December 27 2011,

The Gardens of the Queen is a coral reef off the coast of Cuba that may very well be one of the most healthy and vibrant reefs in the Caribbean. Coral growth at gardens of the Queen is abundant, large fish such as sharks patrol the water, and groupers upward to 800 pounds are cruzing around. The video production by 60 Minutes is just pure eye candy of a healthy reef, but it also has a very important message.

As any reefer probably knows our reefs are dying, and they are dying fast. 25% of our world’s reefs already fell victim to climate change, pollution, ocean acidification and overfishing, the rest could follow within a couple of decades if it continues like this. With all this reef doom and gloom, the Gardens of the Queen seems to be an exception, even though it has previously experienced some bleaching it managed to recover just fine.

Whereas in the wider Caribbean 95% of our sharks are gone, at Gardens of the Queen they are abundant. The biologist in the video have a simple answer to the success of Gardens of the Queen and it is all because of conservation. With no run-off from major cities, no commercial fishing, and no swarms of tourist loitering and breaking the reefs, this reef gained a significant edge over other reefs and as a result is in such a prime condition.

The story reminds us of a TED talk we covered maybe a year back by Greg Stone, who uses the Pheonix Islands as an example of the importance and significance of reef preservation and the results is can yield. No matter what you think you know about reef conservation, the 60 Minutes segment on Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen is a must-watch.


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