Sinking of 13-foot sculpture to commemorate Divetech’s 20th anniversary and dedicated to ocean conservation
The “Guardian of the Reef” a mythological creature half ancient warrior, half seahorse is poised to become the newest star of Cayman’s dive scene and a beacon for marine conservation. The 13-foot sculpture, commissioned by Divetech owners Jay and Nancy Easterbrook from Canadian artist Simon Morris, will be sunk in January as an artificial reef and underwater attraction to launch a 12-month celebration of Divetech’s 20th anniversary. The Guardian will take up his sentry post on a sandy flat in 65 feet of water just off Lighthouse Point on the island’s northwest point where, Nancy Easterbrook says, he should feel right at home.
“We have a little pod of seahorses out front, so he’ll fit right in, I’m very excited about that,” she says.
The top half of the sculpture is a guardsman wearing Greco-Roman armor and carrying a circular shield and a staff and sphere. His helmet is a stylized sea horse head, and a dorsal fin protrudes from the back of his breastplate. At the waist, the creature morphs into a seahorse with a tail coiled around a bronze ring mounted on a 4’ bronze column. The Guardian will be perched on a 4-foot concrete pedestal that will raise him to 17 feet and help the sculpture become part of the reef.
“The concrete pedestal will attract underwater life almost immediately and we’ll see coral and sponges begin to grow on the base,” says Jay Easterbrook.
The Easterbrooks say the Guardian will help focus attention on ocean conservation during the yearlong anniversary celebration.
“We’ll host a reception and have champagne to mark the occasion, but instead of offering the traditional anniversary discounts at Divetech, we are introducing an initiative to raise money for an ocean conservation program to educate school children in Grand Cayman about our marine resources,” says Nancy Easterbrook.
One dollar from every dive made on the Guardian will go to the conservation education program, and the goal is to raise $20,000 the first year. Donations will also be accepted for the cause, and Jay and Nancy Easterbrook say this initiative may be extended after the year is up and the celebration is over. Divetech began offering dive services on Grand Cayman in 1994 and has always been a champion for Cayman’s underwater world.
“I think its appropriate and it has meaning,” says Nancy Easterbrook, of the conservation initiative and the Guardian. “After this longevity, it gives Divetech a chance to give back to community.”
The artist, Simon Morris is the creator of the famous mermaid sculptures “the Emerald Princess” and “Amphitrite” placed underwater in British Columbia and Grand Cayman for the enjoyment of divers. “Amphitrite” has become world famous and it’s a safe bet that the “Guardian of the Reef” will attract his share of attention – all positive and for a good cause.
“The Guardian of the Reef was inspired by the fact that I could provide a focal point for divers to understand and appreciate that the ocean is a gift to us from our ancestors, and a responsibility to pass on in a healthy state to our descendants,” says Morris. “All the world’s reefs need protection and guardianship and if we don’t do it, who will? It’s my greatest hope that the Guardian will start discussions around the world of the need for environmental awareness of the fragile marine environment, not just with divers, but with everyone.” www.sculptorsimonmorris.com
The bronze sculpture is currently being cast in an American foundry, and his journey to the Caribbean will begin at the end of October. The sculpture will make an interim stop in Orlando, FL where he will be unveiled at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Show, who is sponsoring the showing at DEMA. The Guardian will become the latest entry in DEMA’s DiveCaching initiative.
The Guardian will arrive in Grand Cayman in November, and the Easterbrooks plan to have him on display at Divetech’s facility at Lighthouse Point for guests and residents. Pending approval of permits from the government’s Ministry of the Environment the plan is to sink the Guardian some time in mid January and the anniversary celebration will begin.
“The Guardian looks like a salty old dog and he’ll be out there protecting the reef,” says Nancy Easterbook. “He’s very symbolic – a tangible, physical creature, half man, half fish. I think he’s a cool-looking dude with his seahorse tail.”
Divetech is a IANTD Platinum Facility / TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer Facility / PADI 5-Star Resort / PADI TecRec Facility / PADI Project Aware Center / SSI Resort / IANTD & SSI Free Diving Center / BSAC Resort / National Geographic Center/ Scuba Rangers Club / Universal Training Facility / PADI Swim School / DAN Technical Field Research Station full service dive operator with facilities at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort on the tranquil Northwest shore of Boatswain’s Bay, and Lighthouse Point on Northwest Point Road, both located in West Bay just a few miles north of the hustle and bustle of Seven Mile Beach. Considered one of Grand Cayman’s leading dive operations, Divetech has been providing quality dive services since 1994, and it has earned a reputation as the place to go in Grand Cayman for quality training from kids to trimix with 18 Instructors on staff. Divetech is Green Globe Certified and is a recipient of the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2012 and the PADI Green Star Award. Divetech offers great dive and room packages with its resort partner Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, which has established a reputation for laid back luxury and friendly West Indian hospitality, offering 20 suites and villas, full restaurant and bar, pool and award winning customer service. For more information call toll free (888) 946-5656, in Grand Cayman (345) 946-5658 or visit www.divetech.com.