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Ocean Frontiers Cayman Islands Blog for scuba divers and those who love the underwater world.

20 Years of Diving Cayman's Frontier 1996-2016

20 Years of Diving Cayman's Frontier 1996-2016
Two decades of diving on the frontier of Grand Cayman's East End has been an incredible journey, only made possible by our loyal customers.  We have acheived many milestones over the last twenty years and are excited about what the future holds above and below the surface over the next 20 years.    In 1996 we opened our doors as the only independant dive operator servicing the East End of Grand Cayman.  Until 1996, the only other way to dive the East End was to stay at either the Dive Lodge or the Tortuga Club.   It wasn't possible to stay on the West side and dive the East End - this is how Ocean Frontiers got its start.  With our brand new dive boat, Nauti-Cat, an old Cayman style building for our dive shop and a big 9 seater Dodge van, we had our very first customer on Valentines day,...
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How Green are your shorts?

How Green are your shorts?
Ocean Frontiers staffers in company teal green swim shorts are a familiar fixture on Grand Cayman’s remote East End, manning the dive shop at the Compass Point Dive Resort or driving the dive boats and guiding dives. Those signature Ocean Frontiers green shorts have become a “hot ticket” item and status symbol among the company’s die-hard customers. Guests can win their own pair of green shorts if they dive all 55 dive sites at East End first – it’s called the “Green Shorts Challenge”. “My goal in starting the challenge was to get my customers interested in the diversity of diving on this side of the island because I thought some of them weren’t seeing it,” says Steve Broadbelt, co-owner of Ocean Frontiers. “This is a motivation for them and it’s working.” “I have completed the Green Shorts Challenge - as a matter of fact, I’ve completed the 55 dives twice...
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1000 Scuba Divers Strong

1000 Scuba Divers Strong
1,000 Scuba Divers Strong, helped cull 10,000 invasive lionfish from our reefs since 2011. The names of those who helped are preserved in art to mark this environmental milestone during Earth Week. On behalf of Ocean Frontiers Ltd., Thank You!    The Art work was created by Diana Debaja and uses all of the names of those who have participated in our 1-tank or 3-tank Lionfish culls and tournaments. Spearers, Spotters and Containment Device holders are all recognised in this master peice.  If your name is here, you have done your part to help the environment and we hope you continue to help with this important work.    We recommend you download the original art file and zoom in to help find your own name - on average it is taking about 45 minutes to 'find yourself'.    Click Here for Download Link 
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The Lionfish Kings of Grand Cayman's East End

The Lionfish Kings of Grand Cayman's East End
Steve Broadbelt and his team at Ocean Frontiers have culled 10,000 Lionfish from East End reefs; Chef Ron Hargrave has purchased a total of 6000 pounds of the predators to cook up in delectable local dishes “Lionfish are beautiful, resilient and strong – a cool fish - but they are deadly to our reefs and if we don’t stop them something bad is going to happen,” says Matt Russell a dive instructor at Ocean Frontiers who has watched the invasion with deep concern for the marine environment. Russell is a dedicated, educated and skilled warrior in the fight against the Lionfish, consistently culling large numbers on dives – a record 56 Lionfish during a 2-tank dive.  He's also a member of the very exclusive "30 Club" whose members have removed 30 or more Lionfish on a single dive.  Matt also teaches customers how to safely and humanely remove the invasive species...
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Cayman a great destination for Macro Photography

Cayman a great destination for Macro Photography
Recognized for its stellar diving with dramatic underwater scenery and big marine life, Cayman is also home to tiny and photogenic marine critters – but you must look closely Under the calm, clear and shallow water of the Cayman Islands, virtually undiscovered, is a thriving world of tiny sea creatures that are no larger than a grain of rice – a wondrous variety of nudibranchs (soft seagoing slugs), indigenous worms, rare shrimp and critters yet to be found. This curious realm has mostly been overshadowed by Cayman’s large-scale dive experiences − dramatic drop-offs, striking wrecks, friendly stingrays – all prime photo subjects that continuously draw underwater photographers from all over the world. Were it not for avid diver underwater sleuth and photographer Everett Turner, a part-time resident of Grand Cayman, this vibrant “super macro” kingdom of underwater life might still be unknown. In 2012 Turner, his wife Essi Evans and friend...
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Ocean Frontiers Rated one of the World’s Best Dive Operations

