October 17, 2004: Little Cayman Post-Hurricane Ivan

As Grand Cayman rebuilds, the Sister Islands of Little Cayman & Cayman Brac re-open for business. Their location, approximately 90 miles northeast of Grand Cayman protected them from the worst of Ivan and the islands suffered minimal damage.

On Little Cayman, our DOE representative, Jim Squire, is completing the repair of moorings and the reef has been surveyed. We are delighted to report that the reef is intact with no damage reported even at Mixing Bowl, where Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson Reef meet in only 18ft of water. On the South side of the island, there has been a little sponge and sea fan damage in the shallows but at sites such as The Meadows, a great deal of sand has gone – revealing superb new ‘swim-throughs' for divers.
The staff of Little Cayman Beach Resort have worked non-stop since the hurricane and are ready for the grand re-opening on October 23rd. Although tourists are not allowed to visit Grand Cayman at this time, there are no travel restrictions for the Sister Islands and visitors are permitted to connect in Grand Cayman.
On Thursday when local fisherman reported seeing a whale shark off Point of Sand, the island's most easterly point. Dive staff, maintenance & housekeeping staff alike scrambled for the boat and set off to catch a glimpse of the largest species of fish in world.

The best way to find a whale shark is to look for sea birds on the water and as they approached Point of Sand they found a feeding frenzy of Red-Footed Boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds about 1.5 miles offshore.

A huge bait ball was being attacked by a school of tuna and the water boiled with activity. Under the swirling mass of silversides the unmistakable shape of a whale shark could be seen just under the surface.

The snorkellers slid into the water as quietly as possible and were able to swim with the 6m (20ft) fish for about 10 minutes as it slowly circled, mouth agape, feeding on plankton and baitfish that the tuna left behind.

Whale sharks are the largest member of the shark family growing to over 15m (50ft) in length. They occur worldwide in tropical and temperate seas except the Mediterranean and are thought to be highly migratory.

The photographs taken by Andy Murrant, one of the Resort Managers will be forwarded to The Shark Trust and Ecocean to help with Whale shark research and conservation.



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