Alarm raised over cave threat

| 16/02/2012

cave (253x300).jpg(CNS): The revelation that some of Cayman’s most sensitive cave systems are to be developed into a tourist attraction has caused considerable alarm, and it also appears that the developer does not have planning permission for the work he has started at the site. Pictures circulating online this week showing heavy machinery in one of the North Side caves raised a number of questions as neither the National Trust or the Department of Environment have been consulted about the clearance work which appears to have started on an as yet undisclosed project. The director of planning told CNS yesterday that the department had been informed about the work and was now making enquiries at the site.

“We have become aware of this situation and a compliance officer has been dispatched to investigate. I am awaiting his report to determine a future course of action,” Haroon Pandohie stated via e-mail in response to CNS enquiries.

The National Trust has also confirmed that, despite being an immediate neighbour to the property the land owner intends to develop, it has not been informed about the planned project. At the time of issuing a statement yesterday afternoon the National Trust for the Cayman Islands said it had not received any notification from the Department of Planning regarding the North Side property where the caves which appear to be under development are located. 

“The Trust expects to have received such notification prior to the commencement of any form of development given that the Trust’s Mastic Reserve is adjacent to this property, and landowners are legally required to notify adjacent property owners of their intent to develop their property,” the Trust stated.

cave - Copy.jpgIt went on to explain the sensitivity of the area and why people were right to be concerned as three species of bats have been recorded roosting in the large cave which was shown on the photographs that circulated this week. (Click photo to see larger image)

“Two of these species are considered quite rare, and are verysusceptible to disturbance by the presence of humans.  For this reason, among others, these caves have been recognized as an environmentally sensitive area,” the Trust said.

“One of the first objectives in any plan for protecting a sensitive natural area is to identify stakeholders in order to seek their input.  As a key stakeholder, the National Trust has not been approached regarding the recent undertakings and is not aware of any other stakeholders who have been contacted.

“Although at present Environmental Impact Assessments are not legally required for the development of any environmentally sensitive area in the Cayman Islands, such assessments are accepted as best practice in the vast majority of developed countries.  Such an Assessment will objectively rate the value of the unmodified site as compared with the value of proposed enhancements to accurately inform the development process along with the relevant stakeholders,” the National Trust added.

The Department of the Environment also appears to have been left in the dark over the cave plans. Gina Ebanks-Petrie, the department’s director, told CNS that the DoE met with the developer of the proposed attraction a few years ago and advised him to take a low-impact, environmentally sensitive approach to the development of the site.

“In relation to the current activity on the site, the DoE has not been requested for input on any planning application seeking approval for the access road or the excavation that has apparently taken place in the caves,” she added.

Ebanks-Petrie sent a memo to the chief officer in the financial services department almost two years ago after the department had received a project proposal from Crystal Caves to develop a natural tourism attraction and forest preserve. in it the DoE noted a number of concerns, in particular the sensitivity of caves to disturbance from visitors. It advised the developer to establish a maximum visitor number that the cave system could sustain rather than financial based targets of visitor numbers, which the DoE said were not only overly optimistic but unsustainable.

The DoE was also concerned about the developer’s proposal to put in a 30 foot road, which the department advised against and asked him to consider a far narrower road that ended some distance from the caves which visitors would then access via a pathway.

It is not clear exactly what the developer, Christian Soresen, has in mind for the project though he dismissed accusations that he planned to develop a nightclub, bar or restaurant at the site in an interview Wednesday evening with Cayman27.  However, Soresen had applied for a liquor license for the caves during the moratorium on licenses in January last year but the board has not yet responded to CNS enquiries to state whether or not the license was approved.

With no national conservation law on the books, the only legal sanction to prevent the land owner from developing these caves are the planning laws. There is no requirement in law for him to develop in a way which would fit with the internationally accepted description of eco-tourism, which seeks not to disturb but sustain and support the environment in its natural state.

The excavation work in the caves may, according to some experts, already have destabilized the sensitive eco-systems and affected the bats that call the caves home.

The Cayman Islands indigenous and native bats are all at risk and none of them are protect in law. However the National Trust Bat Conservation Programme and its volunteers works tirelessly to try and protect these incredible animals and offers a wealth of expertise on the various species, their natural habitats and unique biodiversity of the areas where they roost.

Go to www.nationaltrust.org.ky/environment/bats for more information.
 

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (118)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "Ebanks-Petrie sent a memo to the chief officer in the financial services department (sic – should be ministry)" That was Carson Ebanks at that time. I would bet 5 tons of bat doo-doo that Gina never got a response to that memo other than (if she was very very privileged) a brief acknowledgement. But I would bet 1 ton of doo-doo she didn't even get that. As an ex civil servant, I know how certain of these highly paid civil servants operate -ignore it if you haven't got an answer or the will to discuss the issue and hope that it will go away. No one will hold you accountable so you're ok!

  2. 5 Year Plan says:

    I am here to make money and then go home to civilization.  I don't care about this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hopefully you are nearing the end of your stay.  Expat.

