The Cayman Islands is located in the central Caribbean Sea, about 150 miles south of Cuba. It comprises three small, low-lying limestone islands named Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Little Cayman is the smallest and least populated of the three islands, about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide.
More than half of Little Cayman consists of marine-protected areas. The water quality is excellent. There are over 350 species of fish, 37 species of coral, and shallow lagoon, wall, and deep ocean (several thousand meters) habitats all within swimming distance of each other and the LCRC field station. The reefs have been part of a zoned marine protected area for over 25 years.
(a) Ideal For Reef Research
The coral reefs of Little Cayman are arguably the best in the Caribbean for research because they are isolated from continental and anthropogenic influences and support a biologically diverse and robust community. The island is largely undeveloped, with only 150 permanent residents. Little Cayman has no run-off or point-source pollution problems and no over-fishing issues. The economy and government are stable, making Little Cayman very attractive for scientists and students alike.
(b) Extraordinary Marine Biodiversity
In addition to a diverse set of oceanographic circumstances, the reefs contain large populations of mega fauna, including spotted eagle rays, one of the last spawning aggregations of the Nassau grouper, hawksbill and green turtles, and a healthy shark population — all protected by the Bloody Bay Marine Park authority. This combination of water quality, diverse coral and fish species, and abundance of easily seen large mammals and fish is also why Little Cayman has been rated the top diving destination in the Caribbean many times over.
(c) Land Fauna
In terms of terrestrial species, Little Cayman has the largest breeding population of Red-Footed Boobies in the Western Hemisphere, a healthy population of frigate birds, the endangered West Indian whistling duck, occasional parrots, abundant endemic rock iguanas which grow over 4 feet long, anole lizards, and a wide variety of land and sea crabs.