Reef Lecture Series

CCMI hosts an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public. These events engage citizen scientists and watersports industry personnel in the latest research and information to come out of the Little Cayman Research Station. These are great events for anyone who is interested to learn more about CCMI’s current research initiatives as well as other issues impacting the marine environment.

Reef Lectures are held on Little Cayman at the Southern Cross Club weekly at 6pm each Thursday. In Grand Cayman, Reef Lecture events take place 3-4 times a year at various locations on island and cover a range of topics.

All Reef Lectures are free and open to the general public thanks to the support of corporate sponsors; registration is requested due to limited seating at some events. We invite everyone to join us in learning more about our coral reefs and the important work being done to protect and restore them!

Upcoming Reef Lecture:

Cuba’s Hidden Treasures:

An underwater adventure to Gardens of the Queen coral reefs

Dr. Amy Apprill, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

DATE: Wednesday, 30 September
TIME: 12 noon Cayman (UTC -5)
LOCATION: online; advance registration is required (register HERE)

This talk will take you on an underwater adventure to the pristine coral reefs of Gardens of the Queen in southern Cuba. Learn about the unprecedented partnership between U.S. and Cuban scientists that studied these reefs and how we combined resources and training from our respective countries to present a holistic and technologically innovative view into this ‘crown jewel’ reef system of the northern Caribbean.

About the speaker:

Dr. Amy Apprill leads the Microbial Ecology for Ocean Conservation research laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Her research examines the contribution of microorganisms to the health and ecology of sensitive animals and ecosystems of the ocean. Examples of her research include using drones to examine the upper respiratory microbiome of large whales and founding a U.S.-Cuban collaborative study of microbial biodiversity on pristine Cuban coral reefs. Her lab partners with communication professionals to convey this science to public audiences.  Dr. Apprill received a B.A. from the University of San Diego and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Hawaii.

In 2019, CCMI was awarded a grant from the US National Science Foundation, in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Dr. Amy Apprill (WHOI) and Dr. Carrie Manfrino are co-principal investigators on this grant,  which will further explore the importance of the coral microbiome.

It is thought that the bacteria in this slimy mucous layer which coats coral plays a key role in resistance and resilience to corals facing pathogens and warmer ocean conditions. However, there are no quantitative methods available to track specific microbial lineages within coral microbiomes, thus limiting the ability to examine these concepts. This research project will improve capabilities to quantitatively measure and track just that, and this project will also create a network to share this information.

This event is free and open to the public. Donations to support CCMI’s continued efforts to research coral resiliency and restore coral reefs is greatly appreciated.

Register to attend

Registration is free; donations are appreciated and go to support CCMI’s research, restoration and education programmes that protect and restore coral reefs.

Past Reef Lectures

Two Decades of Resilience on the Reefs of Little Cayman

Since 1999, researchers at CCMI have been monitoring the health of the coral reefs around Little Cayman Island by surveying various aspects of the community on an annual basis. Long-term monitoring studies such as this enable assessment of the resilience of the reef to changing conditions over time and also give a better understanding of the true impact of global climate change. Following the standardized protocol of the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA), these surveys document patterns of local change over the last two decades and enable regional comparisons through the Healthy Reef Framework developed for evaluating the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

CCMI’s Director of Research, Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, shared findings about the change over time for coral cover, coral composition, algae, and fish density and biomass from CCMI’s 20 year data set of annual reef monitoring activity. This includes talking through the findings contained in the recently released technical report, discussing the results and what they tell us about the stability of the coral and fish populations on Little Cayman. At the end of the lecture, Dr Goodbody-Gringley discusses Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, which has recently been discovered on Grand Cayman.

Stop Whining! Life as an ocean ambassador

Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. She discusses how her photography tells the stories about threatened and endangered marine animals, their environment and the challenges they face, all in an effort to raises awareness about some of the most critical environmental issues of our time.

This seminar, presented in an online Zoom session by underwater photographer Ellen Cuylaerts on Thursday, 11 June 2020, took participants on a virtual trip to the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!

Coral Health: From microbes to branches

Healthy corals are critical for sustaining reefs. Corals are in a tightly coupled relationship between bacteria (like in your gut!), microscopic algae, and the coral animal itself. This seminar, presented by visiting scientist Dr. Anya Brown on Tuesday, 21 January 2020 at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands Dart Auditorium, focused on trade-offs between types of coral growth, a coral disease outbreak, and what clues the microbes on corals tell us about their health.

20 Year Surveys of Cayman Reefs

Dr Claire Dell presents on the Cayman Islands Reef Survey Report from 1999 – 2018. In July 2018, a team of six science divers and one boat captain from the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) concluded surveys of 25 reefs across the three Cayman Islands (eight reefs in each of the Sister Islands and nine on Grand Cayman), the same reefs which CCMI had originally surveyed in 1999. The scientists used the same Atlantic & Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) protocol as was used in the original 1999 survey, in order to have an accurate assessment of the change in reef health during this time. What did the scientists find in the most recent survey? How does that compare with what they found 20 years ago? Learn about the results of the survey – and what this means for the future of our coral reefs.

Coral Reef Resilience and Refugia

This presentation focuses on current threats to coral reef systems and mechanisms to overcome them through changes to reproductive patterns, epigenetics, dispersal, morphology, and physiology, with specific attention to the potential for mesophotic reefs (deep below SCUBA depth limits) to serve as a refuge for future coral survival. Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley presents her current work on the deep reefs of Bermuda. She also briefly discusses her ongoing research on the invasive lionfish.

Many thanks to our Healthy Reefs sponsors for supporting this event: