Sharks are all around Cuba, but... don't panic!

Posted: 02-Nov-15 12:24

Scientist from the United States and Cuba are working together in various environmental projects, mainly for managing coastal ecosystems and protecting shark populations. A new plan for sharks' preservation was launched few days ago.

Sharks are all around Cuba, but... don't panic!

Even when these animals are a recurrent topic on the news, there is no reason for tourists to be worried about them. If you are looking for relaxation on the beach, you can still think of Cuba without being concerned about shark attacks...

The reason these sea creatures are now in the scope of the press is because scientist from United States and Cuba are working together in various environmental projects, mainly for managing coastal ecosystems and protecting shark populations.

Last week Nature magazine released a story that pointed out how joint efforts between scientists of both nations have had a positive impact on the supervision of the biodiversity of Cuba's coastline. The magazine interviewed the head of the Marine Conservation Group at the University of Havana Center for Marine Research, Jorge Angulo-Valdes, who declared that the partnership represents a "step forward for Cuba and the region" in terms of the management of ecosystems.

American experts are aware of how valuable strengthening ties with their counterparts in the island could be. Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, said to Nature that:

"Cuba is a kind of biodiversity epicenter for sharks."

Cuban coral reefs are considered sanctuaries for researches. The diversity of shark species around there is almost incredible. More than the half of the types of sharks that live in the Caribbean can be seen in Cuban waters. In fact, a fifth of Cuba's coastline has been declared "protected area" by the government, and there are strategies in place for introducing new regulations in this field.

Resilience of some of the island's reefs is a characteristic that makes them uncommon nowadays, when the tendency of other similar ecosystems in the world is to turn decadent. Sharks play a significant role there, helping to maintain biological balance.

Shark awareness is increasing, and on 21st October, a long-term governmental plan was launched in the island for preserving these species in cooperation with an American environmental group. This marked an important achievement after two years of work with the Environmental Defense Fund based in the US. The announcement made on 17th December 2014 form presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama about the beginning of a new era for Cuban-American diplomatic relations after a half of a century of hostilities, makes cooperation between both nations more viable than before.

Environmental and scientific groups in the US will contribute by supplying Cuban researchers with technologies and expertise. In the meantime, Cuba will send experienced fishermen to the US for identifying shark species and recording catches.

The New York Times has made an interesting follow up on the progress of shark deals. On July -when Discovery Channel also broadcast an episode of its famous Shark Week about Cuba- the newspaper released a piece about Jardines de la Reina, a marine reserve in the Southern Cuban coast, where a group of dedicated scientists are working on sustainable plans that will be beneficial not only to shark populations and the progress of science, but for the economy of fisherman and local workers, and also for the development of touristic activity in the area.


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