    • Profound Reality! says:

      But whhhhyyyyy?.. We are building a new road, and O look over here, we are building a port of some kind, and over here, abra kadabra new schools for your children, look e over here, lots of liquor,yum yum. Why!Why!Why! I dont get it, Dart and Bush promised we'd get to keep you, whyyyyyyy!!!!!!! How about free status, dont gooooooooooooo!!!!!!

      Lol, but for real , grow up! civilised world you got there taught you some real ignorant ways! Enjoy our money and beaches!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are serious then get the heck out of the country and leave your job to someone who does care.

  3. CAYMAN CAVES says:

    Cayman Caves are very good for the Island when there is a Hurricane, and I will explain why.  When Ivan hit the Cayman Islands in 2004, the news that went world wide was, that all was lost and the Island was covered with water.  That was so very true, but guess what a few hours after the storm had passed,, on the lips of every one was"Where did the wather go?"

    The water escaped through many caves and holes in the ground. Cayman Islands have numerous Caves, one almost in every back yard, that we do not know about it.  A few years ago I was digging a hole in my yard to build a tank when low and behold clear like crystal water just sprung out from a rock bed.  When furhter inspection of this water lens it was discovered that a Cave about 20 feet or more, so beautiful, so serene as far as the eye could see was  filled with the clearest and cleanest  water you ever want to see.   I just sat and looked at it for hours, besides it tasted fresh..  I wished I could have just left it opened there, however I closed  the overfflow side, but every time I walk in my yard, I remember what is under there.

    I would love to see caves taken care of and preserved and kept very clean, because they are, a part of our heritage.

    If a persons is going to do something nice in preserving a cave and making it clean and beautiful, I am totally for it.  I really prefer that than having caves left dirty.  Caves are very interesting, I have been in a few.

    • El Papa says:

      'If a persons is going to do something nice in preserving a cave and making it clean and beautiful, I am totally for it. I really prefer that than having caves left dirty.'

       

      The only 'clean cave' I have ever seen featured guides that dressed up as pirates with lanterns, plastic treasure chests strategically placed and 'genuine' souvenirs made in China.

      The experience was painful, the dialogue and knowledge exchanged by the guides appeared to be learnt by wrote and gained from the internet.

      The short 'train' ride back to the entrance was possibly the most enjoyable experience out of the whole trip and all I could hope was that the film called 'The Descent' was in fact, real.

      This idea for Northside Caves is possibly the most ridiculous and moronic scheme that has ever surfaced.

      That is quite an impressive title as there seems to be more and more of these ideas surfacing daily, despite attempts to keep them out of the public eye.

       

  4. Anonymous says:

    If you think cleaning out a cave is bad, take a flight over the Central Mangrove, and you'll see that a multi-acre 'T'  has been bulldozed in its heart,  without planning permission.  Any development will probably start with a quarry, I imagine, and if it gets the go-ahead, it'll be open season on the Central Wetlands thereafter.

     

    Visitors fall in love with our landscapes. They can't understand why Caymanians view undeveloped land  as an enemy  to be crushed. I presume it's because life here was very hard, and  they look at things differently. Land is their heritage that gives them security, and no government has ever been strong enough to introduce even the mildest conservation law. Cayman Brac, as far as I can tell, has no development plan whatsoever, and they like it that way. 

    In the Brac, a plague of criss-crossing roads is rapidly fragmenting the ancient forests, and much of  the iconic landscape around the Bluff edges has been sub-divided and bulldozed. To visitors who love the Brac, this area should be turned into a national park. I guess one man's iconic landscape is another man's "useless, rocky bush.'

     

    In these recessionary times, conservationists have their hands tied, and must watch as unique, hundred-thousand-year-old  landscapes are destroyed forever.

     

    Conservation' is a dirty word in Cayman, coined by expatriates who are perceived as wanting to "take away" Caymanians' right to do whatever they want with their land, even though they should be holding it in trust for their descendants. Ah well! I suppose they'll have old, faded black-and-white photographs to shed a tear over one day, when all this diversity and beauty  have gone forever. And then they'll realize ruefully and too late, that crafty old Fidel, in his wisdom, created tens of thousands of acres of parks, that everyone wants to visit.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Ahhh one small matter.  Mr. Sorenson was not a born Caymanian and neither where his parents, but an expatriate. While he may be a Caymanian now by Status…perhaps like Mr. Dart (former expat from the USA or whereever) and Mr. Ryan (expat from Canada was it?)  I know that they both destroyed many acres of native Red Mangrove forest to build their personal monuments to themselves.

      You are a very foolish person if you belive that only Caymanian are capable of environmental destruction. You are even more foolish if you believe that expatriates are the only ones who preserve our environment.  Try turning on your TV, its all over the world. Have to taken a swim in the Themes in England or in the canals of Italy recently, my friend?  hummmm.  I have no idea what or where you are from, but I do not assume they are all like you.   I actually believe there are good and bad people in very country and culture.

      oh an have you forgotten that these people are born Caymanian with many generations of Caymanians behind them, who just so happen to care, love and do their best to protect our natural environment?

      Gina Ebanks-Petrie – head of DOE

      Carla Reid – Chairman of the National Trust

      Billy Adam – environmental advocate

      many others….

