The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) has been operating in the Cayman Islands since 1998, making 2023 our 25th anniversary year! Since we started, CCMI has worked to fulfill the organisation’s vision of a world with vibrant oceans and healthy coral reefs through innovating, cutting-edge research programmes, experiential learning opportunities through residential programmes at the Little Cayman Research Centre (LCRC), and ambitious conservation efforts, including the Cayman Islands’ first coral nursery and our empirically based restoration programme. Through strategic planning and development efforts by our team of professionals, CCMI has continued operating uninterrupted through an array of challenging situations and events, including a major hurricane (2004), global financial crisis (2008-09), and the Covid-19 pandemic (2020-21). All of these tested our ability and resolve to adapt and adjust our operations, funding, and programme delivery methods. By successfully navigating these experiences, CCMI has emerged from each challenge stronger, more experiences, and more determined to ensure our important work for a sustainable future for marine ecosystems continues.

But our story is not just the last 25 years; it is also what is ahead for our organisation, projects, and programmes as we look forward to the next 25 years – and beyond. Our team of scientists, educators, and communicators recognise that coral reefs are critically important – yet threatened – ecosystems that require immediate protection. We have big goals and ideas to help us do our part for coral reefs in the face of human-caused and natural pressures, and we want you to join us as head into the next 25 years of work for a sustainable future for coral reefs!

Our Impact

The impact of our work shows the true extent of our efforts and commitment to coral reefs and the Cayman Islands:

First coral restoration programme in Cayman
CCMI established the first coral nursery & restoration program in the Cayman Islands. We have over 10 years of empirically based restoration best practices.
1500 km of coral grown
CCMI has grown ~1500 km of coral as part of our restoration work. This is the distance of 35 marathons, or the length of the Amazon River!
Empirically based coral restoration
CCMI has out planted over 70 meters(sq) of coral onto the reef since 2012. Our experimental dome out planting methodology has had an 89% survival rate since 2020.
Provided 1500+ local scholarships
CCMI has supported more than 1500 Caymanian students through scholarships to attend primary, secondary, and tertiary level programmes at CCMI.
50+ MSc, PhD, and intern research projects
CCMI has facilitated early-career development for students from more than 18 different international universities.
100+ scientific papers published
Topics of published papers cover aspects of coral adaptation and resiliency under global climate change, with a focus on discovering real solutions to declining ocean health.
Reefs Go Live reaches the world
CCMI has reached more than 200,000 people with Reefs Go Live! These educational broadcasts contribute to ocean literacy, with the intention of broadening ocean stewardship.
$1 million+ invested into field research annually
CCMI invests over $1,000,000 in field research annually. With the help of our sponsors, we contribute to the ongoing monitoring and research that feeds a global network of knowledge.
Visiting researchers
CCMI has hosted over 100 visiting researchers! Both independent and collaborative research takes place, fostering innovation, accelerating scientific discovery, and expanding our impact.
2016 International Symposium host
In 2016, CCMI held the symposium “Can we Save Coral Reefs” in London. Convened by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, it brought together scientists, policy makers, and advocates from around the world.
Launched Women in Ocean Science Award (2019)
