Castro's secret reef (2016) - full transcript

Cuba's enforced isolation has resulted in the unlikeliest of marine reserves: a huge, rambling archipelago known as Jardines de la Reina, or "Gardens of the Queen." Stretching around 140 ...

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\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hNarrator:
IT’S THE LAST WILDERNESS,

HOW THE ENTIRE CARIBBEAN
\h\h\h\h\h\h\hUSED TO BE

\h\h\hBEFORE MAN LEFT
HIS DESTRUCTIVE MARK.

THIS WAS ONCE FIDEL CASTRO’S
PERSONAL DIVING PLAYGROUND,

\h\h\h\hA PLACE CALLED
GARDEN OF THE QUEENS...

A FORGOTTEN OCEAN PARADISE,

OFF LIMITS FOR 50 YEARS.

IT’S LIKE STEPPING BACK IN TIME.

EXOTIC SPECIES RARELY SEEN
\hELSEWHERE IN THE REGION

THRIVE HERE.

IT’S THE CARIBBEAN’S
LOST JURASSIC PARK,



\h\h\hBUT HOW LONG CAN THIS
PRISTINE WILDERNESS SURVIVE?



FORGOTTEN IN THE VERY HEART
\h\h\h\hOF THE CARIBBEAN SEA

\h\h\hLIES THE HUGE,
RAMBLING ARCHIPELAGO

OF JARDINES DE LA REINA.

STRETCHING AROUND 140 MILES

ALONG THE SOUTHERN
\h\hCOAST OF CUBA,

IT’S ONE OF THE LONGEST
\hBARRIER REEF SYSTEMS

IN THE WORLD.

THIS WILD AND UNTOUCHED
\h\h\h\h\h\hCUBAN REEF

\h\hIS PERHAPS THE CARIBBEAN’S
MOST IMPORTANT MARINE RESERVE.

A RESERVE THAT CAME INTO BEING

AS MUCH BY ACCIDENT
\h\h\hAS BY DESIGN.

THANKS TO FIDEL CASTRO,



IT’S BEEN A NO-GO AREA
\h\hFOR OVER 50 YEARS.

AFTER THE REVOLUTION IN 1959,

MANY CUBAN CITIZENS ATTEMPTED
\h\h\h\hTO LEAVE THE COUNTRY

ON JUST ABOUT ANYTHING
\h\h\hTHAT WOULD FLOAT,

\h\h\h\h\h\hMOST OF THEM
TRYING TO REACH FLORIDA.

TO PREVENT THIS HAPPENING,

CASTRO’S GOVERNMENT

\h\hWOULD NOT PERMIT BOATS
TO FISH THIS FAR OFFSHORE.

IF THEY HAD ENOUGH FUEL
\hTO GET HERE AND BACK,

THEY COULD JUST AS EASILY

CONTINUE THEIR JOURNEY
\h\h\h\h\h\hTO THE U.S.

\h\hSO, WHILE THE REST
OF THE REGION’S REEFS

WERE BEING OVER-EXPLOITED,

FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY,

\h\hTHIS MOST PRECIOUS
OF THE CARIBBEAN JEWELS

LAY INACCESSIBLE AND UNTOUCHED,

FORGOTTEN BY THE WORLD,

A LAST HAVEN FOR CREATURES
\h\hOF LAND, SEA, AND AIR.



DAWN,

AND DEEP INSIDE THE LAGOON,
\h\h\h\hTHINGS ARE STIRRING.

AS THE SUN CREEPS HIGHER,

\h\h\h\h\hITS FIRST LIGHT
PENETRATES THE MANGROVES,

AND HUTIA TAKE ADVANTAGE
\h\hOF ITS WARMING RAYS.

ON MAINLAND CUBA,

\h\h\h\h\hTHESE PLUMP RODENTS
HAVE BECOME VIRTUALLY EXTINCT.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hOUT HERE,
ONE OF THEIR LAST OUTPOSTS,

THEY THRIVE.

