HAVANA, CUBA – Final preparations are now underway for an August expedition to explore and map one of the least known areas of the Gulf of Mexico — Cuba’s northwestern coastal waters, including Cuba’s spectacular Los Colorados barrier reef. A joint effort of the University of Havana’s Centro de Investigaciones Marinas (Center for Marine Research) and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, this, the fourth expedition in a multiyear project entitled, Proyecto Costa Noroccidental (Project of the Northwest Coast). (See Exploring, Studying Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico for details on this important effort.) The fourth expedition will concentrate study on Los Colorados, an area with remarkably healthy coral reefs, despite the alarming decline in the health of coral reefs elsewhere in the Caribbean. This research is providing the most comprehensive biological picture yet of this little-explored region, and Cuba’s healthy corals may offer important clues for protecting and restoring corals elsewhere. (See Can Cuba’s Mysteries Help Save the World’s Coral Reefs? in OceanDoctor’s Blog.)
The research vessel will depart from Havana in early- to mid-August for a planned 20-day expedition. Look for an expedition tracking page that will allow you to keep tabs on the expedition’s progress.
Last week, results from the first two expeditions were presented at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Unfortunately, out of five invited Cuban researchers, only one was granted a visa to attend the conference.