Festival of Seas supports reef research

The ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman hotel was transformed into an underwater wonderland Saturday as the Central Caribbean Marine Institute celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Little Cayman research station, with the Festival of Seas Blue Gala. 

The event featured video messages from celebrity supporters, including entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and underwater explorer Sylvia Earle, as well as an address from the center’s president and founder Carrie Manfrino. 

Guests bid on auction items, including underwater images by award winning photographer Ellen Cuylaerts, an electric guitar signed by rock star Chrissie Hynde and a trip to Mr. Branson’s Necker Island. 

Ms. Cuylaerts, one of the co-organizers of the event, said Sunday that an estimated $100,000 had been raised, with more donations still to come in. 

Guests at the event were also updated on some of the research center’s recent work, as well as a new initiative to bring schoolchildren from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman to learn about CCMI and its work. 

Proceeds from the event help support the center’s research into the sustainability of threatened coral reef ecosystems in the region. 

President and founder of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute Carrie Manfrino, left, with Suzy Soto, center, and Cathy Church at Saturday night

President and founder of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute Carrie Manfrino, left, with Suzy Soto, center, and Cathy Church at Saturday night’s gala. – PHOTO: MAGGIE JACKSON
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