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Curacao’s leading sustainable dive tourism operators become Green Fins Members

Bryan Horne

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The Reef-World Foundation has launched a new online platform, the Green Fins Hub, which will assist Curaçao’s leading sustainable dive tourism operators as Green Fins Digital Members in developing best environmental practices for marine tourism.

These leading sustainable dive tourism operators (Ocean Encounters, The Dive Bus, Scubacao and GO WEST Diving) in Curaçao have all become Green Fins Digital Members to reinforce the absolute need to create change in order to provide future generations with an opportunity for a healthy and sustainable environment, both above and below the waterline.

“From a private sector point of view, Dive Curacao is incredibly proud to support sustainable dive tourism and these leaders of the Curaçao Dive Tourism Industry to create change. Afterall, if we do nothing to support the environment, we will eventually have an unsustainable dive tourism industry in Curaçao. This will lead to an inability to deliver exceptional dive travel and vacation experiences in the future. Bottom line is that apathy can no longer be embraced”,says Bryan Horne, Founder of Dive Curacao

Why should responsible Curaçao Dive Tourism operators become a Green Fins Members?

The most important reason why Curaçao Tourism operators should become Green Fins Members is, of course, to support the environmental component of Curaçao. Coral reefs in Curacao comprise 104 square kilometers of extremely bio-diverse systems and therefore represent a high economic value.

Consequently, it is important to protect the dive sites and snorkel sites to ensure the sustainable growth of this valuable industry. The same way these dive operators take part in certification programs to raise their service level, The Reef-World Foundation developed the assessment system to measure compliance to the “Green Fins Code of Conduct” that was co-created with UNEP. The Green Fins tools and resources also support industry compliance to Sustainable Diving and Snorkelling ISO standards that address the needs of the industry to meet the rapid shift in demand for sustainable tourism plus the mounting threat towards the marine environment.

Accordingly, initiatives like this combined with government support for progressive marine management legislation will change, legitimize and strengthen the position of the dive tourism industry in Curaçao. As recent studies have shown, their contribution to the Curaçao economy is of great value.

“Marine tourism plays an important role in Curaçao’s economy and as the industry grows, it is critical to establish practical approaches to protect the marine environment. By adopting Green Fins, dive operators are taking vital steps in ensuring Curaçao’s dive market is sustainably managed to increase corals and marine life’s resilience to wider global threats and protect the valuable marine ecosystems for future generations.” said JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation

About the Green Fins Hub

The Green Fins Hub is the latest development by The Reef-World Foundation to meet the growing industry demand for environmentally friendly underwater sports. The foundation recently surveyed more than 2,400 dive tourists and professionals, 75% of whom said they are willing to pay more for marine tour operators with a firm commitment to sustainability.

Created in partnership with UNEP and industry key players such as PADI, PSS, RAID, DAN, ZuBlu and PADI Travel, the Green Fins Hub hosts both the existing Certified Members and registrants to its new digital membership program.

The Hub includes a Community Forum where members can discuss solutions and other topics related to sustainable marine tourism with like-minded operators, NGOs, governments and industry partners; a Solutions Library with information on how to implement best practices; and an Action Plan Tracker to track, collaborate and improve operation’s conservation efforts.

It is hoped the new global digital platform will increase Green Fins uptake, not only in Curaçao, but globally, from the current 700 Green Fins certified operators in 14 countries to a potential 30,000 operators worldwide.

The Green Fins digital membership is available to dive, snorkel and liveaboard operators around the world, in which they will receive environmental scores based on a detailed online self-evaluation of their operation’s environmental practices and most importantly, solutions and actions to the results of their self-evaluation.

This process is seen as the first step to implement Green Fins in Curaçao on a national level with a government-led team to enable dive operators to become Green Fins Certified Members where they will receive annual in-person assessment, on-site training for staff and consultation to help the business develop and implement best practice to improve the sustainability of the marine tourism industry.

Operators that have registered, successfully completed their online self-evaluation and developed their own action plan will be provided with a digital certificate enabling tourists to identify operations that have committed to taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint whilst carrying out their activities.

For more information about Green Fins and the new digital membership, visit www.greenfins.net/digital-membership/

Header Image: Frank Do

Bryan Horne wasn’t born in Curaçao; he’s a Canadian native, drawn to the Island “out of a passion for scuba diving and the underwater world.” Moving was always going to be a life-changing decision, but in diving, Bryan had found his calling. As the founder and owner of Dive Curaçao, he spends his days showing off Curaçao’s hidden undersea treasures – and does his part to preserve them for future generations.

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Cayman Bogue swim fundraiser adds sister island event for 2023

Caribbean DTA Team

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Swimmers from around the world invited to traverse ‘The Bogue’ in this 10K swim from Cayman Brac to Little Cayman for CCMI.

In September 2021, 16 local swimmers took on the challenge of swimming from Cayman Brac to Little Cayman, an open water swim of approximately 10 kilometres, to raise money for local non-profit the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). After a very successful and fun initial experience, the organisers plan to make this an annual event to help bring endurance swimming events to the Sister Islands.

With such interest after the inaugural event, the 2023 Cayman Bogue Swim has increased the number of available registrations to 50 swimmers, has opened registration to swimmers both locally and abroad, will include several categories of registration, and will feature an expanded weekend of fun and activity in Little Cayman. Participants and their supporters can plan to join other Bogue swimmers for a welcome drinks/packet pick up event on the Friday evening, Bogue Bash: Band and BBQ celebration dinner on the Saturday evening, a tour of CCMI, and more. The weekend will begin Friday, 28th April 2023, with the actual swim starting at 8 am on Saturday, 29th April. The swim starts at Scott’s Dock, Cayman Brac and finishes at Point of Sand on Little Cayman.

