Little Cayman trip offers lasting memories

Cayman Prep Year 6 students had a memorable trip to the Little Cayman Research Centre.

An educational trip to Little Cayman has proved to be truly memorable for a group of George Town students.

In an end-of-year assembly held last month, Cayman Prep’s Year 6 students were asked to recall their most important memory over their seven years at the school. More than half of them were eager to mention their April trip to Little Cayman as part of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s Marine Ecology Course, which was held at the Little Cayman Research Centre.

In its mission statement, the nonprofit CCMI states its aim is to protect coral reefs for the future by strengthening understanding of what contributes to their resilience, and by reinforcing discoveries that offer hope to restore the balance of healthy coral reefs. As well as conducting scientific research, CCMI offers a number of programs for young people that support coral reef conservation.

Each year the Marine Ecology Course welcomes primary students from across the Cayman Islands for a three-day session on marine ecology, sustainability and conservation.

The students took part in a beach cleanup.
The students took part in a beach cleanup.

The course aims to show students how their lives are inextricably linked to the ocean, as the health of each depends on the other. Students are introduced to conservation topics such as coral bleaching, marine pollution and destructive fishing practices, in both worldwide and local scales. The program is intended for students who have an interest in science. During the course, the students take part in various activities such as learning how to identify fish, as well as building their knowledge about how coral reefs function and their symbiotic relationships with sea grass and mangroves, pollution and sustainability.

“They also take part in a beach cleanup,” said Cayman Prep and High School head of Year 6 Carrie Bee, who attended the programme with her students.

“It is an integral part of the course and gives the students the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of our islands.”

As well as offering an educational experience, the trip to Little Cayman often marks an independent milestone in the children’s lives as it’s the first time many have been away from home without their parents.

“It’s definitely a big step towards being responsible,” said Ms. Bee. “This is an important part of their development.”

CCMI president Carrie Manfrino was pleased with the feedback, and noted that the institute has ideas for additional activities which will be in development over the next few years. She stressed that CCMI remains keen on achieving its goal for every child to become ocean literate.

“There is still a lot to do,” she said. “But we have an exceptional education team on the ground. I can totally understand how the children will fall in love with the ocean as a result of CCMI’s command performance.”