Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book and DVD, free of charge,from iRead book tours, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it
Have someone who LOVES snorkeling, or just looking at fish?
This book needs to be on your holiday list then!
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.
I'm not sure if we liked the book more than the video, and the book is absolutely stunning! I would actually recommend looking through the book and the amazing pictures, both underwater and on land in Cuba, and then watching the video. It's similar to seeing your friends vacation photos on their social media pages, and then getting to see the full video from their excursion, that really helps to take you there with them. Both the book and video serve as an ecological warning, as Winter takes great car to note reef species that used to be along the Florida, California and Hawaiian costs, and now are gone. Whereas in Cuba, thanks to the US embargo and lack of tourism, the reefs have been kept pristine and show us what a 'happy, comfortable' reef should look like.
The video really takes you up close, to see how they caught the pictures under water and the colors will AMAZE you. I can see why the author wanted to include the video- it brings a new dimension to the photos in the book, adding more emotion than the photos can give, and they give you a lot. The book is also a short course in Cuba history and social programs. Miss Grace was GLUED to the video literally the whole hour, writing down names of fishes and plants she wanted to look up in her encyclopedias. We were also interested in how 'show species' have been released into waters that they don't belong in, and how wildlife trafficking can also have a detrimental affect on our ocean's reefs. In some way the video reminded me of the old Mutual of Omaha wildlife shows- folksie, but with a TON of info, that keeps the whole family engaged! NOLA peeps might find themselves screaming 'nutria!' when spotting their Cuban cousins on the beach, up close and personal with the photographers, begging for food and petting with their friends the iguanas. It was definitely a surreal image! The book is one that will have friends and visitors opening it up as soon as they see it on your coffee table-there is something about the peacefulness of fish that draws everyone in, isn't there?
If you have a wildlife lover, snorkeler, or avid aquarium lover on your holiday gift list,
they will LOVE you for this book and DVD set!
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. For more info check out his Website and Facebook pages.
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