25 Years of Coral Reef Research at CCMI

25 Years of Coral Reef Research at CCMI

25 Years of Coral Reef Research at CCMI

World Ocean Day 2023

Beaches, coastlines, and our beautiful seas are all interconnected via one global ocean. The ocean covers over 70% of the earth, and coral reefs are an important component of ocean health as they support 25% of all marine life and provide homes and protection for up to 1 million species. Coral reefs can be found in the tropics, as well as colder and deeper locations, around the globe. No matter where you live on earth, you have some form of reliance on coral reefs.


For 25 years, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) has worked toward fulfilling our vision of a a world with vibrant oceans and healthy coral reefs. We do this through an innovative, cutting-edge research programmem immersive residential education programmes, and ambitious, empirically-based conservation efforts.

This year for World Ocean Day, our team of professionals is highlighting what we have accomplished and learned in our first 25 years. We will use our experience and knowledge to push us even further into the next 25, increasing our capabilities and impact at this critical moment when coral reefs are under significant pressures.

Join CCMI for these special World Ocean Day 2023 events and activity:


CCMI celebrates World Ocean Day every year as part of our Healthy Reefs outreach efforts, and in 2023, we will be returning to the Camana Bay Cinema for this FREE World Ocean Day Reefs Go Live event! (Virtual registrations also available.)

DATE: Thursday, 8th June 2023
TIME: 10:00 am – 10:40 am Cayman time (UTC -5h)
LOCATION: Camana Bay Cinema

CCMI has been conducting innovative research and education in the Cayman Islands for 25 years!  We’ll share everyday examples and insights from our scientific findings and conservation work over the last 25 years with our Grand Cayman ‘dive buddies’ at the Cinema. CCMI’s educators and researchers will help everyone leave the event with specific actions we can all take to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy these magnificent corals reefs, too.

This virtual underwater experience also allows the audience the opportunity to send questions to our Little Cayman dive team, with selected questions being answered live during the broadcast! Come prepared to ask your coral reef questions.

** This event is FREE and open to local schools, tourists, and members of the public. Classes, especially years 4 and 5, are encouraged to participate. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for both in-person and virtual attendance. Donations are appreciated and support the conservation, education, outreach and restoration projects of CCMI.

This broadcast is made possible by the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation.


Impacts of isolation and protection: exploring long-term trends in coral community structure on Little Cayman Island

DATE: Monday, 5th June 2023
TIME: 6:00pm-7:00pm
LOCATION: Ambassadors of the Environment, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

Coral reefs are under continued pressure from the impacts of natural and anthropogenic stressors, leading to large-scale global shifts in coral reef ecosystems. The Caribbean has undergone extensive loss of both corals and fishes over the last 50 years, primarily from recurrent outbreaks of disease, the loss of key herbivores, overfishing, and climate induced coral bleaching. CCMI researchers have been monitoring reef community structure on an annual basis since 1999 on Little Cayman Island, tracking coral cover, diversity, colony size, and species composition as well as the density, biomass, and diversity of fish assemblages. Join us to learn what our long-running monitoring efforts tell us about the health and resiliency of these coral reefs.

** This event is FREE and open to the public. REGISTER HERE. Donations are appreciated and support the conservation, education, outreach and restoration projects of CCMI.


Once again, Ms. McDougall’s BTEC art class at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) were tasked with designing a poster in support of CCMI’s Healthy Reefs awareness campaign. This project was an assignment to students as a way to develop artistic techniques while also working with a client, allowing students to develop transferrable life skills in support of their career path in art.

During the first term of the 2022-23 school year, students practiced their techniques, spoke with CCMI staff, researched coral reefs, incorporated feedback from the client, and worked toward a final Healthy Reefs poster that was submitted as part of their portfolio for the course.

Visit this virtual art gallery of the posters designed by these talented students of Ms. McDougall’s class. We hope you enjoy seeing their creativity and skills at work in support of healthy coral reefs!

2022 Little Cayman Healthy Reef Report Card

Since 1999, CCMI has conducted annual monitoring of coral reefs in Little Cayman to build a database of information about the state of coral reefs and the changes seen over time. Our 2022 surveys reveal 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.

Read the main findings in the Healthy Reef Report Card.

Actions for Healthier Oceans


Share your Stand up for Reefs pledge, connect people to the global ocean and the fact that we can all help make a difference in their future. There is one world ocean; we are all responsible for it.


Share your love of the ocean and coral reefs, get involved with local organisations that support marine protection, take part in beach clean ups, support local animal sanctuaries and make sure your local politician knows how important the ocean is to you. Your strength as a voter is your superpower. Small actions you take today can benefit coral reef ecosystems and ocean health all around the world.

Sustainable Seafood

Commercial fishing is one of the biggest pressures on the ocean and coral reef ecosystems. As a consumer, you have the power to make change. Buy sustainably, reduce your reliance upon key fish stocks like tuna and where you can, and support local sustainable fisheries. If you are travelling, check out fish that should be avoided; each nation has different stresses on their local fish populations.

Climate Change

Everyone can make a difference with climate change, but it still feels like a huge and overwhelming issue. You can make simple, impactful changes by: using green energy, reducing reliance on oil-based products, buying less stuff, supporting local, eating more fruit and veg and less animal protein, using less energy by investing in eco-friendly products in your home and for your transport choices, and if you have to fly, offsetting your carbon use.

Clean Oceans

Plastics remain a huge issue for the oceans, and over 80% of marine pollution comes from land. Reduce your reliance on plastic, recycle responsibly at every opportunity, consider using environmentally friendly cleaning and home products. Remember that all waterways are connected to the ocean; pollution from land often enters the ocean via run-off and coastal ecosystems are heavily impacted by human pollution.


We need a biodiverse ocean, with many species, to maintain the balance of the marine biosphere. It is easier than you think to help protect biodiversity by respecting protected areas, especially marine parks. Support no take and no fishing zones. Choose ocean and reef friendly products, such as pet food (which are heavily reliant upon fish). Choose sustainable travel companies and tour operators; many regions have standards that can help you identify sustainable options.


Coastal ecosystems are under pressure from the sheer volume of humans they are supporting. Support innovation and green energy, challenge development where a comprehensive environmental impact assessment has not been done. Challenge local councils and local government when you think your local ecosystem (marine or terrestrial, they are all linked) is being degraded.

Learn More

Learn more about how you can stand up for a healthier ocean environment today – and every day – through these organisations:

Cayman Islands Department of Environment

National Trust of the Cayman Islands

Mission Blue

Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Thank you to our 2023 Healthy Reefs Sponsors and Partners