In an early celebration of World Oceans Day, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute gave landbound viewers an insight into Cayman’s coral reefs and a chance to go on a virtual dive.
Outlining many challenges to the health of coral reefs, including climate change, pollution, overfishing and invasive species, CCMI is inviting members of the public to take the ‘Stand Up for Reefs” pledge.
On Saturday, CCMI broadcast a special World Oceans Day event live from Little Cayman on Youtube for viewers online and at the Camana Bay Cinema.
Based on the outcomes of more than 20 years of studies of Little Cayman’s reefs, CCMI’s education specialist Fiona Ryan, speaking from a boat, said there were signs of hope for the resiliency of coral reefs.
During the broadcast, she was communicating with CCMI’s director of research, Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, who was diving beneath the boat at the Meadows dive site. Goodbody-Gringley was also able to speak, underwater, to the audiences watching the broadcast.
Viewers were able to directly ask questions via Whatsapp or Youtube chat.
Goodbody-Gringley gave details of the research that had been carried out by CCMI over more than two decades on Little Cayman.
Explaining why long-term monitoring of the reef is important, she said the research carried out on Little Cayman had shown, for example, that there had been a significant increase in the fish population on the local reefs since 1999, and specifically in the parrot fish population, which is very significant to the health of reef.
“They eat so much of all this algae… growing on the rocks here and between the corals. What’s important about this is, as they consume the algae, they are creating space for baby corals to recruit and grow and survive, and that’s because corals and algae are in direct competition for space. The recovery of the parrot fish is a great sign for the health of our coral reefs,” she said.