CCMI 2021 Intentions
2020 highlighted two important factors, affecting both CCMI and the bigger global picture, which is at the heart of our 2021 impact intentions:
Firstly, protection of reef ecosystems is as important as ever.
If anything, 2020 taught us that the human race can change, and that we can positively impact the environment through collective action. We need to find scalable and replicable solutions to conserving coral reefs for the future. The time is now.
Secondly, as a company we must be resilient and flexible.
To that end, we seek to: ensure our project goals are supported by the right people; develop a company environment that facilitates and encourages excellence; and create the ability to focus on our mission, despite global chaos.
In 2021, we aim to:
- Accelerate our projects, particularly coral restoration methodology
- Invest in our people, to facilitate our focus on impact–driven projects
- Create more opportunity for ocean stewardship, through increased scholarships, internships, and early career scientist support, as well as increased outreach activity
- To continue to deliver Vision 2025 goals, to develop a sustainable organisation that helps to solve the problems facing coral reefs
Reef Ecology and Evolution Laboratory (REEL) at CCMI
This year, Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley will begin her National Science Founded Project field work: Assessing the mechanisms of molecular and morphological adaptation by corals to extreme environments. This collaborative study between CCMI and the University of Haifa, Israel, uses a multifaceted approach, including advanced molecular and imaging techniques, to examine the mechanisms that enable corals to thrive across broad depth gradients in the Caribbean and the Red Sea.
Restoring Wild Reefs
CCMI’s recent dome outplanting project showed 89% survival rates out of more than 120 coral restored onto the reef (over six months). This gives hope for the potential to outplant large areas of the reef, increasing wild reef complexity and promoting biodiversity. We will further understand the impact of thermotolerance and disease on nursery-reared corals, as we identify more resilient and robust corals for outplanting. We hope to expand this project to Grand Cayman in the next year, funding reliant.
Women in Ocean Science Award
The first awardees in CCMI’s Women in Ocean Science Award arrive at the Little Cayman Research Centre this year. The inaugural team, Dr. Gignoux-Wolfsohn, who is studying the effects of bivalve community diversity on the distribution of pathogens and related microbial communities at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, and intern Federica Manca will be arriving as soon as the borders open.
Healthy Reefs & Quiet Oceans
Thanks to the Darwin Plus Covid-19 Response Grant, the CCMI team is investigating the impact of reduced activity in Cayman’s waters due to the border closures on the local marine ecosystems. Underpinned by the 21 years of fish and coral monitoring and CCMI’s ongoing healthy reefs surveys, the results will indicate tangible solutions for managing high volume dive and snorkel sites more sustainably in the future. The project will culminate in a Reefs Go live and stakeholder webinar, to help communicate and discuss the results with local entities.
Education & Outreach
Future generations of ocean stewards
In 2020, CCMI delivered more than 70 local scholarships to education programmes at the Little Cayman Research Centre, despite global lockdown. Our Caribbean Marine Ecology Camp, marine ecology courses for local schools, and Young Environmental Leadership Course (YELC), are all planned for 2021, and scholarships are already in abundance for local students. We aim to grow our scholarship opportunities in 2021 to 100+. Coupled with our local education programming, plus (hopefully) the return of our international students, we aim to support hundreds of ocean stewards with exceptional learning opportunities.
In addition to our in-situ courses, we plan to expand Reefs Go Live, giving the programme the opportunity to really put ocean conservation and the Cayman Islands on the map. The Reefs Go Live programme will be extended in 2021 to provide stakeholder engagement workshops (directly from under the ocean), to help create interaction around project results and facilitate crucial scientific discourse. We will also grow the international network of teachers that engage with Reefs Go live.
Building capacity and early career science
We will continue our commitment to local education especially via our successful Ocean Science Scholar internships, as well as offering a robust internship programme on an international scale. Opportunities for students and early career scientists to work at a full operational research facility are scant and this programme comes at a time when globally, ‘youth’ at the beginning of their careers are facing unprecedent barriers and challenges.
CCMI is committed to engaging citizen scientists and engaged stakeholders (locally and internationally) in providing timely and relevant project updates in our specialist field. In 2021, we will further our multi-year Healthy Reef campaign, including the Grand Cayman Reef Lecture Series, social media sharing and develop our communications efforts to help bring the positive solutions and discourse about coral reef ecosystems to the fore.
A key goal for 2021 is to expand our global collaborative partnerships. Travel permitting, CCMI will hold a Coral Reef Think Tank to celebrate World Oceans Day, pulling together some of the regions most key scientific minds.
Please contact Kholden@reefresearch.org if you would like further information on CCMI’s projects or sponsorship opportunities.