Editorial: Little Cayman's reef rebound

Finally we have a bit of good news from scientists about the long-term health and resilience of coral reefs.

Researchers from Little Cayman’s Central Caribbean Marine Institute have documented a remarkable rebound of Little Cayman’s coral reefs after massive bleaching presumably caused by warming ocean temperatures following the 1998 El Niño event.

Noting a similar recovery in a remote reef in Australia, scientists concluded that corals isolated from human activity may have a better chance of surviving projected effects of climate change.

The good news for coral, however, poses a dilemma for the Cayman Islands.

The study suggests that humans need to leave the reefs alone in order to help them thrive. Nevertheless, beautiful fish, vibrant reefs and inquisitive tourists drive much of Cayman’s economy. Thus the dilemma: The presence of visitors most likely helps our economy – but harms our reefs.

The conundrum is at the core of broader environmental conservation conflicts, namely what is a proper balance between exploiting our natural resources and protecting them?

But, for the moment, let’s embrace the good news that, if the study is correct, it appears that reef decline isn’t irreversible.


  1. Let’s take positives. But the way you put it is too simplistic and tourist orientated. The article also pointed out that overfishing is a big contributor. That we can control and why make a forward thinking move now and protect fish like – Parrot fish, Groupers and Sharks now to keep the bio-diversity on our reefs. These all play crucial roles in the reef ecology and have been eaten away by people to almost localised extinction for some species people on neighbouring islands. That can be controlled now.

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