Cayman Islands: CIFEC Students Dive Into Deep Bleu Project
Last Updated: 16 March 2015

A handful of students from the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) are looking to promote local conservation efforts.

Mikol Bodden, Alexei Bush, Tariah Lemay-Nottage, Melissa Narcisse, and Alyssa Thomas are filming a documentary titled 'Deep Bleu'. The youngsters are working with DiveTech Cayman to dive on various local sites and film their experiences.

In addition to making observations regarding conservation efforts, the students' documentary will focus on the state of Cayman's grouper population; current conditions of local reefs; water pollution; and the effect of captivity upon dolphins. The initiative is part of an extended project class at CIFEC.

Both the Ministry of the Environment and the Department of the Environment (DoE) are providing a total of $800 sponsorship to the group. The students will use the funds to finance their dive trips and the related costs of diving certification, equipment and camera gear.

Ms Lemay-Nottage, 16, is a year 12 student focusing on creative media. She said the project will educate her peers 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'.

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

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', Minister 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 Cayman seeks to share the environment in a safe and sustainable way with others.

'Importantly, the environment is a key selling point for Cayman as a tourist destination, and it's also a draw to persons who relocate here to work and live', he said.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said the students will gain skills that they can apply in future employment.

'These students have a chance to increase their knowledge of one of Cayman's vitally important ecosystems', Mrs Ebanks-Petrie 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'.

From left, Ministry CO Dax Basdeo, DoE Deputy Director Tim Austin, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie, Environment Minister Wayne Panton, Tariah Lemay Nottage, Melissa Narcisse, Alyssa Thomas, CIFEC Deputy Director Pedro Lazzari, Alexei Bush, Mikol Bodden, CIFEC teacher Claire Cox, CIFEC teacher Tim Ritter.

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