Ocean-cam installed on East End reef

| 01/05/2013

Webcam (253x300).jpg(CNS): Ocean Frontiers in Grand Cayman has unveiled an underwater webcam that is streaming live video from a shallow reef on the island’s remote East End to the rest of the world. The dive resort said that the ‘ocean-cam’ is part of a monitoring project that has just been launched in partnership with Teens4Oceans, a non-profit organisation that encourages young people to get involved in the stewardship of the ocean through research, technology and education. With this new equipment teenagers from across the world will be watching what is happening on Cayman’s reefs. The ocean-cam was installed by Steve Broadbelt, owner of Ocean Frontiers, with the help of 16-year-old Parker Lindsay.

Anchored in six feet of water about 1,000 yards from the Ocean Frontiers dock, the webcam is part of a system set up by the non-profit organization.

“The busiest time is dusk between 5:30 and 6:30pm,” said Broadbelt. “There is a lot of fish activity as they come across from point A to point B. And this is just by day; we don’t know what they are doing at night.” 

Lindsay, who is watching the same reef activity as Broadbelt, said he was picking up a pattern. “I tend to watch around 6am to 7am and 5pm to 6pm Mountain Time and during these times I have been noticing certain types of fish congregating on the coral head,” the high school junior said.

Executive Director of T4O, Trevor Mendelow, said the organisation operates six other ocean-monitoring sites in the Caribbean, Florida and California, but the Cayman site is by far the best and is generating the most excitement.

“Cayman has the best internet connection in the Caribbean so that webcam is providing three times the video quality of the other video locations. It is so phenomenal that we can stream out multiple cameras simultaneously,” he said.

Nate Newman, chair of his T4O high school chapter, explained why: “We use a top of the line self-cleaning camera and CleanSweep technology, manufactured by Wild Goose Imaging CleanSweep, which maintains the clarity of the gorgeous HD image.” 

Broadbelt revealed that the technology partner here was Digicel Cayman, which provided the direct Internet access for fast uplink speed that wasn't possible a few years ago. But it is not just the quality of the video that has quickly made Cayman a favorite T4O site.

“The relationship with Steve at Ocean Frontiers is just a match made in heaven because he helped make it happen,” Mendelow added.

Both teams collaborated in setting up the monitoring system, and Ocean Frontiers converted an old barge into the floating platform that now holds the solar panels and battery packs needed to power the camera 24 hours a day.

Streaming video is just one of an arsenal of tools used by T4O to engage tech-savvy teens into ocean science and inspire them to get involved in protecting our seas. The Cayman webcam turns 360° every 10 minutes to scan other areas of the reef, while probes record the water’s salinity, temperature and acidity. The information collected by Parker, Nate and the other T4O students will help establish critical baseline reef and fish data sets for Cayman, which can later be used for reference, archive video, still photos and other surveys.

Mendelow said there was real science in watching the fish. “This is a very unique opportunity because things are happening there with a wide diversity of fish species. We look at the behaviour of the fish, the composition of the environment and study the relationship to each other, and we ask ‘how do these things affect the fish life?’”

Mendelow said Cayman was an ideal place to foster a culture of caring, pointing out the assistance provided by the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment, the quality of Cayman’s Marine Parks and the protocols in place to protect them. The T4O team will visit Cayman two or three times a year to keep improving the site equipment and expanding the project.

Meanwhile, Broadbelt is planning to install lights soon for night-time viewing, when nocturnal critters emerge on the reef and other natural wonders take place, such as coral spawning.

“I’m excited about what we’re going to learn during the coral spawning in a few months,” he said. “We have a couple of coral heads that will spawn in September. We have monitored them for 10 years but we want to find out if they spawn at any other time of year."

The live Cayman video is available for viewing on the Ocean Frontiers website (Link has been corrected)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    DOE – was a coastal works license granted for this? If not, can everyone on the coastline install one?

    • Anonymous says:

      Electrical lines and cameras are exempt; no need for coastal permit – CUC comes to mind.

    • SSM345 says:

      Can we put these in all the MLA's offices too?

    • Anonymous says:

      Grow the hell up – this is just typical of the small minded petty attitude of people on this island at times…..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great! Thank you! can't open the site though.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am unable to view the ‘cam’ with my iPad. Probably has to do with flash.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not ready for flash yet, unless you use Proton or Puffin browser app for iPads. An iPad version should be up by the end of the month.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What's the point of publicising this if it's not ready to view?

    • Anonymous says:

      If you put in Ocean Frontier's (oceanfrontier.com ) website and then click the cam, it will work.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are many competitor destinations streaming live underwater video these days.  It's a good idea, and fairly cheap technology now.  CITA should think towards installing multiple cameras on Kittiwake and Keith Kibbetts as well as other top dive sites.  A night strobe would be good too – other locations use a 5 minute timer once twice or three times a night.  It's not on long enough to bother the wildlife or get clogged with blood worms.  

  6. The Rt. Hon. Anon. says:

    Just took a look. Totally Awesome! Hard to drag myself away, it's addictive and hypnotising at the same time. Now, no adding subliminal messages OK ? Man I really love it. Bravo etc..

  7. Anonymous says:

    That is pretty awesome.  I will definitely be viewing this when I feel homesick.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wonderful idea.

      However, did the installer have an electrical license or employ a currently licensed electrician to install the camera?

      We have too much unlicensed activity in these islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Did you call such a licenced electrician to install the webcam on your personal computer? No? Didn’t think so.

    • Anonymous says:

      I've been in England since October and have been pretty much glued to this all day. Got the fish to put me to sleep