Swimmers can choose to register in the competitive ‘race’ category, open water swim category, or as a relay team of two or four persons. No matter the race registration category, the Cayman Bogue Swim is an opportunity for swimmers of all ages, backgrounds, and mixed ability to share in a unique physical and mental challenge that has only been completed by a small number of swimming enthusiasts.

Swimmers can register for the event at https://donate.reefresearch.org/BogueSwim2023. Registration is US $325/person, and it includes event registration, welcome pack, event shirt, event swim cap, entry to welcome drink event/packet pick-up, locally made finisher medal, entry to the Bogue Bash: Band & BBQ event, tour of CCMI, transport via boat to the start line from Little Cayman, in-water support, and include a donation to CCMI in support of their work. Flights, lodging, all other meals, and incidentals are not included in the registration fee and are the responsibility of the participant.

The organisers of The Cayman Bogue Swim once again selected CCMI as the beneficiary of event proceeds, and unlike last year, swimmers will not have to engage in significant fundraising as part of their commitment to swimming in the event. However, anyone wishing to support the participants and their efforts to swim across the Bogue are welcome to donate to the online fundraising page: https://tinyurl.com/Bogue2023.

All donations support CCMI and their work to protect and restore coral reefs in the Cayman Islands through impactful research and innovative marine education experience for students.

For more information about the swim, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/caymanbogue.

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Halloween Special Part 2: PADI’s top 7 wrecks to dive in Bermuda

Caribbean DTA Team

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Just in time for Halloween, we’re back with Part 2 of our deep dive with PADI into spooky Bermuda… 

  1. The Mary Celestia

Also known as the Mary Celeste, this Civil War-era paddle steamer hit a coral reef and sank to her watery grave 1884. She’s known as one of the oldest wrecks in the area and is well-preserved considering: divers can view both her intact paddlewheel and engine, plus her bow, stern, boilers, and anchor. Resting at 55 feet below the surface, a little piece of Mary Celestia made its way above water in 2015 after a few bottles of 150-year-old wine were discovered and delivered to sommeliers for sampling in Charleston, South Carolina.

  1. The Cristóbal Colón

This enormous ship is the largest wreck in all of Bermuda. Coming in at a whopping 499 feet long, the Cristóbal Colón was a Spanish luxury liner that crashed into a coral reef off the north shore in 1936. With an abundance of marine life that’s settled in and around the wreckage strewn across 100,000 square feet of the sea floor, she’s visited by snorkelers and divers alike. Today she can be found at depths of 15 to 60 feet, but she used to peek out the surface of the water when she first sank, up until she was used for target practice in World War II.

  1. The Iristo

Only a year after the Cristóbal Colón went down, the Iristo (also known as the Aristo) followed in 1937. The captain of the Norwegian freighter is said to have been startled by the Cristóbal Colón’s wreckage, which ultimately led to the Iristo’s own untimely fate. He ordered the crew to change course but the Iristo struck a submerged reef and went down too! Her wreckage remains to this day with engine, boilers, and propeller visible amongst spectacular coral.

  1. The North Carolina

Looking for an extra spooky dive? Check out the North Carolina’s ghostly “deadeyes” in rows along her deck railings – the uncanny sailing riggings look just like cartoon skulls. At depths between 25 and 45 feet, she makes for an eerie visit whether taking a shallow dive as a beginner or diving into the deep. Hailing from Liverpool, this 250-foot English iron hull sank on New Year’s Day in 1880 when she ran aground southwest of Bermuda. Despite attempts to raise her, she remains in the depths of the sea sitting upright with a collapsed mid-section.

  1. The Montana and the Constellation

Get a two-for-one dive in when you visit the Montana and the Constellation, uniquely stacked on top of each other to the northwest of Bermuda. The Montana wreck dates back to 1863 – the Civil War era blockade runner hit a shallow reef and down she went. The Constellation followed eighty years later in 1943 and some reports state that the Montana’s bow took her down! The American cargo ship was carrying building materials and scotch when she went down, so divers can view stacks of cement bags and glassware when they explore these shallow waters.

  1. The Hermes

Explore the outside or inside of Hermes, a freighter that experienced engine trouble and was abandoned by her crew. Built in 1943, the lonely ship was deserted until 1984 when she was acquired by the Bermuda Dive Association and turned into a sunken artificial reef. She’s known as a highly photogenic beauty with fantastic visibility. Fully intact with her mast pointing to the surface, Hermes has come a long way from desertion as one of Bermuda’s most popular dive sites.

  1. The King George

Another lonely and ghostly ship left to sink to the bottom of the sea, the King George is a large dredger that was built for the Bermuda Government. After arriving on the island in 1911, she served a few years before being towed out to sea and left to sink in 1930 when she was no longer needed for harbor operations. Fully intact and upright, divers can circle her from end to end on the quiet ocean floor.

Ready for a Spooky Dive in Bermuda?

If you want to dive into the spooky depths of Bermuda’s water, there are several different types of PADI certification to get you there.

Formal training for wreck diving is especially important for your safety as it involves special procedures, techniques, and equipment. The PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course covers all the fundamentals and includes four scuba dives to give you practice in the open water.

Enrolling is simple: you must be at least 15 years old and have earned your PADI Adventure Diver certification or higher. PADI’s wreck dive certification covers the basics, from navigating the inside and outside of a wreck to the appropriate gear you’ll need for wreck diving. You’ll also learn how to plan and map a wreck site along with special techniques to protect the site’s integrity.

You complete your certification after four wreck dives with an instructor, and away you go! The eerie deep blue of Bermuda awaits…

Images: DIVE BERMUDA

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