Logs and maps of the Caribbean from 1500 onwards, reveal the Cayman Islands were navigational landmarks known to countless sailors from Spain, England, France and Holland.
The first European to sight the Cayman Islands was Columbus, in 1503. The recording of this event belongs to his 14 year old son, Ferdinand, who entered the following note in the log: “Wednesday May 10th, we sighted two very small low islands full of turtles (as was all the sea thereabout, so that it seemed to be full of little rocks); that is why these islands were called Las Tortugas”.
The islands they sighted that day were Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
For the next 200 years the Cayman Islands became known to thousands of explorers, sailors and adventurers. By the 1700’s loggers and planters began to migrate there from Jamaica. Numbers remained low until the early 1800’s when Caymans cotton industry grew, as did the demand for slaves.
By the 1830’s the population was growing and there was a desire to strengthen government. Local magistrates appointed by Jamaica had tried to apply Jamaican law to Cayman. This soon proved to be impractical and in time laws were fashioned to suit Cayman. Cayman’s existence and legislation was finally sanctioned in 1863 under a British Act of Parliament that made it a dependency of Jamaica. The constitutional link with Jamaica ended a century later and The Cayman Islands became a crown colony.
Cayman’s modern development gradually accelerated during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Land registration was formalized, the financial industry took shape and tourism was growing partly because of offshore finance and land development. Todays modern Cayman economy, financial services, tourism and real estate, so became firmly established. Schools, health facilities, roads, links by air and sea and the conquest of the mosquito were all part of the infrastructure needed to support this development. By the 1980’s and 1990’s Cayman was recognized globally as a major financial, tourist destination and real estate market.
Between 1900 and 1950 the population grew from about 5,000 to 7,000. By 1970 it reached 10,000, with approximately 20,000 visitors each year. However, over the next 30 years the population increased to a little under 50,000, and the number of tourists multiplied one hundred times, from 20,000 to over two million. More than 100 nationalities can be found amongst those who now live and work in the islands, and a majority of the workforce now comes from outside Cayman. Grand Cayman is home to the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm, The Cayman Turtle Farm celebrates Caymanians’ stewardship of the seas and relationship with nature through tactile, colourful, educational and memorable experiences. The park allows visitors to experience the rich history of Caymanian life in a fun and safe environment while providing opportunities to observe and interact with native flora and fauna.
The expanded facilities ensure visitors continue to learn more about these amazing sea creatures as well as our new additions including the predators, birds, caiman, and other exciting creatures. The new park also houses a world-class research and educational facility that focuses on the conservation of sea turtles.
The park offers visitors a unique opportunity to swim and snorkell with fish and other marine life in its 1.3 million gallon salt-water lagoon. Guests can also peer into the predator tank and come nose-to-nose with sharks and eels. Let your imagination soar as you wander through the beautiful free-flight bird aviary or stroll down an historic Caymanian street complete with porch side artisans. Children and adults alike will delight in interacting with starfish, urchins and crabs at the touch pool. (Source: caymanislands.co.uk)