All Watersports Companies must adhere to the Marine Laws and Regulations of the Cayman Islands and the CITA safety guidelines and procedures. Where any discrepancies exist between the CITA safety guidelines and procedures and these Operating Guidelines, these Guidelines will supersede the general CITA safety guidelines for visits to the Kittiwake.
Additionally, special considerations for safety and operations whilst on the Kittiwake ship wreck are as follows:
1. Dive Master and Snorkel Guide Passenger Ratio
- Supervised External/Topside Dives (No Penetration)
The required maximum in-water Dive Master / Passenger ratio is 1 Dive Master to 10 certified divers. A surface support staff on lookout must remain on the Vessel while divers are in-water.
- Supervised Wreck Entry Dives (Penetration)
The required maximum in-water Dive Master / Passenger ratio is 1 Dive Master to 8 certified divers. A surface support staff on lookout must remain on the Vessel while divers are in-water.
The second Kittiwake dive within a six-month period by a certified diver who has completed the guided orientation dive within that period can be done in a buddy team provided the buddy has also completed the guided orientation dive within the same period. A divemaster must be in the water monitoring the divers in buddy pairs an a surface support staff on lookout must remain on the Vessel while divers are in the water.
- Night dives
The required maximum inwater divemaster/passenger ratio is 1 divemaster to 6 certified divers. A surface support staff on lookout must remain on the Vessel while divers are in the water.
- Supervised Snorkelers
The required maximum of Dive Master / Snorkel Guide to snorkelers is 1 Dive Master / Snorkel Guide to 25 snorkelers with in-water supervision. A maximum of 100 Passengers per Vessel is allowed. A surface support staff on look-out must remain on the Vessel while snorkelers are in-water.
- Supervised Free Divers (breath hold divers)
The required maximum of Dive Master / Snorkel Guide to Free Divers is 1 Dive Master / Snorkel Guide to 8 Free Divers with in-water supervision. A surface support staff on lookout must remain on the Vessel while Free Divers are in-water.
2. Minimum Qualifications for Staff
- Dive Masters must have a Wreck Diver Specialty certification from a recognized training agency.
- All Snorkel Guides, Dive Masters and Surface support staff must have current CPR/O 2 and Emergency First Response or Medic First Aid training. All Staff supervising Free Divers must be capable of free diving to the maximum depth of the dive plan.
3. Mandatory Requirements - Dive Masters, Snorkel Guides & Vessels
A map of the Kittiwake ship wreck site will be provided with the license by CITA.
Additional maps/slates are available for purchase.
a. A slate with a map of the Kittiwake (in-water)
b. An underwater signaling device
c. Visual pink band secured around the tank
d. A primary and back up dive light
e. Safety recall system for divers – a meeting point on the Kittiwake
f. Kittiwake site briefing and buddy system procedure with emergency recall
g. Kittiwake Site entry medallion or wrist band for each diver that must be worn on
the individual Passenger
a. A slate with a map of the Kittiwake (in-water)
b. A signaling device
c. Visual pink band on wrist for in-water Snorkel Guides
d. Safety recall system for snorkelers
e. Kittiwake site briefing and buddy system procedure with emergency recall
f. Kittiwake site entry medallion or wrist band for each snorkeler that must be worn
on the Passenger
(Pink Marker tape is available locally at A.L.Thompson's, Aisle 16a CI$1.50 per roll)
Mandatory Requirements for Vessels
In addition to all the safety requirements of the Marine Laws and/or Port Authority regulations, all Vessels visiting the Kittiwake Site must have:
- A large map of the Kittiwake Site showing the moorings, Kittiwake orientation, dive buoys and navigational markers.
- All Passengers must be given a briefing of their Vessel location on the map, their Vessel name and shown areas in the Kittiwake Site that they are allowed to dive/snorkel/free dive in as well as any off-limit zones and Vessel traffic zones.
- norkellers must be briefed abotu the danger of accepting compressed air from a diver, and told that they must not breathe from a scuba tank while snorkelling.
- Captain of the Vessel must take a written, logged count of all Passengers entering the water, and must recount that all Passengers are back on board prior to leaving the Kittiwake Site. Missing divers or snorkelers will be reported to 911 Emergency immediately.
- All Vessels must have two Kittiwake entry decals, that is issued with the annual License, to be affixed in plain sight on either side of the vessel. The entry decal must valid be for the current year.
4. Certification Level and Wreck Penetration
- Open Water Scuba divers are only able to dive on decks 1 to 3 of the Kittiwake and must be supervised.
- Advanced Open Water divers may dive on all decks of the Kittiwake but must be supervised and should be taken only in areas of the Kittiwake where there is direct surface access.
- A diver holding a Wreck Specialty certification or Rescue certification or above, may have unsupervised access to all decks of the Kittiwake after a guided orientation dive. Guided orientation dives must be within 2 years of the previous dive on the Kittiwake.
- Absolutely no solo diving is allowed on the Kittiwake Site; all divers must be in buddy teams.
