CCMI gets Disney conservation grant

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute has been awarded a US$23,400 grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to support its efforts to enhance the recovery of threatened staghorn coral.

The money will also support an experimental coral nursery in Little Cayman which is being used to grow endangered corals before transplanting them back to the reefs.

CCMI hopes the project will provide a model for restoring endangered corals on a much larger scale.

Staghorn coral populations have been devastated across the Caribbean over recent decades as a result of disease, bleaching and hurricane damage.

Carrie Manfrino, president of CCMI, said the Disney grant would enable scientists at the research center to map the extent of genetic diversity of staghorn coral around the Cayman Islands.

“This work, led by CCMI’s conservation scientist Katie Lohr, will help us better understand the potential for recovery of this species,” she said.

She said the grant would also allow the institute to increase the genetic diversity of the staghorn coral population in its experimental coral nursery.

“This will ultimately result in higher genetic diversity on the reef and more opportunities for natural reproduction among staghorn coral. The work can be used as a model for improving coral restoration methods on a much larger scale,” she said.