Genre: Non-fiction, Nature, Coral Reefs
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cuba reefs host apex predators and coral cover at optimal levels. While Cuban reef vitality may be linked to economic default and no shoreline development, no agricultural pesticides or fertilizers and limited human population growth, the Castro regime is aggressively developing its reef potential.
Seas to the south are now 100% shark protected.
Most Cuba travelogues advise “getting off the beaten path,” but Reef Libre examines that path, to see where it might lead as things change. Will Cuba reefs remain protected? Or is this perilous age of natural decline a last chance to see a healthy reef system?
Robert Wintner and the Snorkel Bob Jardines de la Reina Expedition herein provide narrative insight with photos and video. First stop is the baseline: Havana urban density. Down south at Cayo Largo, reef collapse seems imminent with 600 guests changing daily, and the phosphate-laden laundry water flowing directly to the deep blue sea. Will Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism step up with the Jardines de la Reina paradigm? Rising from the Golfo de Ana María, Jardines is a thousand square miles of mangrove estuary, for ages compromised by constant extraction of its biggest predators, taken as food. Protected, it now rises on the world reef stage.
A DVD comes with the book in a paper sleeve glued to the inside cover. Reef Libre, the movie, runs about an hour.
First and foremost, if it has to do with fish – I’m there. Back in high school, a very close friend introduced me to fish and I have been hooked ever since. They are so calm and soothing to one’s soul. I used to sit in my friend’s fish store after school and just sit on the floor, surrounded by tanks of fish. I love fish.
Reef Libre is more than just fish. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the amazing creatures and pictures within this book are majestic. I love just sitting and looking at the images. I try to share my love for fish with my children but they don’t find the same joy as I do being able to stare at an image of glorious salt water fish and coral reefs.
I loved that Reef Libre wasn’t just images. It wasn’t just a picture and “here is a picture of xyz”. The book is a story. It is the story of traveling to Cuba and getting the images. It’s the diving. It’s the place.
Yes, there are tons of pictures and he does caption them but they are fun captions that go with the story.
The accompanying DVD was just as amazing as the book.
The DVD is about an hour long and magnificent footage of Cuba as well as the coral reef and the inhabitants of the reef. The DVD is like a story as well and gives more information about the reef and the fish. It is a great accompaniment to the book.
I know people who would love this book and I am sure there are others who would enjoy it as much as I did!
About the Author
Best known as Snorkel Bob in Hawaii and around the world, Robert Wintner captures Cuba above and below the surface with urgency and hope. As a pioneer in fish portraiture, Wintner demonstrated social structure and etiquette in reef society. Reef Libre goes to political context, in which human folly will squander Cuba’s reefs as well—unless natural values can at last transcend political greed. As pundits joust over who did what to whom and why, Wintner ponders reef prospects in view of political changes.
Robert Wintner has authored many novels and story collections. Reef Libre is his fourth reef commentary with photos and his first overview of survival potential in a political maelstrom. He lives and works in Hawaii, still on the front lines of the campaign to stop the aquarium trade around the world.