. Pile of crap the government is not destroying the dive sites. These same ppl protesting the dock should consider the jobs that cruise tourism bring to local ppl taxi drivers, man on the road selling coconuts, tour operators the list goes on. These activist complain not giving a solution to resolve the problem our cargo is in desperate need of a upgrade. Support the dock Cayman!

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      YOU, don’t speak for ALL.

      You speak for you; thank God, and you need to get a proper education.

      Anyone with an education and an ounce of integrity will say no to this disaster of a project.

      You didn’t just drink the cool-aide, you snorted it too didn’t you! GEESH.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen Courtney’s presentations back in the 2015, all of his pictures had copy right marks showing back in the 80s and 90s. He got called out on using old material and the next week he had 2015 all over them just like in this article.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 11 :24pm and 10 :57 pm, I have known Courtney Platt for many years and his honest and integrity , is far beyond both of yours , and wouldn’t do your false accusations . So find something more intelligent to write or don’t write at all , and go to Platt meeting and learn something .

  16. Anonymous says:

    None of Courtney’s picture are anywhere in the actual harbour, probably a half mile away but not near the Port or dredge area

    • Anonymous says:

      The silt is the issue you imbecile, read the article again! The whole area will be affected not just the specific dredging area. I say one thing to all the people that say building the dock will not affect the coral and wild life in the harbour. If you’re so sure, please put your assets on the line.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Here comes Courtney Platt rolling out the 1980s photo reel pretending the harbour is untouched by years ofshipping

    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously have not been snorkeling by Eden Rock recently. Tons of silver sides and other marine wild life out there. Some of the most colorful and vibrant coral around the island.

    • MM says:

      Seriously? This is the comment you are taking up precious internet space with?

      Mr Platt has been photographing Cayman marine life for over 30 years – do you think he has any need or desire to bring out 30 year old photos to prove a currently relevant point?

      And if those pics are over 30 years old, my, what a quality underwater camera he had for the time!

  18. Anonymous says:

    good on you Courtney. thanks for showing this. Only hope that the Government sees and appreciates our environment and not destroy it,
    the good book tells us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some of those wanting to allow the coral beds to be destroyed are in Church every week-end and should know better.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been out there a thousand times, there is nothing out in the harbour area. Ships have been dropping anchors and running aground for decades, it’s 90% dead. Some corals are Aline hundreds of yards away but not where the dock will be built.

  20. Anonymous says:

    To lose this, or even risk losing it, would be a true tragedy. As Mexico protects more and more areas of reef because they KNOW how vital it is to life and tourism, Cayman will forever be know as The Reef Killer, also ensuring that our global reputation for money over anything, including the natural world.

  21. Careless Whisper says:

    Well done Courtney. I applaud you for your input. Surprising people like Guy Harvey and the National Trust are quiet on the most important topic that will affect this country and the envorinment for generations. Sad when people who are advocates and protector of our envorinment sit quiet and do nothing.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Careless Whisper , that comment is not a careless whisper, that’s a true whisper . But that just show us how willing some people are to destroy everything for that god allmighty dollar .

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why do politicians lie, lie, lie so much? Do you ever wonder that? Humans are capable of such goodness but so many people pull such lame bullshit. I don’t know the answer but Jesus, I wish we could change. This is sad.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      How can some not believe what Mr Platt is saying , Courtney is a walking encyclopedia of the Cayman islands underwater environment , but some would want to believe these politicians that probably never been in the water at all . To those that are claiming that the corals are dead in George town harbour , why don’t they take of their full suit and put on their bathing suit and go into the water and see for themselves .

      I believe that I told the story of the politicians in Mexico who were making the same claims that the reef was dead , untill they went into the water and got fire coral put in their bathing suits, then they realized that the reef is alive . I would love to see that repeated . So that they can stop paying people to tell them what they want to be told .

      People including the politicians go to these meeting that Mr Platt would be holding so that you can learn something about how important the underwater environment has been and would continue to be in the future , if not destroyed by greed and stupidity .

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank God for all these people who have expertise in the Marine Environment. But this just goes to show how vested interest works. You scratch my Back, I scratch yours. I remember the reaction from the environmentalists when the Dolphin Discovery was going to ruing the marine environment.

  23. Anonymous says:

    For a country that relies so heavily on its tourism and natural beauty why would anyone in their right mind put it anywhere near the main tourist attraction.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Courtney Platt is a legend. I remember him piloting the deep sea submersible in the 80s and he took me to 800 ft.
    He is very intelligent, learned and passionate about Cayman. His opinion should be respected.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve known Courtney for the odd 35+ years he has lived here and worked with him in diving back in the 80’s. There are very few people in Cayman that know about the reef biology , ecosystem and understand that environment more than he does. He has been and continues to be a great ambassador for Caymans diving tourism.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Build our dock.

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