Source: Cayman Net News 
Advanced SCUBA divers can now assist scientists in one of several marine research projects at the Little Cayman Research Centre (LCRC), following a successful pilot programme in 2005.
LCRC is a project of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI), a Cayman Islands, UK, and US non-profit organization established to sustain the biodiversity of coral reefs through research and education.
The LCRC, located on the north side of Little Cayman is dedicated to improving and sustaining biodiversity through innovative research, education, and outreach programs.
It is the Caribbean’s newest tropical field station fringed by the world-renowned coral reefs of Bloody Bay Marine Park.
According to CCMI, the 2006 Dive With a Researcher (DWAR) Program is in full swing for Spring/Summer 2006.
“Our goal is to give divers an opportunity to become knowledgeable about coral reef conservation issues and efforts,” said Diana Schmitt, Executive Council Member of CCMI.
“By joining the DWAR program, divers assist researchers by collecting underwater data, taking photographs, and by being a dive buddy. This program provides a unique new diving experience in the Cayman Islands.”
Ms Schmitt, an avid diver and underwater photographer, added, “Divers will work first-hand on problems that are causing regional and global declines on reefs, will participate and learn what scientists are doing to work to protect them, while directly helping to fund the project you join.”
LCRC will host a significant number of scientific projects this summer, with scientists coming from the UK, EU and the US, along with college and the Caribbean Sea Camp, for high school students.
Program information, including DWAR program information is posted on the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s website at http://www.reefresearch.org .
The ongoing research is providing important long-term trends on the local reefs and is being led by Brazilian scientist and CCMI Research Associate, Dr Vania Coelho; Associate Professor of Oceanography and CCMI President, Dr Carrie Manfrino; and PhD Candidate, Marilyn Brandt.
Their work is providing insight into the regional and global decline of coral reefs.
The DWAR projects are exploring ways to directly reduce the impact of coral diseases which are the leading cause of mortality of corals, or will assist in understanding the potential of corals to repopulate the local reef.
Underwater photographers are invited to assist by bringing their equipment and help document the research.
The first project, entitled, “Cayman’s Reef Constructors: Searching for Juvenile Corals”, will run 31 May through 7 June.
“Tropical Marine Conservation Program for Divers”, a project developed as a field experience for divers to learn about conservation issues, will run 10 through 17 June.
“Coral Disease Management Pilot” will run 15 through 22 July.
Dr Manfrino received her PhD from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (University of Miami) and is president and founder of CCMI in Princeton, NJ.
Marine Ecologist, Dr Coelho, is a graduate of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and has worked at the Smithsonian Institution and Columbia University’s Biospehere II project.
Marine Biologist Marilyn Brandt is developing a unique computer model of coral diseases for her PhD at the University of Miami .
According to CCMI, the DWAR Programs are filling up quickly, so advanced divers who are interested in reserving a place or want more information are advised to contact email@example.com .
The CCMI website provides detailed information on registration, program descriptions and the Centre itself. For US taxpayers, over half of the registration fee is tax deductible.