CUBA The Last, Best Reefs in the World
By Robert Wintner
Political forces have kept Cuba's waters and reef habitats relatively safe over the years from tourists, economic development, and the destructive aquarium trade. But this protected world may soon be threatened as barriers to Cuba are dropped.
Reef Libre explores the untamed beauty that lies beneath the surface of the sea while examining the Cuban culture and the potential changes that may be coming as travel restrictions are lifted.
Unlike most of the world's reef systems Cuba's are alive and thriving with an abundant and vast variety of species coexisting within this self-sustaining environment. The aquarium trade has decimated most of world's reefs as "collectors" harvest species that are vital to the health and vitality of these fragile ecosystems.
The book is filled with photos of this Cuban excursion from both land and sea. Much of the land focus is Havana - the life style, the people, and the political ideologies that have shaped this land isolated from industrialization and capitalistic greed.
But the true beauty comes from the sea - images most will never see for themselves are brought vividly to life. Vibrant colors, graceful artistry that no artist's brush could ever create.
But this beauty and vibrance lies not only on the pages of this book as there is an included DVD Reef Libre The Movie. Much that can be found within this book can be seen on this DVD, but where the book offers still images the DVD captures the reef as it lives. We are brought into the very essence of the life of the reef. With over 45 minutes of video one can almost feel as if one is actually there. To experience such beauty one can only be grateful to the author, Robert Wintner and his team for allowing us to take part in the experience.
This set would make a lovely gift - perfect for the armchair world traveler, the ocean aficionado, or anyone with even a passing interest in Cuba.
I was provided a copy of this book through iRead Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.
About the Book:
Cuba reefs host apex predators and coral cover at optimal levels. While Cuban reef vitality may be linked to economic default and no shoreline development, no agricultural pesticides or fertilizers and limited human population growth, the Castro regime is aggressively developing its reef potential.
Seas to the south are now 100% shark protected.
Most Cuba travelogues advise “getting off the beaten path,” but Reef Libre examines that path, to see where it might lead as things change. Will Cuba reefs remain protected? Or is this perilous age of natural decline a last chance to see a healthy reef system?
Robert Wintner and the Snorkel Bob Jardines de la Reina Expedition herein provide narrative insight with photos and video. First stop is the baseline: Havana urban density. Down south at Cayo Largo, reef collapse seems imminent with 600 guests changing daily, and the phosphate-laden laundry water flowing directly to the deep blue sea. Will Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism step up with the Jardines de la Reina paradigm? Rising from the Golfo de Ana María, Jardines is a thousand square miles of mangrove estuary, for ages compromised by constant extraction of its biggest predators, taken as food. Protected, it now rises on the world reef stage.
A DVD comes with the book in a paper sleeve glued to the inside cover. Reef Libre, the movie, runs about an hour.
Watch the Trailer:
Robert Wintner has authored many novels and story collections. Reef Libre is his fourth reef commentary with photos and his first overview of survival potential in a political maelstrom. He lives and works in Hawaii, still on the front lines of the campaign to stop the aquarium trade around the world.
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