This film is part of Free

Oxford University Cayman Islands Expedition

Gerald Thompson's record of the 1938 Oxford University Cayman Islands Expedition. The first natural history survey of all three islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) reports were written about the flora, fauna, geology and wetlands.

Amateur film 1930 15 mins Silent


The silent film opens with celebrations to mark the arrival of HMS Orion at Georgetown on 8 August, on hurricane patrol in the Caribbean. On 10 August a hurricane hit Grand Cayman, causing much damage to the island and ships in the harbour. The film illustrates the flora and fauna of the islands, the vernacular architecture and camp-life for the expedition team.

The expedition was the result of an invitation by Cayman Islands Commissioner Allen Wolsey Cardinall (1934-1941) to make a biological survey of the islands. The expedition team included: W. Gemell Alexander, Leader and Organiser ; C. Bernard Lewis (Wadham College), Biologist ( and a Rhodes Scholar from the United States); Gerald Thompson (St. Edmund Hall), Biologist and film-maker; W. N. Paton (Magdalen College), Marine Biologist and Wilfred Kings of Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby, Botanist. The completion of their work in identifying specimens and publishing their results was delayed by of the outbreak of World War II in 1939.