Ocean Frontiers Rated one of the World’s Best Dive Operations
Ocean Frontiers, dive operator at the Compass Point Resort on Grand Cayman’s remote East End, was rated one of the world’s Best Dive Operations, and tops in Cayman, by Scuba Diving readers in the 2014 Top 100 Gold List Awards. The Cayman Islands were rated No. 1 for Best Overall Destination in the Caribbean and Atlantic. The magazine polls its readers every year and asks thousands of subscribers to rate their dive experiences in a variety of categories. “We’re excited and honored by this recognition because it comes from experienced divers who know first-hand the excellent diving we offer,” says co-owner Steve Broadbelt. “They are telling us that we do a good job – this makes me very proud of our dive staff because they work very hard.” Broadbelt shared the good news during a staff meeting in early January, and it added extra cheer to the morning dive boats. Dive...
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Grouper Moon Project Strives to Save the Endangered Nassau Grouper

Grouper Moon Project Strives to Save the Endangered Nassau Grouper
During the coming winter full moon, in late January and early February, the normally solitary and territorial Nassau grouper will travel a long way to gather at spawning sites. Watching the activity carefully (as they have been doing for more than a decade) will be marine scientists and researchers of the Grouper Moon Project, a collaboration of the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE) and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). The Grouper Moon Project had its beginnings in 2002 after an estimated 2000 fish were taken from the unprotected Little Cayman site. To reduce fishing pressure and allow the Department of Environment to monitor the site, Cayman’s Marine Conservation Board implemented an alternate-year fishing strategy. In 2003 based on Nassau grouper population numbers, the decision was made to impose an 8-year ban on fishing the aggregations. The ban was extended in late 2011 and is set to expire in 2019....
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Silver Rush Diving - Cayman Summer Time!

Silver Rush Diving - Cayman Summer Time!
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – During the Summer when the coastal waters warm up, swarms of Atlantic Silversides, small schooling fish, pack Grand Cayman’s meandering reef caves, caverns and swim-throughs lit up by beams of streaming sunlight. It’s a seasonal migration that creates a unique dive experience eagerly anticipated by local divers, photographers and dive companies. The arrival time of the silversides, length of stay and the multitude of fish vary from year to year, but typically the schools are enormous. At peak times silversides completely fill the caverns and gullies of specific dive sites like Grouper Grotto and Snapper Hole, delighting divers who swim through the silver masses. “It is an amazing experience to dive in the silversides,” says prominent underwater photographer and marine biologist Dr. Alex Mustard. “I love it and when there are huge schools filling the caverns and canyons on the reefs I will spend my entire...
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New Aerial Image Base Map for East End

New Aerial Image Base Map for East End
For all you map geeks, this day could not come soon enough.  For the last 7 years we've had 2006 image data on Google Maps and Google Earth.  This image data is an extremely helpful resource for finding new dive sites and most recently, helping us track and log all of our Lionfish culling results.  The new base map also includes Compass Point Phase 2 and the new Hospital site in the Cottage village.  The Morritt's boat dock is also shown as complete and everything else just looks more up to date and greener.   Take some time and nose around on your virtual helicopter tour.  Some of the images are so clear, you can even pick out the mooring balls on the dive sites.  Let us know if you find anything interesting...
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You Have Reached Your Destination...

