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Saving Sharks

Caybrew's Marketing Manager Matthew Leslie hands over a cheque to Environment Minister the Hon. Mark Scotland and Director of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie for the Cayman shark and dolphin project.

On Thursday, 5 January night, CayBrew's marketing manager Matthew Leslie presented the Department of Environment and its Minister, the Hon. Mark Scotland, with a cheque for over $3,000 in support of the work of the Cayman Shark and Dolphin Project.

The event took place at the Marriott Hotel, jointly sponsored by the hotel, CayBrew and the Save Our Seas Foundation. The funds represented three months' proceeds from the 5-cents-on-every-can of CayBrew's new shark conservation Whitetip lager, which the company is generously donating to the project.

At the same event, naturalist and painter Guy Harvey also introduced a new T-shirt designed to promote shark protection in the Cayman Islands. Again, profits from the sale of the shirts will be used to support the project.

Prior to the presentation of the cheque, Overseas Territory Environment Programme (OTEP) project leader Dr. Mauvis Gore gave a short, illustrated presentation on some of the main findings of the project. She said that sharks were not as abundant around the Cayman Islands as they would have been in the 1930s, when there was a significant shark fishery, depletingthe populations. She also noted that there are modest numbers of various species, especially around Little Cayman. Similarly, although whales and dolphins are not abundant in Cayman waters, a variety of interesting species such as beaked whales and pygmy sperm whale occur in small numbers.

Dr. Gore also summarised the results of the tracking work to date. They show that Caribbean reef sharks move around the individual islands and occasionally between them. By contrast, the very small number of tiger sharks that visit Cayman have been shown to stay only a short period, travelling widely around other parts of the Caribbean most of the year.

Dr. Mavis Gore of Marine Conservation International present data on sharks around the Cayman Islands.

Her colleague, Professor Rupert Ormond, highlighted some findings from economic and management studies. These showed that the opportunity to see large marine animals, especially sharks and dolphins, was a major factor in attracting scuba divers and other holiday makers in the Cayman Islands. Thus live sharks were important to the tourist industry and estimated to be at least fifty times more valuable to the local economy when alive than if caught for consumption.

Marine Conservation International

Marine Conservation International (MCI) is a partnership formed by marine scientists to enable them to pursue projects with conservation objectives in the most effective way. The Directors (senior partners) are Dr. Rupert Ormond, previously Director of the University of London's Marine Biological Station, and Dr. Mauvis Gore, a senior research fellow at the Millport Marine Station, and previously Director of Conservation with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Both Directors have considerable experience of marine biological research and conservation projects stretching back over nearly 40 years and have Adjunct Professorships at Heriot-Watt University.

Save Our Seas Foundation was founded in 2003 as a non-profit organization with offices in Genève, Jeddah, Dubai, Miami, Cape Town and Edinburgh. It undertakes and supports conservation and research projects concerned with endangered marine species and habitats -- notably sharks, marine turtles and coral reefs. It operates two shark centres (for educating and research) one in Kalk Bay near Cape Town and the other in Fort Lauderdale. Shark species which are the subject of research projects include great white shark, common tiger shark, bull shark, basking sharks, silky shark, blue shark, whale shark and grey reef shark, and work on cetaceans ranging in size from the blue whale to the dolphin is also being supported. Conservation, Awareness, Research and Education are the four principals at the heart of the foundations mission. See www.saveourseas.com.

Overseas Territory Environment Programme is a joint programme of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development; its aim is to support country governments in the implementation of their Environmental Charters, as well as more generally address environmental management issues. In particular, OTEP supplies funding for projects concerned with the conservation of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, and the mitigation of pollution and waste problems. See www.ukotcf.org.

Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) is a scientific research and education organization based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the Oceanographic Center of Nova Southeastern University. GHRI was established in 1999 as a collaboration between Dr. Guy Harvey and NSU's Oceanographic Center to provide scientific information on the world's fish resources and biodiversity to enhance their conservation. For more information, please visit www.nova.edu/ocean/ghri/




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