U.S.-Cuba scientific collaborations continue despite change in policy

Cuba's biodiversity is at center of U.S.-Cuba scientific teams


HAVANA – Scientists from both Cuba and the U.S. have continued to work together despite President Donald Trump's regression on U.S. relations with the Communist island. 

Cuban coral reefs are the nursery grounds for some of the grouper, snapper and other marine species that the U.S. commercial fishing industry relies on. 

Daniel Whittle runs the Cuba program for the Environmental Defense Fund, an American nonprofit conservation organization that has been working in Cuba for 17 years.

"We share migratory resources. We share sharks, sea turtles and fish," Whittle said. 

When it comes to biodiversity, Cuba is the ecological crown jewel of the Caribbean. Economic underdevelopment and the communist-run country's restrictive laws have benefited the environment. 

There are more than 4,000 tiny islands surrounding the main island that offer refuge. And there are plenty of endemic exotic species in the 211 protected areas that cover about 20 percent of the island

There are more than 6,000 species of plants and around 1,400 species of mollusks. More than 80 percent of its reptiles are unique to the island. The Cuban trogon, the Cuban pygmy owl and the Cuban tody are birds that are not found anywhere else in the world. 

The U.S.-Cuba scientific research teams that followed restoration of diplomatic relations continue to study the healthy ecosystems. 

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