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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Jardines de la Reina

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, July 18, 2015/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, video, marine life, sustainability, environment

Along the Florida Keys and elsewhere in the Caribbean coral ecosystems have been stressed and are highly degraded. Overfishing, pollution, elimination of top reef predators, and tourist developments have all taken a heavy toll of what once were lush and vibrant underwater environments. In Cuba, it is a different story.

One marine locale in particular, Jardines de la Reina ( the Gardens of the Queen  ) is a showcase of what can be accomplished by some dedicated people, even with very limited gear and other resources, when policies were based upon reef conservation and restoration and visitation is controlled. Located 50 miles to the west of Cuba, a series of reefs, shoals, and mangrove estuaries were declared a marine reserve. They have survived exploitation so still exhibit reef ecosystems as they once were along coastal island 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 Gardens have al
lowed the reefs and mangroves to thrive. Even though they receive some tour groups from  European divers  and a few fly-fisherman from the US, the Cuban political will and the talents of the reserves marine ecologists have sustained the ecosystem in fully functioning form. A video captured by one tour operator shows the diversity of the marine life and the environment that is found there:


Recent changes in relations with the US will bring increasing number of visitors to Cuba. Many will wish to visit marine locations like the Gardens of the Queen. Hopefully the foresight of the people who established and maintain the reserve will prevail in maintaining an ecotourist opportunity that provides the visitor to experience the reefs while maintaining what has been sustained for decades by their efforts. Jardines de la Riena offer opportunities as a template for other Caribbean and Florida marine managers to restore them to environmental health.



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