Jack Augsbury, Divemaster and Underwater Photographer

For those of you who follow our Harbour Heights facebook page, you recognize the name Jack Augsbury. When Jack is on island, he is diving every chance he gets. Jack sends out an email every day showing his followers the wonders of the underwater world here around Grand Cayman. Each email includes a beautiful photo (or two) that Jack has taken, and an explanation of what we are seeing and why it caught Jack’s eye. 

We thought you might like to know a little more about Jack and what he has seen here over the years.

When did you start diving around the Cayman Islands?

We came to the Cayman Islands in the mid-1990s and stayed at the Radisson (now the Marriott) and  I took up diving again. I started diving in 1968 before the requirements of PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and dropped it for work and took it up again in 1985 when I got my PADI OW (Professional Association of Diving Instructors – Open Water certification). We started coming to Cayman yearly when I got my Advanced OW from Don Fosters, which had a shop at the Radisson.

In 1996, I trained and got my Divemaster certification with DM instructor Martin Barker who was the manager at Dive N’Stuff.

What makes diving in the Caymans so special?
The water temperature and visibility around Cayman are exceptional. The reefs are close to shore and each side of the island offers different diving opportunities. There is a professionally maintained chamber on island and the general safety is high.


Peppermint Shrimp, by Jack Augsbury

What is the most interesting thing you have seen while diving around the Caymans?
I saw my first Hammerhead off the North Wall at Lemon Drop off. My areas of interest have expanded as I saw a Channel Clinging Crab with eggs this past winter. Nudibranchs and other macro critters opened up an entirely new world of diving for me in Cayman. A group of 5 or 6 eagle rays together off of North Sound. I especially liked some of the large schools of Horse Eyed Jacks we used to get, and we you could swim with them in the center of the school.


Christmas Tree Worm, by Jack Augsbury

What kind of gear do you use to take your photographs?
I started with a film camera, a Nikonos RS (a very good camera). In 2005 I went with a digital Canon SLR with a Seacam housing and Ikelite strobes.

Is it hard to dive and take photos?
I got the dive skills first in my dive training and mastered buoyancy control. My DM instructor’s “no touch policy” has stayed with me and all my photos are taken with buoyancy, unless I am on the sand bottom. Many divers take up photography without mastering their buoyancy and the reef suffers.


Brittle Starfish on Rope Sponge, by Jack Augsbury

What sort of changes over time have you noticed while diving in the same areas over the years?
A dive site on the West side was called Eagle’s Nest because of the huge barrel sponges there – that they have died off is an example of the changes I have seen. OroVerde was the dive site I was required to document and map for my divemaster certification in 1996. My chart of that site is greatly changed from its present condition. 

I dived for years on the West side of the island and now dive on the East End. The dive companies I have dived with have been small dive companies; many work out of the ground floor of the Lobster Pot now.  Dive companies and boats have gotten larger and less personal.


Yellowhead Jawfish, by Jack Augsbury

Are there areas that are environmentally sensitive around Grand Cayman? If so, what makes them sensitive? 
The Marine Park system must continue to be supported by residents and visitors alike.  Education of people to the importance of following the limitations of harvesting lobster and conch and protecting the grouper during spawning season is critical. Many grouper spawning sites around the country have been lost due to over fishing. Education is key because some people still believe the fishing is limitless. Supporting the Department of Environment in their protection of the Marine Park is also important. Reporting poachers to the DoE, as I do, is also being a good steward of the environment. I don’t eat endangered fish at restaurants and I support the culling of lionfish.

I continue to see new things and learn new things and continue to be awed by the underwater world here. Jean Kirkpatrick, a long time visitor at Harbour Heights, used to be a regular on the Dive N’Stuff dive boat and was a reef.org fish counter. She often showed us marine life as she had an exceptional eye.


Bar Jacks with Shark, by Jack Augsbury

Thank you Jack for sharing a piece of your world with us!

Contact

Harbour Heights
1453 West Bay Road
Seven Mile Beach
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
614-441-4435 (US)
345-945-4295 (Cayman)

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