With the support of the Brian Melito & Jessica Colker Trust, CCMI launched WIOSA in 2019, to facilitate the advancement of early-career women in ocean sciences.
Little Cayman named a Mission Blue Hope Spot
CCMI successfully championed Little Cayman to be named a Mission Blue Hope Spot (2020), confirming the biodiversity both on land and in the ocean are significant and special.
'Quiet Oceans' project presented to the UN
During the Covid-19 pandemic, CCMI tracked the impact of quiet oceans due to reduced activity. CCMI researchers conduct coral reef surveys to quantify how fish populations were impacted; results were shared with the United Nations in a webinar.
Exploring offshore sea mounts
CCMI's research into sea mounts will help increase understanding of the importance of offshore zones. CCMI was awarded a Darwin Plus Initiative grant to study these environments may provide important connectivity between distant populations.
Monitoring Little Cayman's reefs for 25 years!
Since 1998, CCMI has conducted surveys of Little Cayman reefs. Results from this work help generate an understanding of the mechanisms that are driving reef resilience in a changing environment.
Expanded education through social media
CCMI reaches 300,000+ people annually on social media. We value this space as an educational podium, a place to share knowledge on important ocean-related topics, and as a place of interaction.
Conducting innovative research projects
With the support of our donors, CCMI has expanded our research programme, prioritising the following topics: adaptation, resilience, restoration, and exploration.
Young Environmentalist Leadership Course (YELC)
Through this course, 100+ students have gained dive training, education, and job skills. YELC provides key experiences to Caymanian students ages16-22, helping bridge the gap between school and career and create enthusiastic ambassadors for the ocean.
Population control of the invasive lionfish
CCMI staff, dive operators, and local volunteers have removed 18,000+ invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans). CCMI's director of research, Dr. Goodbody-Gringley, has extensive experience in lionfish, from their impacts to the development of a sustainable fishery.
Public outreach through Reef Lecture Series
CCMI has hosted the Reef Lecture Series, both online and in person in Little and Grand Cayman for years. Through the Reef Lecture Series, we inform and empower the public by communicate the latest findings from our research.
Promoting Ocean Literacy in schools
Our ocean literary goal is for every child in the Cayman Islands to become ocean literate by the age of 12. We want to encourage the next generation to become strong ocean stewards through our residential programmes, such as our Marine Ecology Course.
Hosting Marine Ecology Courses (MEC)
CCMI offers an immersive 3-day/2-night residential course for primary and secondary students. With the help of the BODA Charitable Star Trust, CCMI has hosted 2-3 government schools each year since 2017 - 100% free of charge.
Supporting early career scientists
CCMI regularly supports early-career scientists through internships and entry-level research positions, providing lab and fieldwork experience opportunities that develop skills in analysis, presentation, and writing.
Investigating critical areas of research
Funding by the UK Darwin Plus Initiative (matched by a private donor grant) will allow exploration in the following areas: coral composition and connectivity, reef and pelagic fish communities, environmental DNA to ID cryptic species, and benthic mapping.
Building educational opportunities
CCMI has developed an education cycle that supports students all the way through their careers, including internships. We now see the incredible impact of supporting local students throughout their entire academic path, as our list of alumni grows and takes up careers in the field locally and abroad.

