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April 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 36, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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CSI: Cayman Islands

from the April, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you’re a fan of the CSI shows on CBS, you may want to try putting the skills they use to work underwater. The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) on Little Cayman just created a three-day Underwater CSI training course, certainly a first. The debut course was in March and Kate Pellow, CCMI’s marketing director, says the next course will be in August.

Damage and death of reefs and marine ecosystems still doesn’t get much play in court, so the Underwater CSI course was created to help identify and prosecute those who threaten reefs and marine ecosystems. It’s led by Hector Cruz-Lopez, a marine biologist, professor of forensic science at the Palm Beach State College Criminal Justice Institute. Divers learn a set of protocols and techniques for investigating, documenting and analyzing underwater crime scenes.

Pellow says the course is not intended to preach about climate change’s effect on the reefs, but to create a more effective way to prosecute bad guys doing damage underwater. “We’re not a political organization, we’re a research and education facility. The point is to understand potential threats to reefs, identify and measure specific damage to them and report these findings in a proper legal defense. Then measures can be taken to punish the guilty and hopefully prevent repetition of similar damaging actions. Reef damage and the factors attributed to it are clearly issues that need to be introduced to the legal world to ensure they’re taken seriously.”

If you want to play forensic scientist on an August dive trip, contact CCSI at, or e-mail questions to The three-day course is $1,200 and includes accommodations, all meals, airport transfer, boat, tanks and weights (nitrox is extra). A portion of the cost may be tax-deductible. But act soon because the course is limited to just eight divers.

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