Reef Research Experience

Join CCMI for an exciting two-week programme centered around underwater field research methods in coral reef ecology and locally based research projects.

“The CCMI Reef Research Experience was the most incredible experience. I learned so much about coral reefs, but even more about myself… CCMI gave me a new vision for my future goals and I am very grateful for everything I’ve gained and learned through this program. I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone remotely interested in marine science.”

– Anna Mae Meezy, Reef Research Experience Participant 2017

Programme dates: email CCMI for information

Experience and Certifications to be gained Include:

  • Minimum of 15+ research method dives (weather permitting)
  • Workshops on Caribbean coral, algae, and fish identification
  • Hands-on field training in coral reef ecology and underwater field research methods such as: roving diver surveys, running transects, point-line intercept surveys, underwater quadrats, CoralWatch coral bleaching surveys, AGRRA benthic surveys, AGRRA fish surveys, RVC fish surveys, and BRUV surveys
  • Experience working with EDGE coral species (specifically Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata) in a nursery setting through multiple growth methods
  • Analysis of images using the most up to date software systems (CPCe, CORALNET, and AgiSoft)

CCMI will issue a Certificate of Completion of 80 hours in Underwater Field Research Methods upon the completion of the course (university credits can be petitioned)

Candidate Requirements:

We seek to fill 16 spaces for a 14-day period. Requirements include:

  • 18+ years of age
  • Open Water Diver with at least 20 logged dives (Advanced certification or higher preferred)
  • Insured through DAN
  • Current enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program with a passion for marine science, biology, environmental science, or related field (or a recent graduate)
  • Must be physically fit to work long field days in the sun and on the water


Course Fee:

A course fee includes:

  • On site accommodations for 14-nights
  • Three meals per day
  • Roundtrip airport transportation
  • All research dives and snorkels
  • All scuba gear rental (you will need to provide your own mask, fins, and snorkel)
  • All necessary field equipment
  • The use of CCMI bicycles
  • All offered course work (cumulating in 80 hours of work in underwater field research methods)

This fee does NOT cover flight costs and DAN dive accident insurance.


Background and Rationale:

Whole economies and stable societies are rooted in healthy marine environments. For the Cayman Islands, coral reefs are one of the nation’s greatest treasures that brings economic value and positive public relations to the country. Additionally, on a global scale, coral reefs are at a heightened level of stress due to climate change, ocean acidification, and direct anthropogenic impacts. Average coral cover in the Caribbean has dropped to 14% and continues to decline globally. However, reefs in Little Cayman show an average coral cover of >20% and have recovered from four recognized bleaching events over the past decade. Specifically, during the 2015 temperature-induced bleaching event, corals were moderately to severely impacted, however by 2016, these corals had recovered to what appeared to be 100% health. This recovery demonstrates the potentially resilient capabilities of corals around the reefs of Little Cayman. This local ecological history makes Little Cayman an ideal place for growth in research, education, and conservation efforts.


Application Process:

Please send the following to

  • A letter of interest (maximum 500 words)
  • Resume
  • Contact details for two persons of reference

Once accepted into the Reef Research Experience, a deposit will be necessary to secure your spot. This will come directly out of the overall programme cost.

Rutgers CCMI Coral Reef Internship in Marine Ecology & Conservation

CCMI and Rutgers University have partnered for over 10 years to deliver an amazing opportunity to undertake research at a fully operational field station. Participants will work alongside our research team on collecting field data whilst learning about principles of tropical ecology, sustainability and management, through a workshop series. Students will develop data into a series of group research posters that may be published or presented at a national or international conference.

Please check back for future course dates!

Students will gain experience in:

  • Caribbean fish, coral and algae identification
  • Underwater field methods (transects/roving surveys)
  • Lionfish dissections
  • Coral nursery maintenance
  • Turtle nesting surveys
  • Data analysis
  • Poster and oral presentation skills
  • Working at a research station on a remote island

** Students are eligible to transfer 4 Undergraduate/Graduate Credits **

For more information on this international course and to begin the application process, visit the Rutgers course site HERE.

Application Deadline: TBD

2018 Coral Reef Intern Blog

Learn more about the Rutgers/CCMI Coral Reef Interns’ experience.


If you are interested in bringing a university group to CCMI’s Little Cayman Research Centre, enquire directly by email.

“Visiting CCMI was the best experience of my college career. The hands-on learning and research opportunities they provided allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. The staff and surrounding community on the island welcomed us as one of their own and were eager to teach us about their beloved oceans.”

“My time spent at CCMI helped me grow as a researcher and as a responsible steward of the earth. I learned so much about marine research and the importance of reefs. I was inspired by the work CCMI is doing and the way that CCMI staff values and integrates sustainability in their daily practices. I also simply fell in love with the reefs around Little Cayman, it was so exciting to see new and unique things every time I went in the water!”

“Going to CCMI was a once in a lifetime experience that will stay with me forever. In just one week I was able to explore an entire island, meet incredible people, learn more about coral reefs and the research that is being done to protect and restore them, and gain an even greater appreciation for our environment that I will take with me into my career in environmental policy.”