In 2020, the world came to a halt, and very quickly the positive impact of global lockdown due to reduced carbon emissions and limited use of natural resources became evident. Most importantly, we collectively saw the natural world emerge from the shadows as a lockdown created space for them. Unfortunately, this respite from human impact was short lived, and the effects are quickly being swallowed up as travel and consumerism ramp back up to pre-Covid-19 levels.
Now that almost two years have passed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, CCMI has been able to evaluate the impact a reduction in ocean activity has had on local coral reefs. We knew the pause in local ocean activity would provide a brief respite for nature, allowing it to recover from the constant presence of human activity, at least that activity below the surface.
However, climate change and coral disease did not take a break, and coastal development continued, continuing to place significant pressures on local reefs and their long-term survival. The pressures to the health of local coral reefs never truly went away; they simply shifted during this time and re-energised stakeholders to stand up for coral reefs and take action.
At CCMI, we are invested in finding the secrets to coral resiliency that will allow our reefs to survive – in spite of the pressures put on them. Through our long-term coral monitoring efforts, we see the reefs in Little Cayman are resilient and can bounce back to a healthy state after a period of stress.
CCMI’s 2022 ‘Healthy Reefs for the Future’ emphasizes the need for swift action that ensures coral reefs can survive beyond the challenges of today.
Our important research through the Healthy Reefs campaign is evidence that Little Cayman’s coral reefs show positive traits of resiliency, with continued high coral and fish abundances. However, shifts in species contributions and colony size indicate that while coral cover remains high, Little Cayman is not immune to human impacts and global climate change. As we move into 2022, we will expand monitoring efforts as local ocean activity increases and in response to the presence of coral diseases. Our message for the year that the efforts we put in and actions we take today can ensure our reefs are healthy in the future.
We have many exciting plans in place for the Healthy Reefs campaign including:
- continuing annual AGRRA survey of coral reefs to add to our 23-years of knowledge of the status of Little Cayman’s reefs
- increased coral reef monitoring in response to disease
- increased monitoring in response to changes in local ocean activity
- producing our third annual Reef Report Card for an update on the Little Cayman reefs
- sharing latest research and findings from the Little Cayman Research Centre with the public through the 4th annual Grand Cayman Reef Lecture Series, Reefs Go Live programmes, educational materials, and fun events that get everyone involved!