BUT WHILE THEY PEACEFULLY
\h\h\h\h\hSOAK UP THE SUN,

\hTHEIR ARCH-ENEMY
IS NEVER FAR AWAY.

HERE, IN THIS SHALLOW LAGOON,
\h\h\hTHE CROCODILE IS KING.

HE OWNS THESE ISLANDS.

NOTHING HERE WILL PREY ON HIM.

HE IS THE APEX PREDATOR

\h\hAT THE VERY TOP
OF THE FOOD CHAIN.

AMERICAN CROCODILES HAVE BEEN
AROUND FOR 240 MILLION YEARS.

AN ENDANGERED SPECIES ELSEWHERE,

\h\h\h\h\hHERE IN JARDINES,
THE POPULATION IS HEALTHY.

THEY ARE ONE OF THE PLANET’S
\h\h\h\h\h\h\hLARGEST CROCS,

\h\hGROWING TO OVER
20 FEET IN LENGTH.

\h\hWHEN DINOSAURS
ROAMED THE PLANET,

THE CROCODILE WAS STALKING
\hTHE MANGROVES AND LAGOONS

OF THE CARIBBEAN.

THE DINOSAURS ARE LONG GONE,

BUT THE CROCODILES REMAIN.

\h\h\h\hCROCODILES ARE
AIR-BREATHING REPTILES.

BUT BY REDUCING THEIR HEART RATE
TO JUST 2 OR 3 BEATS A MINUTE,

THEY CAN REMAIN UNDERWATER
\h\h\h\h\hFOR UP TO AN HOUR

ON JUST ONE BREATH OF AIR.



\hWITH A LIFE SPAN
OF UP TO 80 YEARS,

MANY OF THESE CROCODILES
\h\hWOULD HAVE BEEN HERE

DURING THE MILITARY DICTATORSHIP
OF PRESIDENT BATISTA--

\h\h\h\h\hWELL BEFORE CASTRO
FIRST SEIZED POWER FROM HIM

HALF A CENTURY AGO.

\hWHILE THE CROCODILE
DOMINATES THE LAGOON,

THE SHARK RULES THE OUTER REEF.



\hPACKS OF SILKY SHARKS
PATROL THE OPEN WATER,

\h\h\h\h\hANY HINT OF PREY
DRAWING IN LARGE NUMBERS.



IF THE HEALTH OF A SEA

\hIS SAID TO BE MEASURED
BY ITS SHARK POPULATION,

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTHEN THE OCEAN
SURROUNDING THE JARDINES REEF

IS VERY HEALTHY INDEED.



\h\h\h\h\h\hSHARKS ARE
PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE

\h\h\hTO THE IMPACTS
OF MAN’S OVERFISHING

\hDUE TO THEIR SLOW
REPRODUCTIVE CYCLE.



\hTHEY PRODUCE ONLY
A FEW YOUNG A YEAR,

AND THOSE YOUNG SHARKS
\h\h\hARE SLOW TO GROW,

SOME SPECIES TAKING 20 YEARS
\hTO REACH SEXUAL MATURITY.

MANY ARE KILLED BEFORE THEN

BY OTHER MARINE PREDATORS
\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hOR BY MAN.

[BIRD SQUAWKING]

\hTHANKS TO FIDEL CASTRO,
THIS FORGOTTEN REEF SYSTEM

\hHAS BECOME ONE OF
THEIR LAST REMAINING

CARIBBEAN STRONGHOLDS.



THE MANGROVE FORESTS OF JARDINES
ARE ITS LAND BUILDERS--

THE CREATORS OF THE ISLANDS

WHERE THE SHALLOW REEF COMES
CLOSE TO THE SEA’S SURFACE.

[BIRDS SQUAWKING]

THESE FORESTS OF THE TIDAL ZONE
ARE UNIQUE IN THE TREE WORLD.

MANGROVES HAVE EVOLVED
\h\h\hTO OCCUPY A NICHE

WHERE NOTHING ELSE
\h\hCOULD SURVIVE.

THEY ARE TREES CAPABLE OF
\hGROWING IN SALT WATER.