- Unsupervised divers must each have a slate map of the Kittiwake in their possession on all dives and must each carry a dive light and signaling device and file a dive plan with the Vessel prior to the dive. Dive plans must at a minimum include the divers names, entry time, starting tank pressure, proposed exit time and emergency responses.
- Snorkelers must be able to swim and should have a safety floatation device if, in the opinion of the Watersports Company, they are not comfortable snorkeling without one. Snorkelers must stay over the Kittiwake and not venture out towards surrounding reefs due to Vessel traffic.
- Free Divers must be able to free diver comfortably and have a buddy or Staff immediate overhead providing in-water supervision on each free dive, directly overhead. Free Divers must stay over the Kittiwake and not venture out towards surrounding reefs due to Vessel traffic.
- Night Dives on the Kittiwake are allowed. HOWEVER, all night dives will be guided/supervised regardless of the qualifications of the divers. All divers must carry a back up light in addition to a primary light and each Vessel shall affix an underwater strobe to the Vessel.
5. Mooring Etiquett
- NO UNLICENCED VESSELS MAY ENTER THE KITTIWAKE AREA.
- The maximum number of Passengers at the Kittiwake Site at any one time is 300.
- No Vessels may anchor in the sand within 300 feet of the Kittiwake except those that have been granted a special permit to do so. Sand anchoring permits will be issued by the CITA upon approval of the request that shows the need for the anchoring. CITA reserves the right to refuse any request.
- Once Vessels have verified that all Passengers are back onboard and the ladders are raised they must immediately depart the Kittiwake area.
- No dive or snorkel Vessels may pass directly over the Kittiwake, except as required to pull on / off a mooring. The only exception to this is an emergency Vessel or other boat if it is on assisted duty.
- Vessels may only tie up to moorings, and not tie up to any navigation buoys or ship marker buoys. Moorings are yellow commerical moorings identified as Kittiwake and the number one (1) through seven (7) on them.
- Waiting Vessels must remain at least 300 feet away from a mooring buoy which is being occupied. Vessels not on a mooring or with a sand anchoring permit must not allow customers to enter the water.
- The maximum speed limit upon entering the Kittiwake Site is 5 mph and NO WAKE is permitted. As the Kittiwake Site has a large number of Passengers and Vessels visiting the area, all Vessels must be aware and on lookout for in-water passengers that are in the Kittiwake Site.
- Commercial vessels with passenger limits of less than 4 persons (including personal watercraft, kayaks and inflatables) are permitted to raft together off a designated mooring #5 or #7, or other moorings as designated by CITA. Rafting vessels mst not exceed 40 ft in overall length.
- Licensed private vessels (non commerical) will only be allowed to visit the Kittiwake Site after 2:00pm.
6. Time Limit on Mooring Buoys
- The maximum time that a Vessel with divers is permitted to stay on a mooring is 1.5 hours. The maximum time that a Vessel with snorkellers is permitted to stay on a mooring is 1 hour. Maximum time is from tie up to departure.
- Exceptions to 6a. above will be by prior arrangement with the CITA office and for reef survey and maintenance purposes. All Licensed Watersports Companies will be notified by CITA in the event of an exception to the maximum time limit being granted.
- To apply for special permission to remain at the Kittiwake for longer than the maximum time, a request must be sent to CITA including the date and time of the requested visit, Vessel name, contact information and reasons for the request in sufficient detail for evaluation.
- Exceptions to 6a. above are allowed in the event of an emergency.
7- Kittiwake Site Closures
- The Kittiwake site may be closed from time to time for emergencies, safety concerns or maintenance and repair that is needed. All Licensed Watersports Companies will be notified of the closure by email and VHF radio broadcast.
- When the Kittiwake site is re-opened, notices will be given to all Licensed Watersports Companies.
- All Licensed Watersports Companies must abide by the Closure notices and not visit the Kittiwake Site during any closure times.
8- Reporting of damage
- All Licensed Watersports Companies visiting the Kittiwake are required to report to the CITA office immediately if any damage, jagged edges, loose parts, deterioration or environmental or safety issues of any nature are noticed. This also includes any problems noted with mooring balls/rope/chain/shackles for safety and security of Vessels, Staff and Passengers.
9. No touching or taking of anything on the Kittiwake
- Under no circumstances are divers or snorkelers allowed touch or take anything from the Kittiwake Site.
- Exceptions to 9a. above will be made for maintenance and repair teams.
- Exceptions to 9a. above will be made for Cayman Islands Marine Conservation Board Licensed lionfish cullers.
- If loose debris or a maintenance problem is noted while visiting the Kittiwake, Staff are not to remove anything from the water but instead are to notify CITA immediately.
- No gloves may be worn in-water at the Kittiwake Site unless approved under permit from the Cayman Islands Marine Conservation Board.
*For more information on general safety in and around Cayman's waters, please view CITA's 3 Public Service Announcements HERE.