      Try getting out more and learing about who we were and are as Caymanians and stop passing judgement based on poor information.

      Caymanians for guilty of being TOOOOOO trusting, kind, patient and forgiving. That is what has this countury in the mess it is in today.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        19.32. Your points are very well taken, thank you, except for the bits about "getting out more" and being "a very foolish person!" As for "swimming in the Thames", I'd be mad to do so and would certainly freeze to death, but you've picked a bad examples, because the Thames and the canals of Venice are  infinitely cleaner now than they have been for two hundred years, in spite of the millions of people who live close by!

         

        Caymanians are in control of their country, no one else is, and they could have introduced protective laws at any time had they wanted to, in order to  prevent any one of your "expatriate" or Caymanian projects from unnecessarily destroying valuable ecosystems. The fact is that the worst punishment any eco-vandal can expect when acting without permission, is a friendly slap on the wrist. Landowners know this, which is why they often ignore both the Planning Department and  The Department of the Environment along with the intentionally weak laws that are in place.

         

        This lack of accountability is emphatically a result of the way that Caymanians like to do business. They like to make laws, but don't want to enforce them. They like to set up departments, and  then effectively castrate them by making sure the government minister responsible can push aside  their recommendations regardless. Tell me I'm wrong!

         

        The Brackers should never have allowed anyone, expatriate or Caymanian, to develop sections of  the Iconic Bluff edges or to destroy their ancient forests without planning permission, without any intention of construction, and without referring to strong environmental plan for the whole island. Carrying on like this is irresponsible, in my opinion, and a big price will be paid.

        As for distinguishing between Caymanians' and expatriates' desire to take care of the environment, perhaps you should get out more yourself, and attend the National Trust AGM, and you will see where the passion lies.  

         

         

  5. Anonymous says:

    when are they going to start excavating the LA Building of the bats that live in there!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey, just asking here, what say does my neighbour or anyone else have regarding what i do in my land? If the National Trust wants to preserve the caves, they should buy the land that the caves are on.

    • Judean People's Front says:

      Thank you for offering to re locate the dump from George Town to the nearest neighbouring site to your land.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      The National Trust can only purchase them if they were for sale.  I don't believe from what is being said by the developer that they are for sale.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        The central mangrove has been for sale for a very long time. I personnally have a piece for sale 100-150 acres for 2million a bargain price. The price will constantly go up each year that it is not sold. You or the the national trust have never came to me in the last 5 years. 

        You can pick choose or refuse but your group has been lying to the people in cayman. You  all dont want the land to sell because it means large acreage for very cheap prices once developed. YOU ALL WONT BE ABLE TO SELL YOUR LAND.

        Now that there is a new project in Northside and a developer who has a proven track record from Barbados the only thing you can try to stop the project with is BATS and that they can eat mosquitoes. How sad through jealousy and envy that we can not see or hear our lies. You mean to tell me with all the caves in grand cayman that this one cave cantbe a a new project to help the community of northside? Are you so educated that you have no compassion no heart no soul. Why is it that you people constantly argue conservation whenever there is a new project or development as long as it is not yours?

    • Diver says:

      What "say' does anyone has about what you do on your land? I do! Only someone with pretty narrow vision and a wide selfishness can ask such a question. According to you in my piece of land I could develop a chemical plant next to your house. Or perhaps install a 100 feet tall radio anthena. I may decide to put  Nude Resort  with a "Penis" shape pool. Perhaps I will go into farming and use pesticides that go in everyone's water table. Or finally can get my plastic sex toys factory with a tall exhaust chimmeny.

      Yes, what you do affect us all even if is your own land. And because of people that think like you and don't have a clear view of what is right or wrong, keeping the entire community and the entire country in mind when it comes to development, because of that we need the Conservation Law and several other development laws too. 

      I know this comes a bad news to you but, a country is not a "free for all". Your rights end where mine and the rest of the community's start. Owning your land gives you the righ to do whatever you want as long as the rest of us are not affected by your wrong decisions.

    • Anonymous says:

      The law requires that immediate neighburs/adjoining property owners be informed of any development. If the cave owner (Captain Caveman) failed to do this he has not followed the law.

       

  7. Just Sayin' says:

    Harrison's Cave in Barbados is a tacky tourist trap, which undoubtedly is the intent here, much like the Bodden Town pirate cave experience.

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      You are wrong you obviously haven 't been to the cave in barbados. My 80 year old father who has never been in a cave with mom and grand kids all went together. They had a good time they sat down and stopped at points of interest while recieving a guided tour through the cave. Pirates cave in Bodden town is completely different

  8. EYE ON ISLAND says:

    Get a temporary restraining order and ask that ALL attorney fees and cost be paid by the defendant. It's that simple. It is a matter of National Security.

    • BRAIN ON ISLAND says:

      national security?..yeah right, forgot…our air force bats are under threat. Your eye seems to focused on TV.  You people are really funny!!

  9. Slowpoke says:

    Bar, bats, restaurant, birds, nightclub, trees… Fire your PR team man.

    Tell the truth, that this is simply a new Church and Christian Heritage Park.  Admission is free to the public (except for the tithing thingy because, that is in writing of course).