MANGROVES HAVE EVEN EVOLVED
A UNIQUE MEANS OF SPREADING.

\hUNLIKE THE SEEDS
OF ANY OTHER TREES,

INSIDE THE CAPSULE,

THE MANGROVE SEED
IS READY TO SPROUT

AS SOON AS IT CAN
\hATTACH TO LAND.

SO WHEN THEY FALL,

IT’S LIKE THE TREE IS GIVING
\h\hBIRTH TO A NEWBORN BABY,

READY TO GO AS SOON AS IT CAN
HOOK ITSELF TO THE SEA FLOOR.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hSOME ARE LUCKY
AND ANCHOR WHERE THEY DROP.

FOR THOSE THAT DON’T,

THE SEED POD HAS EVOLVED

\hTO FLOAT WITH THE TIDES
VERTICALLY IN THE WATER.

THAT WAY THEY ARE
\hWELL-POSITIONED

TO CATCH ONTO THE SEA FLOOR
\h\h\h\h\h\h\hAND TAKE ROOT.



\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hA NEW TREE,
SPROUTING FROM THE SEABED,

WILL BE THE FIRST OF MANY

AS THE MANGROVES SPREAD

\hAND COLONIZE ANOTHER
SECTION OF THE LAGOON.

MANGROVES ARE THE NURSERIES
\h\h\h\h\h\h\hOF THE OCEAN.

IN THE INTRICATE MESH
\h\h\hOF THEIR ROOTS,

A UNIQUE ECOSYSTEM EXISTS.

FISH COME TO BREED;

\h\hOTHER FISH LIVE OUT
THEIR WHOLE LIVES HERE,

\hWHILE JUVENILES
OF LARGER SPECIES

FIND SHELTER AND FOOD

TILL THEY’RE LARGE ENOUGH
\hTO MIGRATE TO THE REEF.

ON THIS SHALLOW REEF SYSTEM,

THE EBB AND FLOW OF THE TIDES
\h\h\h\h\h\hIS THE LIFEBLOOD.

\hHUGE SECTIONS OF THE REEF
TOTALLY DRY OUT TWICE DAILY.

FOR MANY OF THE RESIDENTS,

THE PULL OF THE OUTGOING TIDE

IS THE SIGNAL FOR MASS MOVEMENTS
FROM THE INNER LAGOON.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTHESE SARDINES
SPEND A LARGE PART OF THE DAY

\hIN THE SHELTER OF THE MANGROVES
AND THE SAFETY OF SHALLOW WATER,

WHERE FEW OF THEIR NATURAL
\hPREDATORS WILL VENTURE.

BUT AS THE TIDES START TO FLOW
AND THE CURRENTS BEGIN TO PULL,

THE SCHOOL WILL LEAVE
\h\hITS MANGROVE HAVEN

\h\h\h\hAND HEAD OUT THROUGH
THE CHANNELS TO THE OPEN SEA,

WHERE DANGER LURKS.





BENEATH JARDINES,

DEEP SLASHES AND GULLIES
\hRUN THROUGH THE REEF...

ANCIENT FRACTURES,

TUNNELS STRETCHING FOR MILES

\hFROM THE LAGOON
TO THE OPEN OCEAN

\hTHROUGH WHICH MILLIONS OF
GALLONS OF WATER PUMP DAILY,

\h\hFILLING AND THEN
DRAINING THE LAGOON.

\h\hSOME HOLES IN THE REEF
ARE LIKE DRAINS IN A BATH.

\h\h\h\h\hAS THE TIDE FALLS,
THEY EVEN CREATE WHIRLPOOLS,

DRAWING THE LAGOON WATERS

\h\h\h\h\hINTO THE LABYRINTH
OF HIDDEN CAVES AND CAVERNS.

THE VORTEX INCREASES IN POWER

AS THE OUTGOING TIDE
\h\hBECOMES A FLOOD.





AS THE TIDE CONTINUES TO EBB,

THE EXPOSED PARTS OF THE REEF

\h\h\h\hCREATE A HARSH
SUPERHEATED ENVIRONMENT

WHERE NOTHING CAN SURVIVE.