You Have Reached Your Destination...
Garmin GPS Street Map Navigation in Grand Cayman, just WORKS! Even with turn-by-turn directions.  The exact same GPS unit I've been using whenever I travel to the USA, served up a new challenge for me over the last 2 weeks- I wanted to see if I could get lost on a small island, as if it was my first time visiting.  The results were- I couldn't!  The very basic Garmin dashboard mounted GPS unit I have is nothing short of brilliant for visitors in Grand Cayman. I know this is old news for the rest of the world, but little ole Cayman often gets left out from technological marvels such as these. I have even witnessed losing reservations for Ocean Frontiers and Compass Point Dive Resort over concerns of getting lost. For some potenial guests, their idea of a vacation does not include driving on the left in a foreign country with no...
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Cheeseburger in Paradise

Cheeseburger in Paradise
I am told i throw like a girl, but even i could hit Compass Point's new restaurant/pub with a pebble from my balcony. Not that i would want to. Eagle Ray's opening is imminent. Stand by for news.
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Shimmering Silverside Splendor

Shimmering Silverside Splendor
Honestly there are 100 good reasons not to leave the secluded splendor of East End when you come to Grand Cayman for a dive trip. Better diving, fewer boats competing for mooring balls, better chance to see sharks, the ever lovable crew at Ocean Frontiers, and as far away from cruise ship folderol as you can get and still be on the same island. But every now and then, one is tempted to head in the direction of Seven Mile Beach. Shore diving is one of those temptations. Right now, Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto (about a 45 minute drive from Ocean Frontiers) are jammed with silversides – those dense clouds of mixed juvenile fish that shimmer and shape-shift before your very eyes. Both shore dives begin at Eden Rock Dive Center, right next to the cruise ship terminal. Both involve a decent surface swim but nothing you can’t handle. And...
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A Community Worthy of Renown

A Community Worthy of Renown
David Meerman Scott knows marketing. His immensely readable and intelligent books have provided critical guidance to countless people whose job it is to communicate for a living, myself included. So when a man of Scott’s caliber has this to say about Ocean Frontiers and about our own Steve Broadbelt, it should not be taken lightly: “I'm so impressed with how Steve Broadbelt, managing director at Ocean Frontiers builds both online and offline customer relationships with his scuba diving clients, that I interviewed him so you can hear in his own words.” You can watch the interview with Steve by clicking here. I am proud to say I introduced Scott to Ocean Frontiers at a marketing conference, where I was presenting Steve’s Green Shorts Challenge as a model of smart social media.  Scott wrote this about the challenge. But he did more than write. Last week he and his daughter came to the...
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June in Cayman

June in Cayman
As summer shifts into high gear, here are five things June visitors to Compass Point Dive Resort can look forward to, both on and off the water        Water temps in the low to mid 80s means you can leave the neoprene at home.  Dive skins and rash guards are all most of us need to scuba when the water is this warm. The Ocean Frontiers shop has some nice rash guards if you’re in the market.         Eagle Ray’s Opening. Tell me this has never happened to you: You had a four-dive day, you’re starving but also exhausted and you haven’t been to the grocery yet. A beer and a burger are now only steps away as Eagle Ray’s opens for business, on the main pool deck in front of the dive shop. If they have an espresso machine I will be in complete heaven.  ...
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Why I Dive...

Why I Dive...
Personally, life divides neatly into two unequal parts. There’s diving and there’s surface intervals. Mine is not a unique addiction. One of my favorite things about Ocean Frontiers & Compass Point Dive Resort is the familiar faces one sees on the dive boat on visit after visit.  There’s an unstated understanding among many if not most divers that diving is not optional – it’s an essential part of what makes us happy. What is it about scuba diving, and specifically diving the East End of Grand Cayman that is so compelling? Is it the sensation of weightless as one drifts slowly from the boat to the reef? Is it the phantasmagoric world that slowly comes into focus as one drifts down like a leaf in an autumn breeze? Is it a moment of awe and wonder with a shark or a spotted eagle-ray or a turtle? Is it the silence, the...
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A Perfect Dive With....