    Problem solved!

    • Anonymous says:

      Once the test drilling is complete, the pipe line can be attached to the huge fig trees to be piped to the new oil refinery.

      Then we will allbe rich.

  10. What !!!! says:

    Cant wait to get to visit these caves, I am a cave LOVER been in many caves over on the Brac  I always heard about these caves in Noth side but never knew where they were. Got my cave lights and gear ready to roll.

    • Anonymous says:

      You won't be needing the lights and gear…

      If these caves are developed any way simliar to Harrison's cave all you will be needing is a $50 bill and a pair of flip-flops.

      Then enjoy the wonders of a cart ride through a pre-lit cave!

    • R.U. Kidden says:

      You won't need your gear or lights.  If this comes to pass, there will probably be a lighted  boardwalk with handrails and plenty of lights.  You should be against any cave transformation into any kind of tourist attraction (AKA tourist trap).

    • flash mob bob says:

      Keep your head torch handy and an ear to the ground.

  11. Dog gonna et yah suppah says:

    This whole project smells like guano to me.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The politicians want this. It’s good for the economy, because it’s good for tourism. The developer owns the land and appears to have owned it for 15 years. His father found and developed Harrison’s caves for the Bajan govt. So clearly this is has been his agenda for a hell of a long time. The folks who sold him the land knew it too. And clearly DoE and Nat Trust knew it too (I just confirmed from my family member, who was a Nat Trust board member several years ago, that he approached the Nat Trust at least 4 years ago asking for advice and assistance). He has had a liquor license for years, specifically for this project. It is pretty clear that everybody except the general public has known about this project for years. We all need to read between the lines and decide what that means. I am going to have an open mind and assume that he knows what he is doing and that government and other groups have realized that he knows how to do this as best it can be done, with minimum disturbance and maximum taste.
    Would you rather the land be subdivided it into house lots? Pretty sure that was the other option.
    I have been to these caves and seen that the existing method of preservation isn’t working. By which I mean, since the landowner cant afford to keep us out, every Tom, Dick and Harry and their friends, wander in there and leave garbage behind, light fires in the caves (surely the absolute best way to evict bats) and break stalactites off for souvenirs. Presumably he can justify securing the caves from this kind of abuse with a revenue stream.
    I am truly glad my land doesn’t have a cave on it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the soundbite from the PR Team but I still ain't buying into it!

      You can project to be as 'green' as you want but the international community only needs to research a few lines on various sites to see that the only 'green' motivator in the Cayman Islands are dollar bills!

       

    • Anonymous says:

      I bet you wish you did have a cave when you see the price of Guano!

      Google Guano exchange for the current spot price.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did your family member, who you say is a former member of the National Trust board, also tell you that the NT thought he could do it the best of anyone?  Sounds like someone is pulling the truth out of shape…

      You do know what they say about ASSume? right?

    • Right to roam says:

      I hope that the building does not impede any designated or established public rights of way or bridle way.

       

    • Michael Mouse says:

      And he waited until there was a government that had as a central policy obstructing environmental protection.

  13. Anonymous says:

    and you think Dart is the problem ?…………

  14. Anonymous says:

    Good Lord NO! A liquor license application for a cave attraction??? What utter greed!! I hope and trust that the members of the Liquor Licensing Board will never consider this application, no matter how much Complaints Commissioners approaches/tribunals, lawyer submissions, lawsuits, political pressure, etc., etc. they are subjected to.

    Then again, since our public coffers depend solely on fees and they will grab all that they can, through any avenue, I will not be surprised when Mr. Sorensen gets his license. 

    This one has to be the lowest of the low.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The tree huggers strikes again, come on now, be serious, digging out a cave??

  16. The Lorax says:

    Caymanwildlife.org has more detailed information about the three different bat species who use this cave, (The Big-eared Bat, the Free-tailed Bat and the Caribbean Fruit Bat) and explains why cave habitat conservation is so important on http://www.caymanwildlife.org/wildlife.shtml#bats – scroll down to the purple chart and click through to the species info and photos.   

     

  17. Anonymous says:

     

    Here's a good link on bat conservation.  Please note that it is from the UK.  bats.org.uk

     

     

  18. Anonymous says:

    None of our Ministers could care less about this, unfortunately. Ask the Minister for the Environment for a quote and you'll see he conveniently wont take the call

  19. Anonymous says:

    This was predicted approximately 18 months ago.

    I cannot say I am not surprised, however, I am equally shocked.

    Once every leaf, twig and piece of Iron shore has been sold out for a few more pieces of silver, the only thing left to sell will be people.

    I suspect that this is being considered too!

     

  20. nauticalone says:

    Guess he saw that Mike Ryan got away with clearing mangroves without permission?

    And that Govt. is not interested in passing the National Conservation Law.

    What's going to happen to him yah think?…that's right…not a thing!

    Let it have been a matter of a stick of ganja…then we would see Action!

