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!

Reef Lecture: CCMI’s Coral Restoration Programme Update

Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley – Director of Research and Education, CCMI

Date: Thursday, 24 February 2022
Time: 5:45pm- 6:45pm
Location: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands; Dart Auditorium

We request advanced registration as seating is limited. The event is FREE thanks to the support of our Healthy Reefs sponsors.


About the speaker:

Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley is CCMI’s Director of Research & Education and has been with CCMI since January 2020. Prior to that, Dr Goodbody-Gringley was an Assistant Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) where she led the Reef Ecology and Evolution Laboratory.

She completed her BSc at the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. at Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. She then held postdoctoral positions at Mote Marine Laboratory and University of Bologna, Italy.

Her research focuses on population structure, reproductive ecology, and genetic connectivity of a variety of organisms that inhabit tropical coral reef ecosystems ranging from inshore shallow reefs down to the mesophotic zone, with the goal of understanding how ecosystems function in order to maintain biodiversity.

Reef Lecture: Contributions of thermoregulation to immune protection in fish

Dr. Daniel Barreda, Professor – Immunology and Animal Health, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Canada

Date: TBD
Time: 5:45pm- 7pm
Location: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands; Dart Auditorium

We request advanced registration as seating is limited. The event is FREE thanks to the support of our Healthy Reefs sponsors.


About the speaker:

Dr. Barreda earned a B.Sc. in Microbiology/Biochemistry from the University of Victoria and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Cell Biology from the University of Alberta, Canada. It is here where he became interested in comparative model systems and fish health. He went on to a PDF in Medical Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2003 and was recruited back to the University of Alberta in 2006 as the first cross-appointment between the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2016.

Dr. Barreda is well recognized for his contributions to the development of high-resolution quantitative tools for evaluation of cell function, animal immunity and health. Projects are often cross-disciplinary and take advantage of academic-industry-government linkages to address relevant issues at the interface of animal performance and health; fish and aquaculture health remain a core interest of the Barreda lab. Since 2006 Dr. Barreda has secured over $10M in research grants (21 grants as a principal investigator), published over 70 peer-reviewed articles, and mentored 67 trainees in fundamental and applied projects. In addition to research and innovation awards, Dr. Barreda has received a number of teaching awards including an Inspirational Instructor Award and the University of Alberta Provost Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Past Reef Lectures

World Ocean Day: CCMI Research Update

CCMI has been monitoring the reefs in the Cayman Islands for over 20 years and began our long-term coral restoration programme in 2012. We have just launched a new Reef Ecology and Evolution Lab (REEL), which utilises cutting edge science to help understand climate change and how coral reefs can adapt for the future. Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, CCMI’s Director of Research, provides an update on CCMI’s work on coral reef ecology and restoration as part of our 2021 World Ocean Day activity.

Quiet Oceans: Assessing the Impacts of COVID-19 on Local Fish Populations

The oceans have been quiet in the Cayman Islands due to the border closures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. This presents a unique opportunity to quantify how fish populations are impacted by reduced human activity, creating important insight as to how we could sustainably manage coral ecosystem health. 

This “Quiet Oceans” Reef Lecture & Webinar discusses our assessment of the impacts of Covid-19 restrictions on local marine biodiversity. Following the presentation of the study results, a panel featuring Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley (CCMI), Dr Guy Harvey (Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation) and Catherine Childs (National Trust of the Cayman Islands) discussed what these findings mean for Cayman as we continue opening following the pandemic.

Protecting the Future of Cayman’s Coral Reefs through Resilience and Restoration

This talk, given by Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley (CCMI), will discuss the more about the two most detrimental stressors currently impacting the survival of corals: bleaching caused by thermal stress and disease. As our ocean continues to warm and outbreaks of disease become more prevalent, it is critical to understand the capacity of organisms to adapt and/or acclimate to changing conditions and seek solutions to promote resilience and sustain biodiversity. Dr. Goodbody-Gringley discusses results from our past restoration studies and presents a new outlook for development of resilient coral populations through advanced restoration techniques that will shape the future of coral reefs in the Cayman Islands.

Cuba’s Hidden Treasures: An Underwater Adventure to Gardens of the Queen Coral Reefs

This talk, given by Dr Amy Apprill (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), 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.

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: