CCMI to explore 12-Mile Bank and Pickle Bank

| 28/07/2022 | 26 Comments
Cayman News Service
Researcher using rebreather equipment

(CNS): The Little Cayman-based Central Caribbean Marine Institute has received a grant and a donation totalling more than CI$1 million, which will be used to explore two well-known seamounts (submerged islands) near the Cayman Islands. Collaborating with the Department of Environment, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, CCMI researchers will conduct extensive surveys to learn more about 12-Mile Bank and Pickle Bank, best known as great areas for fishing.

CCCM said there is “a lack of baseline knowledge about species that are present at these seamounts and in what numbers, as well as how the populations there relate to populations on Grand Cayman, the Sister Islands, and other locations in the Caribbean”.

The UK’s Darwin Plus Initiative awarded CCMI a grant of £490,000, which was matched by a private donor, Alexandria Bank Corporation (Cayman Islands), to fund the project. The research team will conduct extensive surveys and use cutting-edge technology to better understand the marine ecosystems at the two seamounts, according to a release from CCMI.

The release said that researchers will use a high-tech suite of surveying and data-gathering methods. They will carry out deep technical dives on closed-circuit rebreather diving equipment, which allows for longer dives, to conduct surveys, create detailed photomosaics and bathymetric maps, and collect water and sand samples.

These small samples will undergo Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis to study the DNA shed from skin, scales, faeces and mucus in minuscule amounts. Used in conjunction with more traditional methods like surveys and video analysis, they can provide insight into species that are present in an environment but elusive.

The funding will cover this large-scale and technically complex project over multiple years. The results from this study will help guide future management of offshore seamounts and assist with marine spatial planning for offshore zones and areas supported by the UK’s Blue Belt Programme.

CCMI said that the work is relevant to fisherfolk who use the banks as a resource and to conservation groups that aim to support the continued health of coral reefs and pelagic and predatory species.

Watch “The Lost Cayman Island” video by Curt Bowen below:

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (26)

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  1. Better Pickle that Bank or it will be rubble in less than a decade says:

    Imagine this was how the coastal reefs around Grand cayman looked in the 60s. Epic video, can’t wait for the proposal for underwater condos/aqua-scraper complete with personal submersibles and sea elevator to jetfoil terminal at the surface. The commute to my Georgetown office would be way faster than a drive from east End.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cayman should formally annex and exercise control over the Misteriosa Bank, expanding our economic zone westward. NEOC should put weather/sea state/seismic/cyclone instruments and a Buoy Cam on it.

  3. Crab Claw says:

    Well anytime they do a study that means an excuse for a ban will be right behind, maybe the best we could do for these islands is ban CCCM.

    • Kate from CCMI says:

      Hi Crab Claw – could you give an example please of where we have done a project and it has resulted in a ban? Just one would be great.

      It’s a shame you feel we should be banned. Perhaps it’s the thousands of local scholarships that we provide that offends you? Or perhaps the hundreds of peer reviewed papers that contribute to improved knowledge on coral reefs that you find worthy of banning?

      Best wishes,

      Kate from CCMI

    • Concerned Diver says:

      What a stupid comment. No words

  4. Anonymous says:

    Quick. Make a law so that DART can’t buy them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Alexandria Bank Corporation (Cayman Islands). That is a hugely generous donation to science & conservation in Cayman. Thank you.

  6. They paved Paradise.... says:

    Well done Darwin Plus and Alexandria Bank. Big thumbs up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I always wanted to dive Pickle Bank.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I recall paying Ocean Frontiers in late 1990’s for waitlist seating on a 2 tank drift dive to the Safehaven barge on 12 mile bank. Why $1 million dollars when volunteers would pay for the opportunity? Crazy.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Now they want stop us fishing there too???

    • Anonymous says:

      What else did you think this was about. They have succeeded in banning Caymanians from fishing around all three islands, now they are expanding the no fishing areas. They are very much aware of the areas around the islands where you will catch a few fish, the areas left open for fishing have traditionally been ‘dead’ areas.

    • Anon345 says:


      • Anonymous says:

        What are the fishing trips really for? Is it to burn $1000 worth of fuel in exchange for a couple lbs of spoiling fish meat; to get drunk with the bros; or to help the environment? We don’t need to eat fish, so what is the purpose in torturing them on a hook?

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t worry, never going to happen in International waters. Cayman can excercise zero restrictions or control over Pickle.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pickle Bank is not in international waters. It is either in Cuban or Cayman waters (EEZ; Exclusive Economic Zone), depending on where you draw the line. (And that is a whole other discussion, lets not go there in this thread.)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful video

  11. Gn says:

    Gn. You soon will not be able to fish there?

    • Anon345 says:

      Oh you best believe that’s what they are working towards!😡 nothing wrong with the surveying, but this will no doubt lead to them trying to stop us from fishing out there!!


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