Living in Cayman


Each summer, Silversides appear and inhabit caves and other aquatic type shelters in the Caribbean.   So late Friday afternoon, with some work colleague, we snuck out early from work to go diving 🙂

Here were are, all smiles, swimming out to the reef.  The first 400-500ft are not very scenic, so no point in wasting our precious air, so we paddle out.

Lots of caves to visit in the area of “Eden Rock”.  Ocean has been calm, so great visibility.  These caves are not for anyone claustrophobic though.  Panicking in an underwater tunnel is probably not a very good situation.

Around Eden Rock, there are LOT of Tarpon.  Although they are large (anywhere between 3-4ft long) they are 100% harmless and quite friendly.  After-all, they see divers and snorkelers 365 days a year at this location.  Always a nice sight though.

Lots of colorful sights to see. No idea what these banana colored formations are.  Definitely pretty though.

Now for the real show : the Silversides!  The reason it’s a show, is that there are 1000’s of them and they hang around in a school that moves in perfect harmony to protect from predators.  It also makes for some spectacular pictures and videos.  The two pictures below show the “formations” of Silversides that moves in perfect sync – really neat.

Of course video’s give you an even better idea of how neat this is, and how it is to be in an underwater cave. 🙂

 


 

Lastly, on the swim back to shore, I got to see one of my favorite Cayman underwater sights – a school of Blue Tang.  These guys always bring a massive smile to my face.  They just cruise around, doing their thing.  Not to mention they are lovely looking fish.

So there you have it!  Another awesome diving experience in Cayman. I had seen the Silversides before, but did not have an underwater to document it. 🙂  If planning a trip to Cayman, they are around from sometime in June to end of July.  We were likely on the last week-end of them being around so were lucky to find them.

Just a quick post about something exciting that happened today.

We had an unexpected, yet very exciting visitor : A barn owl!  I knew we had them here, but had never seen one.  This lovely bird stayed with us for about 1h.

At about 3/4 of the time s/he was sleeping quite nicely. Seemed very content.

Look at the talons on this bird.  Probably doing a good job eating mice/rats in the area.  Good to have this bird around 🙂

At one point it woke up and realized we were looking. The bird looked right back at me.

Right before its graceful departure!

So that’s it!  I was glued to the window the whole time taking pictures and marveling at this beautiful bird.  I was maybe +-6ft away so it was a privilege to be able to observe from so close for an extended period of time. 🙂

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One of the great pleasures about being in Cayman is to have guests over. I recently had the privilege of having my dad over for a week.  Its obviously different from “back home” where we see our friends and family for a day or less most of the time. So when in Cayman, we get to spend lots of quality time with our loved ones and in a great place.

I also got to discover something new about my 77 year old dad: The man is a snorkeling manic!  He had only snorkeled once in his life before (in Cayman a few years back, but not in ideal conditions) This time we did it right and started with easy stuff and moved on to bigger and better snorkeling.  What a great time we had!

Here is a great shot of us in the very calm waters that week-end – we were really lucky as the conditions were close to perfection. Although he’s a good swimmer, I insisted he wear a life vest for which he did not put up much of a fuss 🙂

We also got to see some lovely turtles at Spotts Beach

As well as all kinds of coral formations with plenty of fish!

Here is a short video of him snorkeling at Cemetery Beach – with all the fish around, its easy to see why he had such a good time.

What do to after all that exercise in the water?  Head over to CayBrew for a cold beer of course 🙂

We our course went to the beach, the Crystal caves, a Sunday brunch, the Submarine,etc.  Essentially to many of the things residents don’t really do unless we have friends or family in town. Of course, each time i’m more than happy to do them all over again and again.

Many locals have been following the whole UK “Brexit” from the European Union with much interest.  Its widely known that the Queen has waning influence in the island and that some local politicians are looking north, about 500 miles north for new opportunities in the wake of the UK’s historic departure from the EU!

So it was announced two days ago that a closer link to the US will be sought after – ideally joining NAFTA – the free trade deal between the US, Mexico & Canada. That deal is currently being renegotiated so the timing to get Cayman included in the deal was right.  In fact, during one of US President Trump’s week-ends at his Florida estate, he came for a series of quick meetings with local officials to indicate his support in including the Cayman Islands in the Free trade agreement, stating that he loves our local Rum and Stingray City.

Here is the President with the local minister of foreign affairs, Bobby Conner.  Things are sure looking up for Cayman exports!

In future years, there is room for negotiation on Cayman getting a status not unlike the US Virgin Islands as a sort of “Quasi US state”.  It makes sense, we already use the US$ so we already have a foot in the door so to say.  That would also allow major chains such as McDonald’s, Walmart and Hooters to open stores in Cayman.

According to local reports, the second wave of the negotiations to become part of the USA will start on April 1st. 2018 – next April Fools day 🙂

Three years ago, I did my first dive on the USS Kittiwake.  That blog post from 2014 can be found here.  (http://micho.org/cayblog/?p=2678) A quick recall – the Kittiwake is a former US Warship that was decommissioned in the 1990’s and purchased by the Cayman Islands in order to make an artificial reef for diving.

So after 3-years and I am now equipped with a GoPro underwater camera, the level of photography will be much enhanced!

Since my last dive at the Kittiwake, there have been a few changes.  Changes that have been caused by the weather.  The first change is that the boat shifted closer to the reef formations.  Still a good distance away, a storm a year ago or so moved the boat a number of feet westward. The other change is that the “wheelhouse” aka where they steer the boat, is no longer present. A storm this winter which had some big currents ripped the roof of the wheelhouse apart.  Oh well – nature slowly taking back its place I guess.

From the surface, the Kittiwake does not look like much – but we can already see that its a big ship.  It sits in only 50ft or so of water.

Almost immediately, we can see the large school of Horse-Eye Jacks.  These fish “adopted” the Kittiwake almost as soon as the ship was sunk in 2011.  They are a very large group now.

In this video you can get a good feel for how graceful these fish are and how many there are swimming around.

Here is the newly “open air” wheelhouse. 🙂

Now we go inside the ship.  Here one of my fellow divers enters … following the dive instructor who clearly knows where he is going.  In any case, there are many cut-outs and a fair amount of light that gets inside.  Someone with claustrophobia would probably not enjoy, but everyone else will 🙂

Here is the video of most of the inside visit.  Near the end when I look up, that is the former smokestack – very cool!

Since the Kittiwake has been sunk for almost 6 years now, nature has certainly been adapting and taking back its place.  Here are a few shots of formations around the ship.  First is … well I don’t know what this is! 🙂  Some kind of coral tubes – the longest one was around 2ft long and very pretty.

Some more kind of coral.  A lovely shade of blue with a yellow base of some sort.  As you can see, I don’t really know what I am looking at, a part from the fact that this pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In every small area, life has moved in – coral, sea urchins, small & large fish, etc.  When you take the time to look around at the small stuff here, there is so much to see.

I’m very pleased with my second Kittiwake dive. Its also a great wreck dive for novice divers who want to do something a bit more exciting.  The dive instructors will give you a guided tour both inside and out.  definitely a lot of fun and a must-see for anyone diving in Grand Cayman.

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