Cayman islands coral reef news

This video says about itself:

13 December 2012

Central Caribbean Marine Institute Research Divers on a scientific dive during a rainstorm; on this dive we were lucky enough to spot some juvenile squid under out boat when we returned to it. Divers are surveying Elkhorn Corals in Little Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies. We are between 50′ and 60′. The dive site is called Bus Stop and we are underneath a live-aboard boat of the Aggressor Fleet in Jackson’s Bay inside the world famous Bloody Bay Marine Park. This is what we do everyday on Little Cayman.

Little Cayman is considered one of the best dive destinations in the world. We have the most pristine Coral Reef Ecosystems in the Caribbean and one of the best in the World. Researchers and scientists come from all over the world to Little Cayman to get a base reading to compare the health of their reefs back home to. This is what we do everyday on Little Cayman.

Please Visit our website at to learn more about us.

From the Cayman Compass:

Scientists explore secret of Little Cayman’s coral reef success

By: James Whittaker

30 December, 2014

What is so special about Little Cayman’s reefs? That’s the question a new $140,000 scientific study at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute will seek to answer.

Scientists want to determine why reefs around the remote island are thriving and whether there are lessons that can be adapted to help protect and maintain vital coral reef systems around the world.

The new study will look specifically at rare and endangered coral species around Little Cayman and attempt to determine why they are bucking a trend of widespread decline in coral reefs across the Caribbean.

An earlier study by CCMI showed that coral cover had been increasing around Little Cayman over the past five years.

The new project will focus specifically on evolutionary distinct and globally endangered species known as edge corals.

Dr. Kristi Foster, CCMI’s assistant director of research, said the aim is to determine the specific conditions present in Little Cayman that allow such corals to be more resilient to the threats facing reefs around the region.

“While elsewhere in the Caribbean reefs are in a state of decline, we are actually seeing an increase in coral cover. There is something special about our system here in Little Cayman,” she said.

“We are going to try to look at where we have hot spots of these edge corals and try to determine the environmental conditions that might explain why they are thriving.”

The study is partly funded through a $70,000 grant awarded by the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with the money coming from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Researchers will conduct snorkel studies around Little Cayman’s reefs, and scientists will combine the results of those surveys with temperature and atmospheric data.

The researchers will also consider Little Cayman’s relative isolation and how its small population and relative protection from overfishing and coastal pollution have affected its corals.

“The idea is that this project will help us develop a ranking system to identify which areas need higher protection, for example through Marine Protected Areas.”

She said the research could be adapted to help put protection plans in place for vulnerable reef systems in other parts of the world.

She said scientists working on the study, titled “Enhancing Capacity for Coral Reef Resilience Management in the Cayman Islands,” have already located several previously unrecorded pillar coral colonies and more than 50 colonies of staghorn and elkhorn corals.

She added, “This grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation enables us to compare the abundance and health of at-risk coral species to the habitats and environmental conditions where they thrive.

“As we learn more about the resilience of Cayman corals to bleaching, disease outbreaks, and other climate-related disturbances, we can improve ecosystem-based management and conservation.”

A deadly combination of changing ocean conditions are threatening the survival of coral reefs, new research from scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the USA, shows: here.

Scientists reveal which coral reefs can survive global warming: here.

Giving dead reefs new life with fast-growing corals: here.

Caribbean Economies Face Peril as Coral Reefs Decline: here.

Good Cayman islands wildlife news

This video is about turnstones on a Cayman islands beach.

From BirdLife:

Caribbean’s dry forest protection expanded

Wed, Jul 17, 2013

The National Trust of the Cayman Islands has acquired 8 more acres to add to the Mastic Reserve, bringing the total amount of land protected by the Trust in the Important Bird Area to 843 acres.

The reserve is home to all of Cayman Islands’ endemic orchids and forest birds including the Near Threatened Vitelline Warbler Dendroica vitellina, White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocepahala and Cuban Amazon Amazona leucocephala. It is additionally the main habitat for a critically endangered variety of Black Mastic tree Termenalia eriostachya var. margaretiae, which is unique to Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands (a UK Overseas Territory). Aiming to protect and rejuvenate a very rare habitat of great importance to Grand Cayman and its biodiversity, the Trust hopes to acquire a total of 1,397 acres, which will cost several million dollars, through additional fundraising for its Land Reserve Fund.

Established in 1992, the Mastic Reserve protects the largest contiguous area of old growth forest remaining on Grand Cayman. Representing some of the last remaining examples of the Caribbean’s lowland semi-deciduous dry forest and home to a unique variety of animals and plants, including all of Cayman’s endemic orchids, trees and birds, the Reserve has high ecological, scenic and ecotourism value.

The area of the Mastic Forest has been above water for more than two million years — as opposed to most of the island, which only emerged 125,000 years ago — so that is where the native flora and fauna evolved, noted National Trust Field Officer, Stuart Mailer. “It’s an island within an island,” he said.

According to “Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands – The Red List” by Fred Burton, the variety of Black Mastic, Termenalia eriostachya var. margaretiae (named after Margaret Barwick), was once quite widespread on the island, but by 1800 it was thought to have been harvested to extinction for its ebony-like heartwood. However, it was rediscovered in the Mastic Forest in 1991.

The National Trust maintains the Mastic Trail, a traditional path that passes through the heart of the reserve. Guided nature tours of the Trail allow visitors to experience and appreciate this national treasure. The Mastic Trail was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2013, based on reviews by their members.

