$80k sprouts from Festival of Trees

Approximately $80,000 was raised last Friday night for the Central Caribbean Marine Institute with the help of Christmas trees, holiday wreaths and a plethora of gifts from sponsors.

Suzy Soto original painting

Terry Lock is thanked for his contribution to CCMI with a Suzy Soto original painting. Photo: Cliodhna McGowan

The 2007 Festival of Trees was held at Ristorante Pappagallo on Friday, 30 November.

‘We’re extremely pleased with the results. This is the third such event and it’s gotten better every year. This year it was more than what we expected,’ said CCMI CEO Jim O’Neill on Monday following the event.

The entire evening was underwritten by Ristorante Pappagallo owner Vico Testori.

‘If it wasn’t for Vico this event would not have been as successful as it was,’ said Mr. O’Neill.

Mr. Testori was given a presentation to thank him.

CCMI supporter and helper Terry Lock was presented with a Suzy Soto original painting for all the help he has given CCMI

CCMI is a non-profit conservation organisation. Founded in 1998, it is guided by its mission to conduct and facilitate research, education, and outreach that will sustain marine diversity for future generations.

The proceeds from the night will benefit CCMI’s education and research programmes and operations including Sea Camp and the Little Cayman Research Centre.

The event saw cocktails take place before a delicious four course meal, with all the action of the live auction starting during dessert.

CCMI Chairman Peter Hillenbrand served as auctioneer, with trees, wreaths and their treasures introduced by Cynthia Hew.

In all there were 11 Christmas trees including the What Every Kid Wants tree sponsored by David and Kelly Walker, which came with a Wii, Ipod, karaoke machine, model solar home and DVDs. It went at auction for $3,000. Another popular tree was a Sea Grape Tree from Camana Bay, which included delivery and planting of it and a landscaping consultation along with various other gift vouchers. It auctioned for $4,700.

There were also seven wreaths including a Caymanian Compass wreath, with $2,000 in advertising, which went for $2,150, and an I Love New York wreath from Jim and Carol O’Neill including various New York memorabilia and Cayman Airways air tickets. This went for $1,650.

Chair of the Education Committee for CCMI Bart Hedges gave a brief rundown on some of the research and education programmes that are being worked on.

He explained that during this December the Little Cayman Research Centre will serve as the host site for a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/CCMI jointly sponsored Think Tank Workshop to discuss ocean acidification.

During 2008 CCMI will install an Integrated Coral Observing Network station at the Little Cayman Research Centre making it one of only five locations worldwide to host an ICON station. It is slated to be built in early 2008 and to be installed in June 2008 and will allow for global connections between ecological change and oceanographic conditions.

‘Correlating between the real-time oceanographic state and the coral reef ecosystem is especially important to directly connecting mass mortalities, disease outbreaks and incidences of coral bleaching.

‘The ICON station will allow users to retrieve real-time data via satellite uplink and it will allow Cayman to share data with NOAA and will enhance our own database of information,’ he said.

The project is under the direction of Dr. Carrie Manfrino, president and founder of CCMI.

During 2008, CCMI will be developing a marine science programme for grade four students in the Cayman Islands. The programme is called Ocean Literacy and CCMI’s stated goal is to make every child in the Cayman Islands ocean literate by the age of 12.

He also noted that to date over 100 Cayman students have participated in the Caribbean Sea Camp, which, this year, for the ninth consecutive year was hosted by CCMI at Little Cayman Research Centre. It is a seven-day programme for advanced high school students to learn marine ecology and environmental conservation. During 2008 the programme will be expanded to two sessions.

CCMI also hosts a one month summer internship programme for undergraduate students.

They are also working in developing a 12-week study abroad programme along with the University College of the Cayman Islands and the School of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers.

CCMI has also produced its first tangible outreach project, The Green Guide, which sets out to illustrate our link to the natural environment, as well as to inspire change, expose threats, communicate preservation and offer examples of green practices.

‘We have printed more than 4,000 copies of the Green Guide and we will be distributing them locally to homes and businesses,’ he said.

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