  21. Green Hornet says:

    Every piece of environmental legislation that is in place anywhere in the world – and there's a whole lot of it, folks – protects environmentally sensitive areas. This is obviously one, and yet, as usual, we have incompetent and 19th Century focussed politicians who are more interested in protecting their bank accounts than the natural wonders of this tiny island. I think we need a new national motto:  "If you can't buy it or sell it – forget it."

  22. Anonymous says:

    Well I am a farmer and the more bats that disappear the happier I am. They simply destroy my crops.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Wasn't one of the arguments against the windfarm something about impact on the local bat population?

    Sounds like that problem's just been solved.  

  24. Anonymously!! says:

    This man have been trying to do this for years now, so he slips in ,in the dark of night and starts to destroy what little treasures we have left. Do you notice that the more moola these people have the more they want and they dont give a hoot who or what they destroy.

    A meeting must be held in north side and a petion to stop this.

  25. Richard N. Parson says:

    I am all for conservation of our unique environmental treasures.  These caves and their unique inhabitants are irreplaceable.  Hopefully the right thing will be done to preserve another wonderful natural habitat on beautiful Cayman.  If a tiny spec of land like Cayman does not recognize its own fragility, then soon the natural wonders of Cayman will become a thing of the past, a fading memory.  And I might mention that the lowly bats have a wonderful attribute.  They feast on mosquitoes.    I am all for killing mosquitoes, and saving the bats!

    • Buzzy says:

      Well I am for SAVING OUR MOSQUITOES! Columbus came and found them here and we should make sure they remain a part of our culture. MRCU should be ashamed of what they have done to them over the years. When I go outside now, rarely do I even feel one bite me.

      Those lovely little environmental treasures deserve as much respect as your lowly bats.

  26. Sam Putt Putt says:

    "And the morons shall inherit the earth," or at least here it seems. In my relatively short lifetime, I've lost track of the number of special places in the Cayman Islands that have been erased from the face of the Earth by developers with heavy equipment. The Trust should realize that the only effective way to protect these places is to buy them and "preserve them in perpetuity," for future generations. They've done it before as evidenced by the fact that the Mastic Trail is a neighbor of the cave property. So they should once again put away childish things, forget about the politicians ever passing sensible, responsible, and sustainable environmental legislation and again get down to the tedious and decidedly unfun work of raising money to acquire these places. The individuals who do this within the Trust will never be recognized for it unless of course it is to be cursed by developers and those civic leaders in their deep pockets. Thier only reward will be the knowlege that they helped save one or two of these places from the idiocracy which we have built for ourselves and whose master is the highest bidder.

    • Earth Angel says:

      The Trust's mission IS to preserve natural sites by way of perpetuity purchasing. In fact the Trust is the only organisation on island working to fulfill the preservation duties that are otherwise discharged by gov'ts of other countries. The Trust is a non-profit organisation and as we are all well aware it takes A LOT of money to purchase land in the Cayman Islands. It would be great if everyone concerned and commenting on this issue put as much energy into raising/donating funds/becoming a member of the National Trust.  Then it could accomplish even more preservation work than it already has which I understand is on par (and in some cases exceeds) comparable and larger countries.  It's time for all of us to put our money where our mouths are if we're really serious about saving Cayman.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I remember visiting this cave system as a young teacher back in the early 1970s; showed my class the pictures.  It is unfortunate that the land was never acquired by the Government and/or the National Trust.

    I'm very concerned that the owner did not  seek advise from the Department of Environment, National Trust and the Museum regarding how its natural and cultural heritage can be properly documented and preserved!  For example the 'muck' noted in the Cayman27news story might have fossil evidence of early flora and fauna and/or even point to Amerindian visits or settlement.  Hope the 'muck' is not ending up in someones garden as it could part of the history of the Cave and the Islands as a whole.  Yes, a Conservation Law is vital for these Islands in so many ways, especially with the current rate of development! 

    I visited Harrison's Cave in the early 80s and was quite impressed, however, parts of the cave was destroyed to make it accessible by the tram.   I really dislike the proposed name, Cayman Crystal Caves, as it is nothing like the real Crystal Caves in Mexico . . . but I guess they think it will sell better.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't get too sentimental please…these are merely holes caused by uneven erosion of water in our calcareous limestone base rock.

  28. I lived in Cayman when it was truly special says:

    I lived in Grand Cayman from 1980-1997. I recently told my husband that I was there when it was wonderful place. Low crime, happypeople, everyone who wanted to work was employed, no traffic and the list goes on. What the heck is happening? Don't call it progress as it seems to be more like greed by a handful of people.

    I'm so glad I have the memories of being at the Galleon Beach Hotel on a Sunday for the BBQ,  riding my bike down West Bay Road on a Sunday morning with few cars around, everyone excited because the Southward was in the harbour, didn't have to worry about locking doors. Oh, well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, Galleon barbecues are a wonderful memory but if you stayed here until 1997, you must have seen that Cayman had already startedgoing down the drain by that time unless you were living in an exclusive expat environment.

