(CMR) Did you know that Discovery Day in the Cayman Islands commemorates the discovery of the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman by Christopher Columbus in 1503?
The public holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in May.
On their fourth voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus and his men were the first to sight Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on 10 May 1503, giving Spain a claim to the islands by right of discovery.
Columbus named the islands ‘Las Tortugas,’ which means ‘The Turtles,’ due to the large number of sea turtles the crew spotted as they sailed past.
Since then, the social and economic history of the Cayman Islands has been tied to the marine turtles.
Because the turtles could be carried on ships as a live meat source, the Cayman Islands became a regular stop for ships sailing the Caribbean.
The turtles' impact on Cayman's development is illustrated by the turtle's prominent role as a symbol of the Islands – in our currency, national seal, and flag.
The turtle continues to influence our heritage; however, the present turtle population in the waters of all three Cayman Islands is only a shadow of what was once considered the major nesting ground of the Green Sea Turtle in the Caribbean.
By the middle of the 16th century, the islands gained the name of the ‘Caymanas,' after a local Carib word for the crocodiles that were plentiful on the islands back then.