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Jardines de la Reina

Jardines de la Reina

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, August 10, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, video, marine life, sustainability, environment

                                               Composite Caribbean Basin Map,  (credit: Mission Blue)

Along the Florida Keys and elsewhere in the Caribbean coral reefs are stressed and are degraded. Overfishing, pollution, elimination of key-stone predators, and tourist developments have all taken their toll on what were once vibrant marine ecosystems. In Cuba, it is a different story.

One marine park in particular, les Jardines de la Reina (the Gardens of the Queen) is a showcase of what can be accomplished by dedicated people, even with very limited gear and other resources, when policies were based upon proper conservation and restoration principals while visitation is well controlled. Located 50 miles to the west of Cuba, a series of reefs, shoals, and mangrove estuaries were set aside as a marine reserve. They have survived exploitation and still exhibit reefs as they once were along coastal zones throughout the region.

             Nautical Map, Jardines de la Reina, Cuba  (credit Jardines Marine Reserve):

Cuba's relative isolation, modest economy, and limited tourist facilities have protected the coral gardens allowing the reefs and mangroves to thrive. The park receives limited tour groups of European divers and a few US fly-fisherman but the Cuban political will and talents of marine ecologists have sustained the ecosystem. A video captured by one tour operator and shows the diversity of the reef marine life that is found there:


As word of the marine park spreads, and the numbers of Cuban visitors increases, many will wish to visit the Gardens of the Queen. Hopefully, the foresight of the people who established and maintain the reserve will continue. An opportunity exists for Jardines de la Riena to be a template for other Caribbean and Florida marine managers to restore their degraded coral gardens to health.





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