Make a Difference for Coral Reefs

Everyone can take positive action for a sustainable future for coral reefs. Here are some of our suggestions on how ocean enthusiasts can get started today!

Help to reduce plastic pollution
Support businesses that opt for a greener approach; use a travel mug for your takeaway coffee; purchase non-perishable foods in bulk; use a non-disposable bag while shopping; reuse or recycle products.
Conserve diminishing freshwater resources
< 3% of all water on planet earth is fresh water; < 20% of this is accessible. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth; run only full loads of laundry, use low-flow shower heads; use a toilet tank displacement device
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Carpooling – you can use apps such as Carma to find people who would like to carpool together; taking public transport; cycling or using electric segways; use car sharing services like Turo and Zipcar.
Help to reduce excessive food waste
About 40% of good food goes straight into landfills, where it releases destructive methane. help reduce wasted food by meal planning; donating excess food to food banks; try composting organic waste
Make safe, sustainable seafood choices
Purchase only seafood that has been harvested from stable populations, using fishing gear with minimal by catch and minimal impact on sensitive habitats. Apps such as Seafood Watch can help make informed decisions.
Help to reduce harmful commercial farming
Grow your own food; opt for locally grown/organic produce; reduce/eliminate your consumption of commercial meat; try eating a plant-based diet if this suits your body; cut out a serving or two of meat a week.
Be an environmentally conscious consumer
Avoid fast-fashion; support sustainable brands & second-hand stores; repair instead of disposing; buy energy-efficient appliances; buy wooden products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; support local
Reduce the impact of transport & shipping
To lessen the annual 11 billion gallons of gasoline & 1 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted during the transport of goods globally, support local businesses, which also helps to return wealth back into the community.
Upcycle to conserve limited resources
Re-purpose items in DIY; barter with friends or family – each person may have what the other needs; pass down old clothes; borrow items that you only need to use once or twice. This will also reduce waste that is sent to landfills.
Stem the tide of microfibers
Microfibers are tiny plastic threads that come from synthetic fabrics which flood our waterways. Avoid purchasing synthetic clothing (acrylic, polyester, rayon, and nylon); Purchase a washing machine filter.
Take action against biodiversity loss
Help prevent biodiversity loss by planting native foliage, which provides food & shelter for local wildlife. Participate in clean-ups and try to leave critical habitats undisturbed (spawning/nesting sites).
Correctly manage electronic waste
E-waste contains toxic substances (e.g., mercury, lead, arsenic) & ~85% is sent to landfills. Avoid unnecessary device upgrades; donate/sell electronics that still work and dispose of e-waste correctly!
Help eliminate exotic pet trade
To reduce biodiversity loss, avoid buying exotic pets; instead, support local sanctuaries, report any illegal trade, and support organizations that protect wildlife habitats and combat illegal wildlife trade.
Protect coastal habitats
Coastal habitat destruction has accelerated with increasing development, sea-level rise, and pollution. Support marine protected areas and take part in habitat restoration projects.
Practice sustainable recreational fishing
Practice catch-and-release with correct handling, and adhere to local fishing regulations. When finished, dispose of fishing gear properly.
Empower yourself through knowledge
Understanding the impacts of our actions helps us make informed choices concerning the environment. Attend talks by scientists, use credible social media, watch documentaries about environmental topics, and visit sanctuaries & parks to see them first hand.
Eliminate use of polystyrene (plastic foam)
Polystyrene (plastic foam) is a carcinogen & a risk to our health. About five billion pounds of this material ends up in landfills & waterways annually. Support companies that offer alternative packing materials!
Move towards sustainable energy
If possible, install solar panels in your home, and petition your local governments to implement more renewable energy sources, including wind or solar energy (or whatever is reasonable for your area).
Support environmentally friendly initiatives
Support local and international conservation charities & NGOs with donations of your time and/or money. Research to ensure the charities are transparent and have a mission that aligns with your values.
Connect with nature
The more we love something, the greater value we attach to it. Try activities that allow you to spend time in and connect with natural places near you.
Support sustainable tourism practices
When travelling, choose eco-friendly accommodation, avoid interfering with wildlife, support local companies that have 'green practices', and don't buy products made from endangered species.
Reduce chemical pollution
Choose environmentally-friendly cleaning products, dispose of unused medication properly (don't wash down the drain), dispose of old paint & motor oil at a recycling center, and avoid throwing fat and grease down the drain.
Reduce noise pollution
Noise pollution disrupts communication between wildlife, impacting mating, parent-offspring interactions, feeding, and other behaviours. Respect noise regulations and avoid loud activities in sensitive habitats.
Reduce light pollution
Light pollution from human activity disrupts the circadian rhythms of some animals, causing changes in feeding, migration, mating, and hibernation. Use responsible outdoor lighting, (e.g., turtle-friendly lights) and support dark sky initiatives.

CCMI’s 25th Anniversary Ambassadors

At CCMI, we’re fortunate to have such incredible support for our work from like-minded individuals and organisations, both locally and abroad! Some of our most energized stakeholders are helping us spread the word about the importance of coral reefs, how CCMI works to create a sustainable future for marine ecosystems, and how every individual can contribute to our effort. Our Ambassadors believe in our mission and vision, support our work with their donations of time and funding, and participate in our events and programmes, continuing to learn about and take action for coral reefs.

Read more about our enthusiastic 25th Anniversary Ambassadors who will help us share important updates and information as part of our anniversary celebration!