“The Mastic Reserve IBA is key to the conservation of Cayman Islands biodiversity. Preserving this land is vital in protecting our native plants and animals.  The forest performs many other functions; it enhances rainfall and reduces run-off, helping to maintain our groundwater and protect our reefs and it keeps the island cooler; it removes carbon and pollutants from the atmosphere, and it provides locals and visitors alike with a unique opportunity to connect with nature,” said Mailer, who is a renowned Mastic tour guide.

Guided tours of the Mastic Trail are available Tuesday through Friday, and occasional weekends.  For details on the National Trust’s Land Reserve Fund or guided Mastic tours contact

British government neglects overseas territories wildlife

This video is called Saving the Grand Cayman Island Iguana.

From BirdLife:

UK’s most exotic natural treasures under threat from ‘legal neglect’

Tue, Mar 19, 2013

A first-ever analysis of the environmental laws across all 14 of the UK’s Overseas Territories has been published and presented to the British Government. The report, commissioned by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), reveals serious flaws in the legislation that should protect some of the most important places for UK wildlife.

The assessment comes just nine months after the UK Government published its Overseas Territories White Paper last June. In it, the Prime Minister pledged to ‘cherish the environments’ and ‘help ensure their good government’.

The UK’s Overseas Territories hold some of the world’s most remarkable environments, from pristine tropical forests like on Grand Cayman, to windswept South Atlantic islands, home to penguins and elephant seals, as well as over 90% of the threatened wildlife for which the UK is responsible.

In the new assessment, entitled ‘Environmental Governance in the UK’s Overseas Territories, a number of major gaps in environmental protection are exposed:

Five of the Territories have no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements for major developments e.g. Cayman Islands, where a major highway is proposed to cut through key old-growth forests home to the endangered blue iguana; and on Scrub Island in Anguilla a $1 billion development proposal has been given the go ahead which will involve cutting this important wildlife island in half and creating an inland marina;
Nine Territories lack strong networks of protected areas or completed implementing legislation, meaning sites such as the Centre Hills forest in Montserrat, home to the critically endangered Mountain Chicken (a giant frog) remain unprotected;
Four Territories have no marine protected areas e.g. Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas), where the development of the offshore oil industry risks pre-empting the establishment of a coherent network of marine protected areas;
In the three uninhabited Territories, where the UK Government has made a commitment to ‘exemplary environmental management’, there is a significant lack of transparency and accountability.

However, there are at least five draft bills (e.g. the Cayman National Conservation Bill 2007, the Anguilla Physical Planning Bill 2001) currently in Overseas Territories’ legislatures that would fill many of the gaps in their environmental legislation, but all have been stalled due to a lack of political will.

Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s Director of International Operations said, “Whilst some of the UK’s Overseas Territories such as Gibraltar have excellent environmental legislation, the gaps uncovered in this analysis are worrying and have the potential to allow damage to the environments and wildlife we are responsible for protecting.

“We hope this review will encourage the UK Government to fulfil its ambitions ‘to set world standards’ in the Overseas Territories and begin a programme of work to strengthen the most pressing gaps in their environmental laws. Major improvements are within reach and much can be achieved without significant additional resources.”

The report offers seven recommendations to help the Prime Minister realise his ambitions on Overseas Territories. Although the report has found a number of gaps in environmental governance, it has also discovered that some of the UK’s Territories are beacons of best practice in terms of environmental legislation. Gibraltar’s environmental legislation was rated as ‘strong’ across the board, whilst the site protection mechanisms of the British Virgin Islands, and development control procedures in St Helena, were also very good.

See also here.

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Pygmy sperm whale beaches in Cayman islands

This video is called Professor Malcolm Clarke talks about his research into Pygmy Sperm Whales.

By Norma Connolly, at

Pygmy Sperm Whale washes up at Beach Bay

08 February, 2013

A Pygmy Sperm Whale washed up at Beach Bay Thursday night.

The animal was apparently alive when local residents called to alert the Department of Environment of the stranding, but had died by the time department staff got to the beach.

Tim Austin, department deputy director, and other staff secured the whale at the site overnight.

“It measured 2.75 meters [9 feet] in length and probably weighed around 650 pounds… There were no obvious signs as to why it stranded and died but perhaps the necropsy will tell us more,” said Mr. Austin.

The whale was transported to St. Matthew’s University for a necropsy Friday morning.

The animal had lost skin from lying on the rocks and was bleeding from those wounds.

“It’s not our first stranding of this species, but it is not a common occurrence,” Mr. Austin said.

The Department of Environment has reported the stranding to the Caribbean Stranding Network and US Stranding Network and is collecting samples to assist in regional research and reporting.

“This species lives at sea in deep water feeding on deep water squid and is rarely seen due to its habit of surfacing quietly and slowly and hanging motionless in the water,” said Mr. Austin.

A comment about this, at

Posted by Banana Republic on 2/8/2013 2:08:32 PM

Last time this happened I proposed salvaging this rare whale and having the skeletal remains assembled and put on display for public viewing.

The end result was having it towed out to sea and turned into fish bait because the smell offended ‘people’ who were staying along that particular beachfront and demanded immediate relief for their self-centered selves as opposed to saving it for posterity’s sake.

They put their ‘noses’ ahead of this very infrequent opportunity rather than allowing others the chance to see something so scarce.

It’s a given that 99.99 percent of us will never see a live pygmy sperm whale in our lifetimes, along our shores, so let’s take advantage of this situation.

This creature is going along the path of the dinosaurs.

A request to St. Matthew’s University; please don’t throw this one back into the sea or the GT dump.

I’d rather see something rather than nothing.