On August 30th as a celebration of International Whale Shark Day, the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center (WSORC) played host to a lively afternoon dock party at the Utila Lodge Resort. A highly energetic and animated slackline competition provided great entertainment as did DJ Cynia kicking off the afternoon party with great tunes blaring out! Cheap beer & rum were enjoyed by many in a beautifully typical Utilian afternoon sunshine, surrounded by clear turquoise waters and people having fun on the slackline and in the water. Thank you to all Utila´s Whale Shark LOVERS out there who came to support us!
Photo credit to Simon Hilbourne
The day was pleasant and sunny, and much appreciated after a somewhat fretful night of high winds and heavy rainfall! Miraculously, it was the perfect weather for having an outdoor afternoon party. During the morning WSORC volunteers, along with the kind help of two enthusiastic BICA volunteers as well as staff from the Bay Islands College of Diving (BICD) and the Utila Lodge set up everything on the dock; music, beer coolers, beers on ice, tables, posters and the slacklines.
People started arriving at the Utila Lodge dock past noon in blazing sunshine to the sounds of Caribbean rhythms being played across the bay. Beer was sold for just 25Lps with all proceeds going to WSORC, from a beer table with the advertising slogan “Save a whale shark, drink a beer!” and to get the competitors’ balance started those who bought tickets for the slackline competition received their 1st beer free! The Utila Lodge sold tasty BBQ food plates for 100Lps and soft drinks and mixers were available at the Lodge bar.
The motivation behind our fundraiser was to promote International Whale Shark Day and raise awareness about the importance of whale sharks to Utila, and build upon our conservation efforts for these majestic giants.
There were 2 slacklines, one for practicing and the other one for the competition. Even visitors who were not competing tried their luck on the slacklines! As the afternoon progressed so did the boldness of the attempts, providing great entertainment for all the spectators. DJ Cynia continued to throw out a myriad of classic Caribbean tunes with her excellent music selection, which was clearly undeniable to all the dancing feet around the dock!
When everyone was ready and present the competition began. There were 11 participants in total, and a blind name draw from a bucket helped set up the contestants for round 1. Each competitor received two attempts on the slackline, and those who got furthest along the slackline progressed into the following rounds, culminating in a grand finale between Bradley Shellito (a PADI Dive Instructor who is no stranger to the island of Utila), Jamie Lamb (one of BICD’s current Dive Masters in training), and Emily Moore (coincidentally one of the BICA volunteers who helped out earlier in the day).
After an entertaining battle to mark the end of the afternoon, Bradley was announced the winner of 1st prize! He received 1000Lps for coming first and supporting the whale sharks! Second place was taken by Jamie, who received a crate of Salva Vida beer, and in third place was Emily who received 2 fun dives that had been generously donated by BICD. Congratulations to our worthy winners! And huge thanks to all the competitors who got involved, all of our friends who came out to support us, all of the staff and volunteers involved in making the day such a success, and massive thanks to UK based MAVERICK SLACKLINES for generously donating the brand new slackline gear to the center! Happy International Whale Shark Day August 30th 2013!!!