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TCI: Restored Smith’s Reef Snorkel Trail Reopens with Welcome Renovations for Improved Marine Education, Life and Livelihoods

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#TurksandCaicos, June 10, 2021 – Turks and Caicos Islands, June 9, 2021 – The breathtaking sights of the underwater ecosystems at the Smith’s Reef Snorkel Trail are all set to be explored by local communities, students, and international guests thanks to rehabilitative work funded by the Sandals Foundation to ensure the protection of the enchanting marine life, the safety of snorkelers and the sustained livelihood of those who earn a living from using the nearby boating channel.

On Tuesday June 8, in commemoration of World Oceans Day, the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources proudly reopened the more than 20 year old near shore trail after implementing upgrades valued at just under US $30,000 from the Sandals Foundation.

Restoration works included the cleaning and continued maintenance of existing snorkel trail markers, installation of beach signage and marker buoys around the snorkel site, introduction of swim zone lines outside the snorkel area to prevent snorkelers from accidentally entering the boating channel, and the provision of signs and other collateral noting guideline for reef etiquette.

Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation was pleased to see the reopening of the iconic site, bringing with it opportunities for sustained education and economic exploration.

“The new underwater trail signs will add to the rich educational experience of students and local community members who’ll be able to develop a deeper appreciation for and understanding of how they too can help protect the beautiful natural resources,” said Clarke.

The site’s reopening is even more significant, Clarke continued, as the theme for this year’s World Oceans Day, “Connects the importance of the Ocean to what we know all too well as Caribbean nationals – our lives and livelihoods. The marine space is part of our identity as a region and we are very happy to have this beautiful snorkel site reopened with restored amenities to not only protect the natural ecosystems that are present but also the life and livelihoods of persons who share in its resources.”

Alizee Zimmermann, Executive Director at the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund expressed gratitude to the Sandal’s Foundation for the Smith’s Reef restoration works funded.

“Smith’s Reef is an iconic off-shore snorkel site enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The restoration efforts have created a safe space for snorkelers, alerting them to where the boat channel begins through the addition of a swim zone line. Additionally, the snorkel ring itself serves to keep people off of the shallow, fragile areas of the reef, protecting our vulnerable corals all the while taking the snorkeller on an informational tour through the placement of underwater trail markers. The beach signs and waterproof but recyclable maps will make this a fun, educational and memorable experience for all.”

Turks & Caicos is home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world with more than a million travelers venturing to the island each year to explore the wonders of the marine space.

Speaking at the Trail’s brief reopening ceremony executed under strict safety protocols, General Manager at Beaches Turks and Caicos, James McAnally beamed that, “As the island’s tourism industry continues its upward trajectory, the newly reopened snorkel site will be a welcome addition to marine adventure seekers.”

McAnally added, “Many guest travel here to enjoy the vibrant aquatic life and that’s why the Sandals Foundation, Turks and Caicos Reef Fund and Beaches Turks and Caicos believe this restoration project will enhance the sea life activity and options for both residents and tourists.”

Coral reefs are threatened throughout the Caribbean and the tropical Atlantic. Near shore reefs are particularly valuable assets as they allow visitors a one of a kind opportunity to easily access and learn about the wondrous ecosystem. Renovations of the Smith’s Reef Snorkel Trail began in late 2019 but had numerous setbacks due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project continues the longstanding partnership between the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund and the Sandals Foundation who have over the years implemented a number of activities towards the sustained conservation of the island’s marine spaces.

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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