[Coral-List] New wet laboratory improvements to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s research station, the Little Cayman Research Centre

CCMI manager at reefresearch.org
Wed Oct 10 11:26:35 EDT 2012

Dear Coral-List Members,

I am pleased to announce important new wet laboratory improvements to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s research station, the Little Cayman Research Centre (LCRC). CCMI was the recent recipient of a Field Station and Marine Laboratories (FSML) grant (NSF Award #1227093) that immediately doubles  and diversifies the available laboratory space to support research on a wide range of topics for visiting scientists and university groups.

Completed in 2006, the field station is a full room and board facility that can house up to 24 guests, has three indoor laboratories, a large classroom/meeting space, with boats and SCUBA facilities.  Three new laboratories are designed to enhance our capabilities for research on climate change and tropical ecosystems and will also provide multi-purpose facilities for a wide range of experiments.  Little Cayman boasts low levels of human development, well-zoned marine protected areas, a robust grouper aggregation and relatively healthy predator populations,  a biologically diverse reef system, and a small safe Caribbean community.  

Located directly on a reef protected lagoon, the new wet lab will achieve this expansion with three unique work spaces.  The labs include  a well-equipped climate-controlled lab, a screened area for experiments requiring ambient light, and an open, but fully-shaded area with ample deck space for large tanks.  We will add an additional flow-through seawater system, raceways, a variety of aquariums, sediment sorting tables, and quality deionized water.  Aquarium conditions such as flow rate, substrate, gases, and water chemistry will be easily adjustable.  New private scientists quarters will be added during this expansion. 

As with our existing buildings, we plan to construct our new labs with sustainability in mind using a combination of wind and solar power that will be integrated into our existing solar power system, passive solar heating, gray water gardens, extensive 100,000 gallon freshwater catchment and composting system. Backup power systems will be installed.

Resident research provides a historical context for reef studies. We established a Long Term Assessment and Monitoring program collecting fish, coral, and algae community data starting in 1998, and continuous oceanographic and atmospheric data via the Coral Reef Early Warning System NOAA pylon since 2009.  Resident research has also included work on juvenile grouper habitats, ocean acidification, coral disease and bleaching, and lionfish.  Visiting researchers from 7 countries have worked on physical, chemical, biological, and paleoclimatological topics.  Fourteen Master’s and PhD level projects have also been hosted in the past couple of years and we hope our new facilities will encourage more visiting scientists.  

We expect these improvements to be complete by the end of the year, and urge you to consider CCMI and the LCRC for your field research in the future. We also invite projects that will build a research collaborative network to enhance the diversity of research teams, build partnerships to improve funding, and that can result in innovations in the marine sciences.

 To find out more about booking the LCRC, please contact station manager Rob Hedges at (345) 948-1094 or manager at reefresearch.org. We look forward to seeing you in Little Cayman soon!

Carrie Manfrino, President,  Central Caribbean Marine Institute, PO Box 1461, Princeton, NJ 08542

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