  29. Anon says:

    This cave system in North Side should be held in the same regard as Stingray City, the Botanic Park, and the Turtle Farm.  A historic site that celebrates Cayman's biodiversity, and the possbility to generate eco tourism to our island which is one of the fastest growing markets in the world.  Alot of people fail to see that this selfish move will affect ALL of us.  He is effectively ruining a piece of cayman that took thousands of year to become what it is today.    There needs to be a stop to this, and we all need to come together and demand a National Conservation Law NOW.  It has gone to far to keep ignoring the issue as our beautiful islands crumbles away and our children will not get to enjoy what we have growning up, which we are now taking for granted.  Shame on the indivduals who knew about this and didn't care enough to see past their own pockets and ego to make a different.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Typical of this place:  "We're going to develop eco-tourism and we're going to do it by killing every living thing and destroying every place of beauty and environmental value."  I'm really starting to get a 60's vibe here:  "Don't trust anyone over 30".

       

  30. Anonymous says:

    An extraordinary meeting of the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman was held on Friday, 14 January, at the Customs Headquarters in George Town.

     

    Here is what Mr. Christian Sorensen had to say

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Christian Sorensen of Cayman Crystal Caves was applying for a new provisional retail license.

    His idea was for Cayman cave tours — which he dubbed an “eco-tourism” and “eco-friendly” project — to also sell alcohol for consumption by tourists and locals.

    A representative of the Department of Tourism who was sitting on the board commended Mr. Sorensen on this particular venture, claiming that it was good for tourism, but he was concerned about safety issues.

    “I’ve had many meetings with the Department of the Environment and the National Trust, so we’re working on this,” said Mr. Sorenson.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    XXXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      "A representative of the Department of Tourism who was sitting on the board commended Mr. Sorensen on this particular venture, claiming that it was good for tourism, but he was concerned about safety issues."

      They should be ashamed.  This goes completely against their environmental efforts. The statement above is what horrifies me the most.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can someone please give us the name of this DOE rep and the entire quote from that person.

         

    • Anonymous says:

      Having a meeting does not mean the DOE and the National Trust gave him their blessing. Geezzz people…

  31. Anonymous says:

    Too much fuss about a pest anyway.  Who needs bats?  I bet the conservationists would soon change their minds when they have to clean the deep staining and corrosive excrement these disgusting creatures leave behind.  The man should be able to do what he wants with his land not what the do gooders and the NT want.  I suggest the NT buy it off him if they want to conserve it.

    • Anonymous says:

      You comments should be deleted due to lack of education of the person posting

    • Save the Bats says:

      Why would conservations want to clean the deep staining in the cave in the first place?  That is the most asine comment i've ever read.  The whole point of 'conserving' something is *leaving it alone*.  And in regards to your comment "Who needs bats", if you had half a brain you would educate yourself on the benefits of bats in our natural enviroment.  Here is an excerpt from the National Trust on the importance of bats in our environment: 

       in insect control, seed disbursal and pollination. They are considered to be a "keystone species" because plants that are dependant upon bats are vital to the survival of birds and other animals. These, in turn make their own contributions to balanced ecosystems. Most people credit bats with controlling mosquitoes, but insect-eating bats also eat many thousands of harmful beetles, grasshoppers, katydids, cockroaches, and moths and their larva every night.

      Congratulations on making yourself look like an idiot on the internet, you insensitive fool.

       

       

      • Anonymous says:

        I can't wait to bring customers to your caves sir. I know there will be need to have a new tourist attraction. The eastern districts have been looking for some of the business that has long been only in the western side of the island. That you have a liquor licence only makes it better.

        Do not let anyone tell you that the bats will leave. I have tried for 5 years to get rid of bats that came from bats cave on spotts beach and as everyone knows there is no construction going on there. After receiving a wooden bat house from bat conservationists i placed the bat house high in a tree and they left and came back to a portion of my roof. What a smell of bat poop. I was patient  i tore down the ceiling and just allowed them to drop there poop and tried to use it for fertilizer on plants very strong. You have to be careful. I put a very bright light on all night and they finally left. I said finally i will fix the ceiling and i won. No what a mistake that was they came back . They produced even more bats then before. Then i cut a tree down and finally a predator came and started eating them . An owl ..god bless him he started eating so many they left. But i know its only time that will bring them back. 

        This paragraph is for the person or persons who think that bats eat that many mosquitoes. You are obviously not been here that long. I am not a bat expert as you are trying to claim . I do not have a degree in bat pooop but i do have common sense and i have observed over 50 years that the mosquito population would still be in the zillions if we were depending on bats to eat mosquitoes, so that YOU would live here. At no time as a young boy have i heard so many people have so much to say about what landowners  can do with their property . No one is telling you that you can 't protect the bats or the chickens or the green iguanas. Please take all of them to your house and let them feed on your mosquitoes or plants  or anything else you are willing to share with them.

        • Anonymous says:

          As I read the post above, I cannot help wondering whether the new schools have been delayed by weeks or decades!

           

           

      • Anonymous says:

        You have cleverly presented your opinion as fact and twisted it to be convincing.  Nature is a balance of all things and it corrects itself very well without human interference.  Bats will contribute an extrremely small and insignificant part of the food chain.  And most people is not all people.  An interesting fact is that the number of people with an opinion that opposes a smaller number of people with an opinion does not make it correct.  The poster made no mention of cleaning the cave of excrement.  If you have lived near bat areas you will have noticed it on your car and that cleaning it off leaves an acid like stain.