WITH THE WISDOM OF THE AGES,

\h\h\h\h\hTHE CROCODILE KNOWS
THE BEST PLACE TO CATCH PREY.

ITS MAIN DIET IS FISH,

BUT HERE IN JARDINES,

THEY SUPPLEMENT THEIR DIET
\hWITH PLUMP, JUICY HUTIAS.

\h\hTHIS LITTLE FELLOW
IS FLIRTING WITH DEATH,

THOUGH HE DOESN’T KNOW IT.

\h\hTHE CROC HAS PICKED UP THE
VIBRATION OF SOMETHING SWIMMING

AND QUICKLY LOCKS ON TO IT.



THIS TIME THE HUTIA IS LUCKY.

\h\h\h\hIT REACHES THE SAFETY
OF ANOTHER CLUMP OF MANGROVES

BEFORE THE CROC COULD STRIKE.

HE PROBABLY HAS NO IDEA
JUST HOW CLOSE HE CAME.

BUT THE PRIMEVAL PREDATOR
ISN’T THAT EASILY BEATEN.

IT GOES INTO STEALTH MODE
\h\h\h\h\h\hAND SUBMERGES.

THE CROC LUNGES.

\hTHE PANICKED RODENT
SCRAMBLES FOR SAFETY,

BUT THE CROC ISN’T BEATEN YET.



THE HUTIA HAS TO BE
\hLUCKY EVERY TIME.

THE CROC ONLY NEEDS
TO GET LUCKY ONCE.

FIDEL CASTRO WAS AN AVID DIVER
\hAND OFTEN VISITED JARDINES.

IN FACT, HIS LOVE OF DIVING

\h\h\h\h\h\hRESULTED IN
ONE OF THE MORE BIZARRE

CIA ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS.

\hGRAZING ON ALGAE
ON THE SEA FLOOR,

THIS HARMLESS HERBIVORE

COULD HAVE ONCE CHANGED
THE COURSE OF HISTORY.

\hKNOWING CASTRO’S
PASSION FOR DIVING,

THE CIA PLOTTED TO PLANT
\h\h\hAN EXPLOSIVE DEVICE

IN A CONCH SHELL,

\hBRIGHTLY COLORED
AND UNUSUAL LOOKING

\h\h\hSO IT WOULD BE SURE
TO ATTRACT HIS ATTENTION.

THE PLAN WAS NEVER
PUT INTO PRACTICE.

CASTRO CONTINUED TO DIVE,

\h\h\hUNAWARE OF HIS NEAR MISS
WITH AN EXPLODING SEA CREATURE.

\hTHIS WASN’T THE ONLY
SCUBA-RELATED ATTEMPT

ON HIS LIFE.

ANOTHER INVOLVED A WETSUIT

\h\h\h\hCONTAMINATED
WITH INFECTED SPORES.

\hTHERE WERE SO MANY
ATTEMPTS ON HIS LIFE

THAT CASTRO WAS QUOTED AS SAYING

THAT IF SURVIVING ASSASSINATION
ATTEMPTS WAS AN OLYMPIC EVENT,

HE WOULD WIN GOLD.





\h\h\h\h\hIRONICALLY,
CASTRO’S RULE IN CUBA

\h\h\h\h\h\hHAS HAD ONE
UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCE.

LIKE ALL MARINE RESERVES,

JARDINES PROVIDES A SANCTUARY
\h\h\h\h\hFOR FISH TO BREED.

\h\h\h\h\h\hSTOCKS SPILL OUT
AND FUEL NEIGHBORING REGIONS.

\hTHE U.S. HAS BENEFITTED HUGELY
FROM THIS MASSIVE MARINE RESERVE

ACROSS THE FLORIDA STRAIT.

THE FISH DON’T NEED A VISA TO
ENTER U.S. TERRITORIAL WATERS,

\hAND THE CUBAN RESERVE HAS BEEN
REPLENISHING FLORIDA FISH STOCKS

FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY.



