Posted by: reefrescue | December 10, 2009

Scientists Work To Protect Cuba’s Unspoiled Reefs

The Cuban government banned fishing over a 386-square-mile section of the island in 1997, creating what scientists say is the Caribbean’s largest marine reserve.

Off of central Cuba’s southern coast, hundreds of tiny islands stretch into the Caribbean. They are ringed with narrow beaches and thick stands of red mangrove. Cuba has some the most extensive coral reefs in the hemisphere, but political strains between Washington and Havana largely have kept American scientists away. A new partnership for marine research is trying to change that at one of Cuba’s most remote places, far from people and pollution.

It’s really a time machine here in Cuba and we’ve got another chance to look at these reefs the way they used to be. When Christopher Columbus arrived here, he named the area Los Jardines de la Reina — The Queen’s Gardens. Five centuries later, there isn’t a single town or road or permanent human presence.

Another reason the reefs appear so healthy are the dense, green thickets of mangroves that spill from the shoreline, attracting wading birds like great blue herons and roseate spoonbills who feed on the small fish living among the mangroves’ twisted roots.

See full text and photos at:

Listen to the braodcast on National Public Radio:


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