The Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary was established in 2010 to protect Oracabessa’s marine ecosystem. Its mission is to increase biodiversity in Oracabessa Bay to improve livelihoods in the local community. Through investments by the Oracabessa Foundation, Seacology, and GEF, the Fish Sanctuary has reintroduced sea turtles and thousands of new coral into the Oracabessa Bay area. There are several reefs located in the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary as well as mangroves and beaches including James Bond Beach. The Golden Clouds reef is one of the largest in Oracabessa Bay and is a popular dive destination due to its diverse reef structure, vibrant marine life and close proximity to the Cayman Trough.
Oracabessa has a long history as a Jamaican fishing village, with Oracabessa Bay at the heart of this activity. Oracabessa Bay comprises a rich ecosystem, home to a variety of habitats including coral reefs and mangroves with plentiful estuarine areas providing nursery habitat for a wide range of marine life. Concerned for the bay’s long-term health, a local group called the Oracabessa Foundation succeeded in getting the bay declared an officially protected fish sanctuary.
The northern boundary of the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary is located on the edge of the Cayman Trough with walls that begin at 60 ft. and drop down to over 150 ft. These walls are covered in a large variety of hard and soft corals. Beautiful elephant-ear, basket, tube, and rope sponge are found on the edge of this trench with shades of red, pink, yellow, and orange colors as well as enormous trees of black coral and gorgonia. The walls contain many overhangs and ledges and are home to lobsters, king crab, green and spotted moray eels, and a host of other marine creatures. Beyond the boundaries of the Fish Sanctuary, the Cayman Trough plunges to depths of over 25,000 ft and is renowned for deep-water sport fishing including marlin and tuna.