IT’S UNUSUAL FOR A DIVER TO BE
TRYING TO TEACH A SHARK TO EAT.

\h\h\hBUT CAMERAMAN
NOEL FERNANDO LOPEZ

IS ON A ONE-MAN CRUSADE

\h\h\h\hTO COUNTER WHAT
SCIENTISTS HAVE LABELED

\h"THE MOST DISASTROUS MARINE
SPECIES INVASION EVENT EVER."

\h\h\h\h\h\hLIONFISH ARE UNWANTED
ALIEN INVADERS IN THE CARIBBEAN,

AND THEY ARE DESTROYING
\h\hNATIVE FISH STOCKS.

BY SPEARING LIONFISH

\h\hAND TRYING TO FEED THEM TO
THE SHARK OF THE JARDINES REEF,

\hNOEL’S PLAN IS TO
ENCOURAGE THE SHARKS

TO START PREYING ON THEM
\h\h\h\h\hINSTINCTIVELY.

IT’S TAKEN TIME AND PATIENCE.



\h\h\h\h\hBUT AT LAST,
IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING.

CREATURES OF THE INDO-PACIFIC,

LIONFISH FIRST ARRIVED HERE
\h\h\h\h\h\hIN THE MID-’80s.

FLORIDA FISH COLLECTORS
\h\h\h\h\h\hARE BLAMED.

\h\h\h\hAS SPECIMENS GREW
TOO BIG FOR THEIR TANKS,

SOME WERE RELEASED
INTO THE WATERWAYS.

A RECENT STUDY OF DNA EVIDENCE
SUGGESTS THAT THE WHOLE PLAGUE

\h\h\h\h\h\hCAN BE NARROWED
TO AROUND A DOZEN LIONFISH

THAT INTERBRED.

\h\hA LARGE FEMALE CAN PRODUCE
UP TO TWO MILLION EGGS PER YEAR

THAT DRIFT ON THE OCEAN CURRENTS

\hBEFORE THE SPAWN
SETTLE ON THE REEF.

SO IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG
\h\h\hFOR A FEW ALIENS

TO BECOME A SCOURGE.

GROWING UP TO A FOOT LONG,

\h\h\hPROTECTED BY AN ARRAY
OF HIGHLY VENOMOUS SPINES,

AND WITH A LIFE SPAN
\hOF UP TO 15 YEARS,

\h\h\h\h\h\hLIONFISH HERE
HAVE NO NATURAL PREDATORS

TO KEEP THEIR NUMBERS IN CHECK.

AS A RESULT, THEY’VE SPREAD
\h\h\hAT A PRODIGIOUS RATE.

VORACIOUS FEEDERS,

THEY TAKE ANYTHING
\hTHEY CAN CATCH--

NOT ONLY SMALL FISH,

BUT ALSO THE YOUNG
OF LARGER SPECIES.

\h\hTHEY HAVE DECIMATED
NATIVE FISH POPULATIONS

\h\h\hTHAT HAVE IN PLACES
BEEN REDUCED BY OVER 80%.

THEY ARE A PARTICULAR THREAT
\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hIN MANGROVES

THAT NORMALLY PROVIDE
\h\h\h\hA SAFE NURSERY

FOR THE YOUNG OF MANY FISH.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hAND THEIR SPREAD
SHOWS NO SIGN OF SLOWING DOWN.

CHANGING THE SHARKS’
\h\hFEEDING BEHAVIOR

COULD BE THE SALVATION
\h\h\h\h\hOF THE REEF.



[BIRD SQUAWKING]

FROM THE SHELTER OF THE BUSHES,

\h\hTHE HUTIA CHECKS
THAT IT’S ALL CLEAR.

AS THE SUN HAS CLIMBED
\h\hHIGHER IN THE SKY,

\h\h\h\hSHE’S VENTURED FROM
THE SAFETY OF THE MANGROVES

DOWN TO THE BEACH.

AS THE TIDE FLOWS
OUT OF THE LAGOON,

STRETCHES OF BEACH ARE EXPOSED

\h\hWHERE THE HUTIA
SCAVENGE FOR FOOD.

