CCMI’s Little Cayman Research Centre

What people say

“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.”

“This trip was mind-blowing! Educational, eye-opening, and well-structured. I learned so much and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Indiana University 2022 Alumni

“I learned so much about our reefs and their importance to our world. I also learned how to maintain and grow the health of our reefs, not only as a scientist but as a resident of this planet.”
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 2023 Alumni

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

Visiting Universities

CCMI has been creating bespoke study abroad programming with Colleges and Universities from the Cayman Islands, the United States of America and the United Kingdom since its inception in 2008. Our education team has a diverse set of skills which we use to produce lectures, workshops and laboratory activities appropriate for students at the undergraduate and graduate level. We are always looking to foster new professional relationships with Colleges and Universities across the planet, if you are interested in bringing a study abroad course to CCMI, please email our Education Team here:

We are thankful to have worked with the following institutions and hope to        continue these prestigious relationships for many years to come.

Cayman Islands Further Education Centre
Cedar Crest College
Dartmouth College
Delaware Technical Community College
Indiana University
International College of the Cayman Islands
Kean University

Lawrence University
Louisianna State University
Rutgers University
Saginaw Valley State University
Simpson College
Wellesley College
University College of the Cayman Islands
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of North Carolina – Greensboro
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse


DATES: June 27 – July 9, 2023
INSTRUCTORS: Drs. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley (CCMI) & Tali Mass (U. Haifa)

This comprehensive course will provide in depth background on the ecology and physiology of reef building corals. The course will consist of a series of lectures focused on topics such as symbiosis, photosynthesis, historical impacts to reefs, bleaching, disease, reproduction, calcification, and restoration. Lectures will be complemented with field activities such as surveying coral community composition, monitoring for coral bleaching and disease, photogrammetry, photophysiology, and measuring coral metabolism, providing in situ training on how to conduct research underwater. Students will then learn how to analyze their data and work to develop a scientific report that will be presented to their peers at the culmination of the course. This intensive and integrated program is best suited for undergraduate and graduate level university students considering a career in coral reef ecology or marine science.

Course includes 11 days of full instruction generally consisting of lectures and field or lab excursions. Course will include several mechanisms for assessment includes quizzes, presentations, participation, and exams. This program is equivalent to a university level course load. Completion of the course will include a written transcript detailing the course that can be submitted to the student’s university for course credit.

Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley is the Director of Research at CCMI where she leads the Reef Ecology and Evolution Laboratory. 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 to maintain biodiversity. To address questions related to reef health, evolution, resilience, and recovery, she combines large-scale in situ ecological surveys, small-scale laboratory experiments, and molecular ecology. With funding from the NSF, EU and UK, Dr. Goodbody-Gringley’s research group is actively studying cutting edge topics in coral reef science with collaborators across the globe. In her previous role at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, she was a lead instructor for several field courses including Coral Reef Ecology, Ecology and Evolution of Fishes, and Marine Invertebrate Zoology. She is an avid technical diver, conducting in situresearch to depths of 60m using rebreathers, who strongly believes that teaching solid underwater skills greatly improves the quality of research.

Dr. Tali Mass is a professor at the University of Haifa where she leads research focused on coral physiology, genomics, and biomineralization. She is particularly interested in the impacts of climate change and the potential for corals to acclimate to extreme environmental conditions. Using state-of-the-art techniques her research team examines the most intricate details of coral skeletal formation, gene expression, and physiology from a variety of habitats and depths in the Red Sea, Mediterranean, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Dr. Mass teaches several undergraduate and graduate level courses at UH, including Scientific Diving & Research Methods, and often incorporates her technical rebreather diving skills into her research.

The course is aimed at both students (enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree courses) and graduates preferably in a related scientific field. If the maximum limit of participants is exceeded, a selection will be performed based on applicants’ experience and interests.

All participants must be certified divers (certification of any level and association e.g.,PADI, SSI, BSAC, NAUI are accepted), with a minimum number of 15 logged dives, of which 6 performed in the 12 months preceding the course. Proof of valid diving insurance (DAN or similar) is required for all divers along with completion of a diving medical evaluation provided with enrollment package.

Participants are strongly encouraged to bring their own dive gear including BCD, regulators, computer, mask, fins, exposure suit. Underwater flashlights and cameras are recommended but not required. A limited supply of gear is available to rent from CCMI if this is not possible. Please inform us in advance if you need to rent anything.

Day 1 – (June 27th):

  • Arrival at Little Cayman airport and transfer to CCMI
  • Room allocation and CCMI orientation
  • Evening ice breaker and course introduction

Day 2 – (June 28th):

  • Lecture 1: Historical Ecology of Caribbean Coral Reefs
  • Lecture 2: Coral Species Identification
  • Dive 1: Check out dive
  • Workshop: Coral Identification

Day 3 – (June 29th):

  • Lecture 3: Symbiosis & Photosynthesis
  • Lecture 4: Physiology of Bleaching
  • Dive 2: Coral ID practice & Nearshore Coral Collection
  • Methods Lecture: Assessing Symbiosis

Day 4 – (June 30th):

