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Paraíso is one of the first keys in the Arrecifes Colorados, located fifteen miles from Bahía Honda that is accessible to cruising yachts with a safe entry through the reef. In June of 1998 when this study took place, Cayo. Paraíso was off limits to visiting boats, so the team’s dive was restricted to an area on the western perimeter of this key. Also characterized as an island, Paraíso is rich in history from the fabled days when Ernest Hemingway spent time there. The condition of the Acropora palmata in this area was of great interest to many coral reef scientists because of a history of abundance there.
Nearest Largest City: Bahía Honda, Pinar del Río, Cuba
Reef Relief’s 1998 Cuba Expedition studied Paraíso and found it to be dominated by a wide variety of macroalgae, exhibiting symptoms of Black Band disease and other non- specific ‘white’ coral diseases. This was the first reef to have well established coral colonies of considerable size. An interesting observation was the fact that near many coral outcroppings the Thalassia sea grass had grown right up to the edge of the coral without the presence of sandy ‘halos’ that normally surround them. The lack of a sandy halo surrounding the perimeter of the majority of coral formations indicates an absence of fish. Very few fish were observed. Many of the sea fans exhibited symptoms of aspergillosis.
During a very shallow snorkel transect, once again, macroalgae dominated the sea floor. This was a flat shelf exposed to northerly winds with quite a bit of Acropora palmata in various stages of health. The extremely shallow A. palmata was completely dead. The other A. palmata colonies appeared to be in decline. Very few Coralliophila (coral eating snails) were observed. There was a great deal of the White Plague Type II observed and much of the Acropora palmata was covered in macroalgae.
Quirolo, C. 1998. Reef Relief Marine Projects. Cuba Campaign protect living coral reef ecosystems. URL: http://www.reefrelief.org/International/Cuba/intro.html (Accessed 1 Mar., 2004).
Reef Relief Projects
Keywords: Key, Reef, Island, Arrecifes colorados, Acropora palmata, Macroalgae, White plague type II, Thalassia seagrass
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