BUT SHE’S NOT ALONE.

THERE’S A PREHISTORIC REPTILE

\hTHAT ALSO COMES DOWN
TO THE BEACH TO FEED,

THOUGH UNLIKE THE CROCODILE,

THIS ONE IS NOT A DANGER TO HER.

THE CUBAN IGUANA

IS ONE OF THE LARGEST LIZARDS
\h\h\h\h\h\hIN THE CARIBBEAN

\h\h\hAND ALSO ONE OF
THE MOST ENDANGERED.

BUT HERE IN THE GARDEN
\h\h\h\hOF THE QUEENS,

WITHOUT ANY NATURAL PREDATORS,

THEY ARE FOUND IN ABUNDANCE.





[IGUANA HISSING]



[HUTIA SQUEAKING]

HUTIA AND IGUANA
ARE EQUALS HERE,

\hNEITHER AFRAID OF THE OTHER
AS THEY SQUABBLE OVER MORSELS.

LIKE MINI PREHISTORIC DINOSAURS,

THE IGUANA ALSO SORT OUT
\h\h\h\hTHEIR OWN ISSUES.

[TAILS SLAPPING]

[SLAP]

[SLAP]



[SNIFFING]

\h\hTIRED OF COMPETING
FOR FOOD ON THE BEACH,

THE HUTIA RETURNS TO HER HOME

IN THE LOWER BRANCHES
\h\h\hOF THE MANGROVE.

BUT ONCE AGAIN, THE CROCODILE
\hHAS SENSED HER MOVEMENTS--

THE VIBRATIONS OF THE BRANCHES
CARRYING FAR THROUGH THE WATER.

SHE’S CLOSE TO THE WATERLINE,

\h\hHOPING THE TIDE
WILL BRING WITH IT

SCRAPS OF VEGETATION TO FEED ON.

\h\hTHE HUGE KILLER MOVES
WITH INCREDIBLE STEALTH.

AS IT CLOSES IN ON HER,

\h\hITS MOVEMENTS ARE SO SUBTLE
THAT IT BARELY CAUSES A RIPPLE.

SHE’S JUST GOTTEN LUCKY,

THE EBBING TIDE HAVING CARRIED
\h\h\hWITH IT A SCRAP OF FOOD

THAT SHE’S PLUCKED
\h\hFROM THE WATER.



IT’S INCREDIBLE THAT SHE DOESN’T
SEE THIS PRIMEVAL PREDATOR.

SHE IS SO ENGROSSED
\h\h\h\hIN HER FOOD

\h\h\hTHAT HIS APPROACH
GOES TOTALLY UNNOTICED.

[SQUEAKING]

CLAMPING THE STILL STRUGGLING
\hHUTIA IN HIS POWERFUL JAWS,

THE CROCODILE CASUALLY DRAGS IT
\h\h\hDOWN TO THE LAGOON FLOOR.







THE HARSH REALITY
OF LIFE AND DEATH

IN THE GARDEN OF THE QUEENS.



[WIND WHISTLING]

FOR HOURS NOW,

PARTS OF THE INNER LAGOON
\h\h\h\h\h\hHAVE BEEN DRY,

PARCHED BY THE HEAT OF THE SUN.

BUT RELIEF COMES AT LAST.

EVENTUALLY THE TIDE CHANGES,

\h\h\h\hAND LIFE-GIVING WATER
CREEPS BACK OVER THE SHALLOWS.



AS THE TIDE FLOWS
\hINTO THE LAGOON,

\hTHOSE SAME SINKHOLES
THAT IT DRAINED OUT OF

\h\hNOW BECOME A MAGNET
FOR SCHOOLS OF SNAPPER.







\h\h\h\h\h\hTHEY’RE ATTRACTED
BY THE INCOMING TIDAL WATERS,

RICH IN FOOD AND NUTRIENTS
\h\h\hFROM THE OUTER REEF.

\h\h\h\hAT THE HEIGHT
OF THE FLOODING TIDE,

HUNDREDS OF FISH ARE SCHOOLING.