        You call the poster an 'insensitive fool' simply because he or she has expressed an opinion that is contrary to yours.  This is not the mark of an educated person either. I will refrain from name calling and respect that you have an opionion that is different to mine.  I would wager that you wrote your post on a computer that is extremely unfriendly to the evironment, the very one you are trying to protect.  Give some thought to your own lifestyle and just how much you live with environmentally damaging plastic and chemicals. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Carefull.  Your sounding like a pest.  What happens to pest here?

    • Anonymous says:

      'I bet the conservationists would soon change their minds when they have to clean the deep staining and corrosive excrement these disgusting creatures leave behind.'

      You mean  – Guano

      http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-guano.htm

      So exactly how much is the deep staining and corrosive excrement worth?

       

       

       

       

    • Another Anon says:

      After reading many of the comments, I am ashamed to be part of the human race! It is disgraceful and very UN-CHRISTIAN to have no regard for creatures we consider weaker than ourselves. We like to think of ourselves as being so superior. Quite the contrary.

      • Anonymous says:

        I guess Jesus got it wrong then when he ate fish an animal WEAKER than us. 

    • Anony Mouse says:

      What would you say if YOU were one of these bats living in these caves?

      Think about that for a minute…..if you can.

      • Anonymous says:

        I would say, 'Holy crap I can talk like a human, I will enter into politics"

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman Parrots too …. They eat crops.

      Shall we shoot them as well?

  32. Peter Milburn says:

    Typical Govt decision(or lack of)I am not surprised that planning does not know about this(or do they???)as per usual the Left hand does not know what the RIGHT hand is doing.If this place gets destroyed or damaged in any way all I can say is shame on you Mr.developer.I am so sick of hearing about all this destruction on a daily basis and then when DOE steps in to object or say this is not good for the island for these reasons.No one pays any attention.Why do we have these departments set up if they are not going to be listened to?I remember well some years back when Mr.Ryan went ahead and took out all that mangrove opposite the old Holiday Inn and it was done on a long w/end if memory serves me correctly and finally when it was brought to the attention of the proper authorities it was too late and all that happened was that "Wrist Slap"heard around the world(not)We are surrounded by a real bunch of people with no guts to stand up and say "NO"to many of these projects and all because they do not want to damage their tender reputations.Men or Mice that seems to be the question.I will let the public decide on that one.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Long on hysteria, short on facts.

  34. Anonymous says:

    It's the old "asking for forgiveness instead of permission" ploy.

     

    It seems to have worked well in this case.

     

    I just hope that that some environmental salvage is still possible.

  35. Anonymous says:

    All about money….doesn't give a crap about the environment and the animals that live in it

  36. Anonymous says:

    Get that bloody planning law in place – NOW! Another Cayman scandal. Pathetic place.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Quote from last nights interview on Cayman 27:

    "Mr. Sorensin says he is doing the development by the book and has government approval for everything he has done so far. He says destroying the environment is the last thing he would want to do. His business model is depending on the caves staying in their natural state."

    If he has Government approval why is it that Planning does not know what is going on? Also, how is excavating the cave considered leaving it in its natural state. I'm sure the bats are long gone due to the noise and fumes from the excavator! He's just anotherexample of GREED…

    • anonymous says:

      The Caves would not require Planning permission only if he built a structure or cleared the surface by mechanical means. Parking, visitors centres, signage all would require Planning permission but digging out the bottom of a cave does not.

      • Anonymous says:

        So how much did you get for the Guano?

        This is the second time that it has been 'mined' I believe.

      • my my says:

        The machine sitting inside the cave looks like "mechanical means" to me. I expect it took out quite a few trees and plants on it's way in. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Any excavation requires a water authority permit. Without one, the developer can be shut down.

      • Anonymous says:

        So that excavator in the picture isn't mechanical?

      • Anonymous says:

        How do you think he got the back-hoe to the cave? Did he just drive it through the forest carefully avoiding all the trees, or did he clear them out of the way by mechanical means to gain access?

  38. Anonymous says:

    This is such a shame and more than alarming.  The fact that this developer has not been in close contact with the National Trust and the DoE is disappointing and irresponsible.  He should be providing answers.  He should be releasing any and all planning applications and permissions, comments relating thereto, re-zoning applications and any studies and/or research done in relation to how the natural environment of this incredibly sensitive area will be impacted long term.   I feel so bad for that beautiful ficus.

    I do hope that the developer has the Islands' best interests in mind rather than his own pockets.  What is even more of a shame is that we do not have a comprehensive piece of legislation protecting the species that live in and around these caves!   If you care about the future of biodiversity of these Islands, you'll write a letter to the Minister of Health and any other MLA urging them to put the National Conservation Law at the top of their lists!  Stop ignoring your duty to biodiveristy!!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    No planning permission??? Thats ridiculous……Courts better slap Mr Sorensen with some hefty fines for this. His actions are inexcuseable, he might as well have been Conching in a marine park. Poor bats 

  40. CAYMAN CAVES says:

    I used to be a beautiful Cayman Cave, and I live in the district of Bodden Town in the area called BIG ROCK on Cumber Avenue.  Unfortunately I am stifling to death for a few many years, because people have built their homes near by and has used me as a ceptic holding tank.

