The Cuban Reef Communities are in Excellent State

Revealing findingsof Cuba-USA joint scientific expedition

By: Mayte María Jiménez


2017-07-24 | 15:17:04 EST

Deep Cuban reef communities enjoy excellent health; housing more than 130 species of fish and 260 species of sponges and the possible existence of new organisms is object of research, as revealed by Cuban and American scientists on a route that spanned 1 430 nautical miles along the Island.

According to Director of the NationalCenter for Protected Areas Carlos Alberto Díaz Masa, a healthy environment with sufficient dissolved oxygenwas observed, which will help to have a baseline for future work on Impacts and mitigation of the effects of climate change.

The exploration was carried out in partnership with the Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology of the Atlantic UniversityInstitute of Florida and the Marine Studies Institute of the University of Miami, as released by theMinistry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA).

The Cuban side was represented by the Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana, the Institute of Marine Sciences, theNational Aquarium and the Institute of Meteorology, attached to the CITMA Environment Agency.

The survey allowed an approach to the distribution of the reefs communities at 30 and 200 meters of depth from the area where the light penetrates, to compare their health and the physical, genetic and ecological connectivity between these and with shallow reef systems, as well as with other in the southeastern United States and the Gulf of Mexico.

During the first part of the search, which included the western Cuba from Havana to Cienfuegos, scientists said they observed an amazing amount of species. Likewise, around Cayo Coco, in the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago, a record of 62 meters deep for calcified green algae (UdoteaOccidentalis) was registered, as well as 120 meters for the Anadyomene species.

The announcements are also echoed on the blog of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration of the United States Department of Commerce (NOAA).

The results also highlight the observationof a large amount of chlorophyll, which can reach 120 meters down, in each depth level - less than 150 meters -, which indicates the presence of algae, an important source of food for corals and other organisms.

Other interesting findings were the existence of non-common species in the area, such as the brown algae (Sporochnus pedunculatus), 45 meters deep in Cayo Sabinal, in the Sabana-Camagüeyarchipelago.

The scientific incursion was part of the plan of activities approved in November 2015 between the Governments of the two countries for the Implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Protected Marine Areas, signed between the National Air Oceans (NOAA) and the US National Parks Service, and Cuba’s CITMA.

Unfortunately, these experiences so enriching for theScientific community and the knowledge of the marine diversity of both Nations could be affected by the turn made by Donald Trump to the rapproachment policy initiated by Obama.

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