Kittiwake museum exhibit to open under the sea

| 23/03/2016
CNS Local Life

Diver mounts one of the photos for the Kittiwake museum (Photo courtesy of Stephen Aynsley of Divers Down)

(CNS): To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the Kittiwake, the site’s organising committee is preparing an underwater museum at the wreck. Since the ship was sunk 5 January 2011, the site has not only attracted divers but also has been establishing itself as a habitat for marine life.

Laminated photos from when the Kittiwake was in service are being mounted underwater at the wreck and should all be in place within the next few weeks.

The Kittiwake is more than just a well-maintained wreck dive, Stacie Sybersma, project manager at the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), explained. “Wrecks in some situations can serve as artificial reefs, because they offer surfaces for corals to colonise. Once coral and algae start to develop there is a food source for the larger species such as fish and invertebrates, allowing an ecosystem to develop.

“The wreck also provides protection and hiding places making it an ideal home for many species,” she said, adding, “this combination draws in many different animals making the dive more enjoyable because it is a well-maintained wreck surrounded by life”.

Over the last five years, the site has attracted approximately 53,000 divers and 67,800 snorkelers.

Joanna Mikutowicz from DiveTech, which runs dive tours to the wreck, said, “The Kittiwake has attracted fish, corals and other critters that would not be there otherwise. It is nice to see that man-made dive sites can create an entire new reef. It makes me feel excited and optimistic about our coral nursery programme starting in Grand Cayman this spring.”

She added, “The Kittiwake is definitely meeting and exceeding the expectations we all had for it. Not only is it a popular spot to visit on our standard boat trips, but it has created extra boat trips full of customers that have specifically asked to go to the Kittiwake. One of the reasons it was brought here was to fulfil that purpose and it is very exciting to see that it is working.”

Ash McKnight, owner of Go Pro Diving, and CITA watersports board member, also spoke of the popularity of the site. “We are all very pleased that the Kittiwake has been embraced by the local community. Numerous dive operators schedule daily trips to the wreck, and many private citizens have licences for their personal boats,” he said.

“It is also very rewarding to see the international recognition the Kittiwake wreck has received from organisations such as Scuba Diving magazine and Trip Advisor.”

Visitors to the wreck must go on a Kittiwake-licensed vessel, which is done through CITA. Anyone interested in licensing a boat, or to get a list of licensed operators, email CITA or call 949-8522

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Category: Marine Environment

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