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IMAGES: Why Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen is a Prized Marine Environment

Jardines de la Reina (English: Gardens of the Queen) is an archipelago in the southern part of Cuba, near the provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila.

It was named by Christopher Columbus in honor of the Queen of Spain. Jardines de la Reina was established as a national park. With a surfaces of 840 sq miles, it is one of Cuba’s largest protected areas.

Over the past year, citizens and organizations across the planet have nominated marine environments especially deserving of protection – known as Hope Spots – for review by Mission Blue and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Gardens of the Queen is among the newest Hope Spots announced this year. All the images below were taken in the Gardens of the Queen.

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Tarpon Alley by Amos Nachoum

Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean. Dr. Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions across the planet. While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than four percent of the ocean is protected in any way.

Grouper by Amos Nachoum

Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope due to:

  • A special abundance or diversity of species, unusual or representative species, habitats or ecosystems
  • Particular populations of rare, threatened or endemic species
  • A site with potential to reverse damage from negative human impacts
  • Spectacles of nature, g., major migration corridors or spawning grounds
  • Significant historical, cultural or spiritual values
  • Particular economic importance to the community

The idea is that anyone can nominate a site special to him or her—a site that gives HOPE. Collectively all of these Hope Spots will create a global wave of community support for ocean conservation that leaders and policy makers can’t ignore.

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Coral wonders by Michael AW
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Stingray by Scott Johnson

See more image from Scott Johnson here.

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American crocodile by Scott Johnson

Learn more about diving in Cuba here.

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Nurse shark by Scott Johnson
IMAGES: Why Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen is a Prized Marine Environment was last modified: May 3rd, 2017 by Cuba Journal