    Before I was really beautiful and led under ground out to the sea with many different rooms to explore.   Many kids would visit me every day and explore the many rooms, and I enjoyed listening to them but now Because of the septic surage draining I am sufferingand I am seeping into the ground around the area.   HELP!! someone.  Department of Inviromental Health Help!!.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Guess they didn't teach you to spell at the "cave-dweller" school?

      • Hole in the cave. says:

        14:04 the most important thing is that I believe " YOU GOT THE MESSAGE"  However, If you did not, then the CAVE DWELLER SCHOOL is open until 5. pm week days and 10.pm weekends.  Please take a course in understanding..

        • Anonymous says:

          My question would be…….if the message is so important why is it necessary to deliberately (?) spell words incorrectly? If in fact that was the case? The only justification I can see is that it draws attention to the post, however in my opinion that is a very poor reason if the message is important enough it should do so on the content and not the appearance.

          • Another Hole in the Cave says:

            My dear and Learned friend, as you can see the writer CAYMAN CAVES is not an expert WALKING DICTIONARY on big intelligent words like you are, but of course it seems as if CAYMAN CAVES DO HAVE  much more depth and common sence.  

            Now, that is exactly why some of us ignoramus,  intelligent, idiots, are laughed at every time we open our mouths and are called walking dictionary. just because the big intellignet words carries no common sense and they are only understood by the person making them… 

            I only wished your miind could have  been so kind to receive the "meaning" of the expression and call of the story, but obviously it was not, and was only seeking to hunt, cut down, destroy and be-little the call of the CAVE', How very sad.  I do hope you sleep well with those thoughts.

      • Cave Man says:

        Your heart is not in the right place.  If it was you obviously would have learned something from the story instead of critizing a few spellings.

        Of course that is something which you will always do, look for the worst in the best of us, instead of trying to see  seeing the best in the worst of us.  Think on these things.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Another one bites the dust.  Bye bye bats.  Hello  ex-bat cave bar.

  42. Jebbas says:

    This is serious business. Cayman has one of those most unique and diverse ecosystems in the Caribbean. These is a number of of plants, ground geckos, birds, bats and other species that are critically endangered and 'projects'such as these are only going kill more of them off. Our natural resources are irreplaceable, and it is not okay when someone seeks to ruin our birthright in favour of his own monetary gain.

     
    Check out this article for a list of all Cayman's unique creatures & plants that we all need to know about (They have been here way longer than we have): intreasures.com/caymans.html
  43. Anonymous says:

    Its partially because of Planning that we have lost much of our heritage. Indeed, its a sick joke that because of our great Planning Department our beautiful Caymanian homes are hard to locate. They sit in between, or surrounded by plain, boring, generic concrete homes approved by Planning. Hell, Planning seems to have had no issues approving Florida looking single story homes in flood areas. 

    Really, if there is any department that needs a name change, its our Planning Department. 

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      A great deal of the loss is due to "planning" which seems little more than a rubber stamp organization.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Oh please!  This is ridiculous.  If there is anything actually worth looking at on Grand Cayman then it should be open for the public and visitors to see.  This is a revelation.  I am all for conservation but I really do not care about these bats weighed against the possibility of having something mildly interesting on this flat patch of rock.  Similarly there shouldn't be any commercial enterprises there.  This developer should be made to stop his work IMMEDIATELY.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Why don't the cavemen in Planning just move in? 

  46. Anonymous says:

    lol [chuckle]… someone is trying to make money in these hard times. :))

    • Anonymous says:

      ….. Not when the area is boycotted and the Cruise ship visitors are dwindling!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Being a Caymanian, this man should want to perserve what little indigenous species and plants this island has left. He's a fool if you ask me, this should not be allowed by the government.

  48. Anonymous says:

    “We have become aware of this situation and a compliance officer has been dispatched to investigate. I am awaiting his report to determine a future course of action,”

    Where did he go? The jungles of Africa? When will he be back?

  49. Obama Nation says:

    This is an abomination that clearly outlines why we need a conservation law.  But there is no money to be made in back-handers there, so…

    Just sayin'…

    If the politicians want to prove their worth, they should fast track the laws to protect our counrty from being raped of all its natural treasures.  

    If the opposition and Save Cayman alliance really had the island at heart, they would focus just a little bit on this truly troubling blind spot in the government, and spend a little less trying to hamper economic progress…  Ya listening Ezzard?  You hear, We'Bayas?  Rooster Rable-Rousers, shut up for a minute and listen to our natural treasures being bulldozed…

    This is a much better high horse to ride!!!  

    Signed, The Truly Save Cayman Alliance.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Once again, an insensitive developer destroying our natural environment.  Disgraceful!!

    It is imperative that the conservation law be passed by our legislatures.  They are adamant about moving the dump, let's see some of this spill over in getting the conservation law before the house.

  51. Anonymous says:

    What about the white shoulder bats in tuxedos.  Were they here too?