  • Lab 1, Part 1: Photophysiology & Symbiont Density
  • Lecture 5: Restoration
  • Dive 3: Coral Nursery Observation and Collection
  • Lab 1, Part 1 (continued): Chlorophyll Analysis

Day 5 – (July 1st):

  • Quiz 1: Coral Identification
  • Lecture 6: Physiology of Calcification
  • Lecture 7: Impacts of Ocean Acidification
  • Lab 1, Part 2: Photophysiology & Symbiont Density (nursery corals)
  • Dive 4: Observational Night Dive

Day 6 – (July 2nd):

  • Lecture 8: Coral Disease
  • Lecture 9: Physiology of Bleaching
  • Methods Lecture: Monitoring Reef State
  • Dive 5: Reef Surveys (site 1)
  • Lab 1, Part 2 (continued): Chlorophyll Analysis

Day 7 – (July 3rd):

  • Lecture 10: Reproduction and Recruitment
  • Dive 6: Reef Surveys (site 2)
  • Methods Lecture: Photogrammetry
  • Dive 7: Photogrammetry Surveys (site 1)

Day 8 – (July 4th):

  • Dive 8: Photogrammetry Surveys (site 2)
  • Lab 4: Photogrammetry Image Analysis
  • Workshop: Invasive Lionfish Management

Day 9 – (July 5th):

  • Primary Research Presentation: Dr. Goodbody-Gringley
  • Primary Research Presentation: Dr. Mass
  • Independent Study

Day 10 – (July 6th):

  • Exam
  • Workshop: Data Analysis, Presentations & Paper Writing

Day 11 – (July 7th):

  • Dive 9: Observational Wall Dive
  • Dive 10: Lionfish Removal
  • Data Analysis and Presentation Preparation

Day 12 – (July 8th):

  • Presentations
  • Field Trip: Beach Clean & Snorkel
  • Course Closing Bonfire & BBQ

Day 13 – (July 9th):

  • Transfer to Little Cayman Airport for Departures

Travel to the Cayman Islands requires a passport, with at least 6 months validity from your departure date. Several major airlines service Grand Cayman airport daily. Flights from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman are serviced by Cayman Airways, with multiple flights occurring daily. It is advised to allow a minimum of 3 hours between arrival in Grand Cayman and departure to Little Cayman if traveling on different airlines. The plane to Little Cayman is a small twin-otter with limited baggage allowance. Excess baggage exceeding this allowance will be delayed and thus it is advised to minimize the amount of baggage carried by each passenger.


Temperatures in the Cayman Islands range from 80-90°F (27-32°C) and humidity is high. You are advised to wear light, loose-fitting clothing. Attire in the Cayman Islands is casual. As you will be at the marine lab in the classroom or in the field, it suggested you bring clothes that can get salty and dirty, such as athletic attire. Sun protection, including a hat, sun shirt, and sunblock, are strongly recommended. Mosquitos and sand flies can be a problem. You are encouraged to bring bug repellent and antihistamine or anti-itch cream for bites.


The accommodation is in 4 separate dorm rooms, each with 6 beds, with meals included (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Sheets and bath towels are provided. Each room has air conditioning and fans. There is no accommodation in single rooms, nor in mixed gender rooms. Food is prepared to local customs and generally consists of meat with a starch and vegetable prepared in different ways. Meals are served as a buffet. Special dietary requirements and allergies must be mentioned in the application form. As a small facility and a remote island, strict dietary requirements (i.e. vegan) are difficult to accommodate. If you follow a restricted diet, you are encouraged to bring some of your own snacks to supplement meals.


No vaccinations are currently required to enter the Cayman Islands, including for COVID. CCMI follows a COVID safety protocol that will be included with acceptance materials and must be read before arrival.


The Cayman Island Dollar (CI$) and the US Dollar are accepted in the Cayman Islands, however local currency is encouraged. 1 CI$ = 1.2 US$. If paying in US dollar, the amount will be converted to local currency and change given in CI dollars. There is an ATM on Little Cayman that dispenses both currencies.


CCMI has free WiFi that can be used for educational purposes during the day and for communication and entertainment in the evenings. As an active research facility with limited bandwidth, online streaming during working hours is prohibited. You can purchase local SIM cards with data at the local convenience store.

To apply please send a CV and letter of interest to with the subject: “Last name_CoralEco_application”.

A maximum of 18 participants will be accepted. If more than 18 applications are received, selection will be based on the quality of the CV and letter of interest. Do not purchase flights before receiving an official acceptance letter.

Application Deadline is April 1st, 2023 with acceptance confirmed by April 15th.


The total course fee is US $3,750.

Included in the course fee:

  • Airport transfer in Little Cayman to CCMI
  • Transfer to all field excursions and activities
  • Food and lodging at CCMI
  • Lectures and activities provided for the course
  • SCUBA cylinders and dive weights
  • Field and lab supplies used for the course
  • Use of CCMI bikes and kayaks

Not Included:

  • Return flight to Little Cayman Island
  • Passport or visa (if required) costs
  • Diving Insurance and medical evaluation costs
  • Rental of diving equipment
  • Anything else not specified

Full course fees are required by May 29, 2023. Following payment of the fee, reimbursement for any cancellation before June 20th will be subject to a $750 administration fee. From June 20th onwards, the fee is non-refundable.