A Perfect Dive With....
A Perfect Dive with…Dive Instructor Brittainy Slade. Dive site: Grouper Grotto / Boat: Nauticat  /  Date: May 19, 2013.  There are ample reasons why Grouper Grotto is among the most requested shallow sites in Grand Cayman. Every visit offers variations on a theme of coral reef magic.  While groupers are ironically not among the most frequent sights, the grotto part is guaranteed. The site is a spider web of archways, canyonways and swim-throughs. As we passed through one 30-foot canyon, shafts of light passed through cracks overhead, creating a cathedral-like effect. Huge silver tarpon hung almost motionless above us. Time seemed to stand still. In one of the larger canyons we were thrilled to find a cloud of silversides. Bar jacks and tarpon dashed in and out of the cloud in search of an easy meal. Silversides sometimes school in such dense concentrations, your visibility can fall to zero for a moment...
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3-Tank Safari v3.0

3-Tank Safari v3.0
We’re at it again with an all new take on an Ocean Frontiers’ original, the 3-Tank Safari. As if diving all 55 dive sites on Grand Cayman’s East End wasn’t enough, we’ve always enjoyed pushing the frontier and taking our customers to dive sites they have never seen before. Originally the 3-Tank Safari consisted of a ‘Best of Cayman’ kind of experience with a fixed itinerary of dive sites, including: Babylon, Stingray City and Snapper Hole (weather permitting). As our repeat business built, the interest to include a Stingray scuba dive in the trip was shrinking and at that point we took a new direction. The trip then changed to 3 ‘real’ dive sites, all of which were outside of the East End dive zone, at new sites along the north wall. The revised 3-Tank also only ran in the summer when the dive conditions were more reliable and favorable for...
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What's Yellow and we all live in...?

What's Yellow and we all live in...?
What's yellow, 22 feet long, weighs 16,000 lbs and can dive to 1000 feet.... and is sitting in front of Ocean Frontiers dive shop?  Yes, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, we all live in a yellow submarine.  The former PC-1203 Perry Class deep submersible has found a new home at Ocean Frontiers. The collectors item was planned to be be melted down for scrap metal, when Ocean Frontiers co-founder, Steve Broadbelt, had a better idea.  "Even though the dive shop is located on the main road, many of our customers would just drive on by without noticing us, that will now change" states Broadbelt.  The fully intact, retired sub now sits right in front of the dive shop for all passersby to see.  The ultimate 'Yard Art' for any diver is likely to become a land mark in the East End district and Ocean Frontiers driving directions will change forever; "Keep...
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Turtle Nesting Season

Turtle Nesting Season
May to November is turtle nesting season, when sea turtles emerge from the sea at night, lay their eggs in the sand, and return to the water. Historically, four sea turtle species were found in the Cayman Islands: green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and as shown in the photo, loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles. Green turtle nesting populations are believed to have been the largest in the Atlantic (numbering in the many millions), and the other species were also abundant. After discovery, commercial harvesting by visiting ships led to a massive reduction and by the mid-1900s our sea turtle populations were thought to be extinct. Since 1998, the Cayman Islands Department of Environment has been conducting a systematic survey of the beaches of the Cayman Islands to identify signs of turtle nesting. The first years of monitoring showed that leatherback nesting was indeed locally extinct, and likely lost to...
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Lionfish Culling - Hurts to Help

Lionfish Culling - Hurts to Help
Beautiful, deadly and a threat to our reefs. That’s all you need to know about the Red Lionfish (Pterois Volitans), an indo Pacific fish that has become a menace in Cayman waters. First observed near Palm Beach in 1992, Lionfish populations have now spread throughout the Caribbean and constitute a major threat to coral reef health. The first Lionfish was seen in Cayman waters in 2008 on Little Cayman; now they are everywhere. Ocean Frontiers spotted the first Lionfish in East End on the 18th January 2009 on the dive site, Fantasea Land. Lionfish are voracious eaters. More than 50 species of reef fish have been found in lionfish stomachs. One researcher observed one lionfish eat 20 small wrasses in a 30-minute period. Studies show that unchecked, these invasive predators could reduce reef diversity by as much as 80 percent. That is why we have no choice but to cull as...
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