Little Cayman 2016
Diving with Heroes sponsored six disabled veterans to travel to Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands to add their military background-honed skills to support on-going marine conservation and research efforts in 2016.
Hosted by the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, the DWH hero divers and four volunteer divers cleaned the underwater coral reef nursery, slung Hawaiian slings on two lionfish culling dives, and conducted one lionfish census dive.
“Having the DWH group here was fantastic,” said Peter Quilliam, CCMI’s Field Station Manager. “They were so enthusiastic, doing everything from scrubbing coral pieces in our underwater nursery to culling lionfish, to helping our research staff on their research projects.”
Many wounded or injured veterans, besides suffering their injuries, often feel rudderless after being evacuated from their unit. They no longer have a battle buddy (you watch over them as they watch over you, each making sure the other has all the proper gear for whatever situation they may find themselves) and they no longer are part of group with an overarching mission. This DWH excursion attempts to replicate both.
“Each diver is assigned a dive buddy for the week, making them responsible for checking each other’s gear, working on projects together, even cleaning up after each meal together,” said Jill Hottel. “We also begin the trip by discussing the mission and measures for success. For this excursion, it was to assist the researchers, clean the underwater nursery and hunt lionfish, an invasive species of poisonous fish.”
In addition to 11 logged dives, the hero divers were licensed by the Cayman Islands Department of Environment to hunt lionfish and certified in PADI’s Coral Conservation and Fish Identification Specialties.
DWH Beneficiaries: Brenda Hawkes, Aaron Kirzner, Ken Shere and Sergio Trejo.
Returning Alumni: Dani Figueroa, Rob Howington and Matt Staton (as a DWH volunteer).