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Images: In the Gardens of the Queen

WHOI and Cuban scientists completed an unprecedented joint expedition to study one of the most pristine and unexplored coral reefs in the Caribbean. A 17-person research team undertook extensive scuba-diving missions to survey the Jardines de la Reina (“Gardens of the Queen”). (Amy Apprill, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
From left, Colleen Hansel (WHOI), Maickel Armenteros (U. of Havana) and Amy Apprill (WHOI) return from a dive investigating coral reefs in the Jardines de la Reina region. Armenteros and Apprill led a joint U.S.-Cuban expedition that explored the reefs' health, corals, fish, small invertebrates, coral symbionts, seawater microorganisms, seawater chemistry, and soundscape. (Laura Weber, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
MIT-WHOI graduate student Laura Weber uses a Niskin water sampling bottle to collect seawater samples from a reef in Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina archipelago. he samples will help scientists understand variations in the chemical and microbial diversity of the seawater among different reefs and whether these variations are related to reef health. (Ashlee Lillis, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
A team of U.S. and Cuban scientists studied the most protected and pristine coral reef ecosystems in Cuba over a 23-day cruise aboard the research vessel Alucia. Scientists included (from left): Ashlee Lillis (WHOI), Susel García  Menéndez (GEOCUBA Estudios Marinos), Andrew Babbin (MIT), Amanda Ramos Romero (Universidad de la Habana), Leonardo Espinosa Pantoja (Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y la Fauna), Colleen Hansel (WHOI), Amy Apprill (WHOI), Victoria Iglesias (Instituto de Ciencias del Mar), Laura Weber (WHOI), and Maickel Armenteros (Universidad de la Habana). (Barbara MacGillivray, MacGillivray Freeman Films)
The research team investigated both the macrofauna and microbial life among the reefs. They also examined the reef “soundscape”—created by sound-producing fish and invertebrates. (Amy Apprill, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
“The coral reefs of Cuba may serve as a regional time capsule,” said WHOI scientist Amy Apprill. “An extensive national system of marine protected areas, combined with Cuba’s low population density and tourism pressure, have resulted in an ecosystem that is thought to be incomparable to any other reef in the northern Caribbean.” (Amy Apprill, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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