Jardines de la Reina, one of the least studied archipelagos in Cuba
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- Travel and Tourism
- Ciego de Avila
- Science and Technology
- 01 / 16 / 2009
In the marine reserve he has carried out several research projects including his Doctorate en Biological Sciences with a thesis on the behavior of marine fauna in the area.
With a doctorate under his belt at age 36, Fabián has been accompanied for three years by a team of eight specialists from the CIEC, the Environmental Studies Center of Camagüe, and the Center for Marine Research at the University of Havana.
—What were your motivations to begin research on the fish at the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago?
—Little was known about the issue. There were some studies, but most of them were too descriptive. Nothing was known, for instance, about the potential of the fauna there, or whether prohibiting fishing really propitiated the growth of schools of fish. It might seem obvious, but it’s not. —
Why? —You can prohibit fishing, but, is that the only factor involved in the preservation of the fauna? A lobster larva is dragged for six months by the sea currents.
When the crustacean is born, how far is it from the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago, where it was conceived? This happens to other species: they are conceived in one place and are born somewhere else. Is this the case of the Jardines de la Reina reserve?
—Then, the reserve could be in the wrong location? —Careful. The reserve is necessary and its establishment was a priority. The objective is to help preserve species not only in the area, but also beyond its limits. That’s why its limits had to be re-established, based on the research conducted on fish.
Therefore, my objective was getting to know what was happening there.
—Tell me about the findings during the fieldwork.
We noticed that valuable fish —economically speaking— were larger than those in other areas. The number of fish also increased at the reserve.
These fish were also friendlier, but that is only an opinion, not something demonstrated.
—What would be a way to demonstrate it?
To take a census, among other actions.
—Take a census? How...? Just like that, you estimate it. You delimit an area by trusting your good intuition, that represents the 10 per cent of the schools of fish and count the number of fish.
Then based on that portion, you get the approximate number of the whole group. Even though, I insist: this is not the only method.
—What were the results? —Not only the census; other methods showed the reserve has excellent conditions: in the year, not less than 200 tons of fish go from here to other areas.
—¿Why was so important to know if a fish was more unfriendly in an area than in other?
—It was a parameter to measure the effectiveness of the reserve. It could show if they felt threatened or not in the area. The specimens inside the protected area approach us and move away peacefully.
The ones out of this area were very unfriendly. It´s was really impressive to see the way the galano de ley moved away from us.
That shark has two dorsal flippers very alike and almost the same size. That allows him to reach high speeds.
—Any real fright?
—With sharks? No; there are many legends about them. We need to get to know them and respect them; but a human being could be sometimes more dangerous than a shark; that’s the truth.
—Is Jardines de la Reina a place where species develop themselves after being conceived in another region?
—It is mainly a place where these species develop. There are many factors that contribute to this, like ocean currents and the size of the reserve: 1,000 km square. This provides wide room for the evolution of these species. This is one of the causes of such a big population.
—Then, does this Reserve favor other zones?
—We had the same doubt. There could be differences in terms of habitat or variations of the bottom of the ocean, among other factors, to bar species from the Reserve from going to other regions.
—How did you verify this?
—We pointed out two similar places located at the limits of the protected area. In one of them, we captured lots of these species, with the authorities´ concern, of course. Then, we compared this with the ones kept intact.
Two months later, we had the results. In the fishing area, the population recovered and showed the same levels of the one that had been kept intact. We were in front of a new and unknown phenomenon the effects of spillage.
I mean, the reserve was “exporting” fish to the places already emptied by men.
Therefore, it is essential to avoid poaching in the Protected Zone.
—What´s the next step after this research?
—At the Jardines de la Reina there is a lot of work left, at least, for a hundred years. The archipelago has started to show what the sea has. Plus, there, there is another mystery.
—What is that?
—The Gulf of Ana Maria, which is between the Jardines de la Reina and Ciego de Avila. What is there at the bottom? We don´t know much about it. That is a mystery we have to uncover.