This summer, students will travel with Rutgers University to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) on Little Cayman to participate in a three-week Coral Reef Internship, a program which has been in place for 26 years. Though this diminutive island is only 10 miles long and 1 mile wide, it is home to remarkable biodiversity, both in and out of the water.
The reefs surrounding Little Cayman provide an idyllic classroom environment for students as they live, study, and work alongside researchers at this remote tropical marine field station. Located on the world famous Bloody Bay Wall, CCMI runs a research program that seeks to find genuine solutions to promoting coral reef health. While students and researchers are not expected to dive to study or work in Little Cayman, the fact that this location has some of the best dive sites on its doorstep inevitably attracts research divers from all over the world.
The Coral Reef Intern program begins with intensive field trips, lectures and discussions to orient students to the marine habitats surrounding Little Cayman. Students learn about principles of tropical ecology, sustainability and management, while developing research projects, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting the results of their research at the end of their trip. Projects vary each year based upon current research themes at CCMI. Past projects have focused on coral bleaching, 3D modelling of coral reefs and assessing sponge population dynamics.
This program provides students with an excellent opportunity to gain real-life field experience while earning university course credits. They also gain insight into a potential future as a field scientist, working to understand our coral reefs and the many threats which they face. Living on a fairly remote field research facility is a wonderful opportunity for students to immerse themselves in life where sustainability is at its core. CCMI specializes in supporting early career scientists and have seen many students return throughout their education and indeed their scientific career to this exceptional research facility and hidden gem in the Caribbean.
Victoria Oriole, a 2016 Rutgers Coral Reef Intern wrote “This study abroad course opened my eyes to what I want to do and where I want to be in the future.”
Interested university students may still apply to participate in this summer’s course. The application deadline is 1 March 2018.