On Friday, 10 May, staff at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute Research Centre in Little Cayman broke ground on a new wet lab facility, to be funded by the US National Science Foundation.
It was a doubly significant date for CCMI, given that it also marked 10 years exactly since ground was broken on the Little Cayman research station in 2003. That date also happened to mark 500 years since Christopher Columbus first sighted the Cayman Islands.
Little Cayman harbours some of the most biologically diverse systems on Earth. The Island therefore affords rich opportunities for research to address global issues such as climate change, marine protection, fisheries management and coral reef stress.
In addition to conducting research, the station was created to facilitate education and conservation, providing a bridge between these disciplines to support further knowledge and understanding of marine biodiversity.
Since it opened in 2006, the research station has hosted over 100 visiting scientists, published over 30 scientific papers, taught over 500 local students and hosted international workshops on climate change and coral conservation.
Research at the Little Cayman Research Centre has led to number of breakthroughs in marine science and the new lab, which will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean, will enable CCMI to examine one of the most pressing concerns in ocean science today: how is ocean acidification affecting the coral reef ecosystem and the different calcifying organisms across the different habitats?
Ocean Acidification is a high priority among scientists and the findings could change the way coral reefs are managed in the future.
Having started as a small entity with no facilities or full time staff in 1998, the organisation now supports a fully functioning field station, employs over 10 full time staff and brings in funding from overseas, which contribute to the Sister Islands’ economy.