A message from Dr. Guy Harvey
We were in Panama with GHOF sponsor Martin Lancaster and his son Sam, tagging blue marlin and black marlin. Martin was winning bidder in the trip generously donated by Tropic Star Lodge. Jessica caught her first black marlin, 600# tagged and released by PhD student Ryan Logan.
We worked the Miami International Boat Show and shortly afterwards were on the inaugural voyage of the luxury cruise ship Regent Seven Seas as a guest lecturer, from Puerto Rico to Miami.
We started out with Ocean Conservation Month, run by Jessica (GHOF Project Manager) and Louisa (GHOF Development Manager), which went really well with our various educational projects. Then the USA enacted a pandemic lockdown and the Cayman Government enacted shelter in place and our lives were changed forever. I started to write my next autobiography to follow up on “Portraits from the Deep” published in 2002. Since then we had completed so many research expeditions, TV shoots, and dive expeditions that it was time to put it all down in a 350 page book, liberally illustrated of course. We started doing Facebook Live broadcasts twice per week focused on art and marine education topics. Zoom meetings became the norm.
We were under harsh lockdown conditions with no travel, no visitors, and under nightly curfew, and all day on Sundays to limit community spread of the Covid -19 virus. It was working but there was no boating, fishing or diving allowed. I made progress on the book. Days blurred into weeks. Weekends were a continuation of the week; there was no distinction. Every day was work, work, work but it was fun. Telling those stories and researching photos from my library and old albums full of 4 X 6 prints was like going fishing every day.
Was much like April. The sea was flat calm for weeks and we really missed boating. But work on the book continued. On May 19th, we were finally allowed to go boating, but only two people per boat. At least it was a start.
I was close to finishing the manuscript and had sent chapters out to the Bonnier Corporation in Orlando who were doing the edit and layout. I started painting again, doing a series of freshwater fish pieces for apparel and we went to the Stingray City Sandbar on a regular basis to help feed the stingrays.
We celebrated Jessica’s 30th birthday on the beach at Luca in fine style. A lot of pent up energy from the lockdown was released. We conducted the stingray survey July 9th – 11th, counting a total of 60 rays, about half the normal number. Because we had no visitors for three months, the rays were leaving North Sound to find food.
Given the good summer weather we headed over to Little Cayman on the “Makaira” to dive and fish and stayed at Southern Cross Club. The diving on Bloody Bay wall was as good as always. Jessica and I took a lot of footage of big groupers, sharks, rays and reef fish in the shallow coral reefs. Alex Robertson caught his first marlin, a 325# on August 11th, the biggest for the boat in three years. We also dived on the Captain Tibbetts wreck in Cayman Brac for the first time. Most of August was spent painting and watching weather reports as the hurricane season cranked up in earnest. We hosted an art show at the gallery to help drive more business to the store. On August 30th, Jessica and I went over to Little Cayman in flat calm weather and stayed at Southern Cross Club again. Such a wonderful place with superb staff. After doing four long exciting dives on Bloody Bay wall, trolling back at 5:15 p.m, we had a double header blue marlin off the West End, catching one marlin of 150# and losing the bigger one.
Tropical Storm “Nana” came by on September 1st, but on September 2nd, Jessica caught a fine 275# blue marlin off the West End. We crossed back to Grand Cayman on Sept 3rd. My son Alex, his wife Julia and baby Harper arrived in Grand Cayman from Jamaica to begin quarantine at the Holiday Inn. We returned to Little Cayman on September 10th with my friend and GHOF supporter Andi Marcher, doing more dives. Andi caught a 125# blue marlin on Sept 11th off the west end and then we fished the remainder of the BK Big Fish tournament from Little Cayman. Jessica fought a 400 # blue marlin for 20 minutes, before the hook came out, on Sept 13th.
Work on reviewing the book edits and photos began in earnest. The book is called “Guy Harvey’s Underwater World”. In between painting I was working on the book with Creative Director, Dave Weaver, Editorial Director Shawn Bean and Bonnier CEO, David Ritchie. We conducted a second stingray survey October 10th – 12th to continue to monitor the population numbers at the Sandbar, with less animals counted than in July. The storms were so frequent in the Atlantic that we ran out of regular names and went into the Greek alphabet with “Delta” coming close.
I continue to paint Caribbean birds in preparation for the next art show at the beginning of December and TS “Eta” ran right over us, having done a number on Honduras and Nicaragua a few days before. I was also doing sketches and painting some specific scenes for the book as the editors requested.
We continued to prepare for Christmas and held our first online virtual auction to benefit the GHOF, with a recorded event hosted by Jessica and me. We had Sylvia Earle, Sir Richard Branson, Jack Hannah and Wyland all as guest speakers and it was well attended virtually.
As the US death toll reached 300,000 people, several vaccines for the COVID-19 virus became available. When we get the vaccines here then perhaps, we can allow more visitors on island and get the tourism sector back up and running with a shot in the arm.
Please be a responsible citizen and get vaccinated.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our research, education and conservation efforts.
Stay safe and Happy Holidays.
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