[WIND WHISTLING]

[FROGS CROAKING]

DUSK ON THE OUTER REEF,

\hAND THE SHARKS CONTINUE
THEIR RELENTLESS PATROL.

THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT

THEY’LL BE CRUISING IN THEIR
NEVER-ENDING HUNT FOR PREY.



\h\h\h\hTHE RICHNESS OF LIFE
AMONG THIS STRING OF ISLANDS

HAS RESULTED IN A CONCENTRATION

\h\h\h\hOF BIG, HEALTHY
CARIBBEAN REEF SHARKS,

\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hWELL FED
ON THE UNLIMITED FOOD SOURCE.

SHARK POPULATIONS IN MOST OTHER
REGIONS OF THE PLANET’S OCEANS

ARE IN FREEFALL,

PLUMMETING TO A TINY PROPORTION
\h\h\h\h\h\h\hOF WHAT THEY WERE

JUST TEN YEARS AGO.

BUT IN THE ABSENCE OF FISHING,

JARDINES IS ONE OF THE FEW
LOCATIONS IN THE CARIBBEAN

WHERE SHARKS SEEM TO BE
\h\hHOLDING THEIR OWN.





THE NOCTURNAL NURSE SHARK

IS AS NON-AGGRESSIVE A SHARK
\h\h\h\hAS CAN BE IMAGINED,

LAZING UNDER THE SHELTER
\h\hOF A CORAL OVERHANG,

\h\h\hWHILE A REMORA EXPLORES
ITS GILL SLITS FOR PARASITES.

ANOTHER SHARK, RATHER THAN BEING
A SCARY PREDATOR TO AVOID,

BECOMES A RUBBING BOARD

\h\h\h\h\hFOR FISH TRYING TO
RID THEMSELVES OF PARASITES

\h\h\hON THE SHARK’S
SANDPAPER-LIKE SKIN.



\h\h\h\h\hTHE JARDINES HAVE
MANY DIFFERING ECOSYSTEMS.

THE SEAGRASS MEADOWS
\h\h\hAND SAND FLATS

\h\h\hPROVIDE A HUNTING GROUND
FOR MANY CREATURES OF THE REEF.



THE FLOOR OF THE INNER LAGOON

\h\hHAS BEEN COLONIZED
BY A BIZARRE CREATURE.

\h\hUNLIKE OTHER JELLYFISH
THAT DRIFT WITH THE TIDES,

THE CASSIOPEIA,

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hCOMMONLY KNOWN
AS THE UPSIDE-DOWN JELLYFISH,

IS USUALLY SEDENTARY,

\h\h\hSETTLING UPSIDE DOWN
ON THE SHALLOW SEA FLOOR.

INTRIGUINGLY,

THIS STRANGELY EVOLVED JELLYFISH
NEEDS SUNSHINE TO SURVIVE.

WHY?

BECAUSE THE JELLYFISH
\h\h\h\hIS A FARMER,

GROWING ITS OWN FOOD
\hTO SUSTAIN ITSELF.

IN THE SHALLOW SUNLIT WATERS,

THROUGH A PROCESS
OF PHOTOSYNTHESIS,

\h\h\h\hIT GROWS ALGAE
INSIDE ITS TENTACLES,

\h\h\h\h\h\hPROVIDING ITSELF
WITH A CONSTANT FOOD SUPPLY.

A SHADOW PASSES OVER THE REEF.

A HAND-BUILT WOODEN BOAT...

\hA BATTERED RELIC
FROM DECADES PAST.

FISHERMEN HAVE ARRIVED.

LOBSTER ARE SHY CREATURES,

\hGENERALLY HIDING
IN THE REEF BY DAY.

SO IN THIS UNIQUE FISHERY,

THE TRICK IS TO PROVIDE SHELTERS
WHERE THE LOBSTER FEEL SAFE

\h\h\h\h\h\hAND PROTECTED
FROM NATURAL PREDATORS...

AT LEAST UNTIL THE FISHERMAN
\h\h\h\h\hTICKLES THEM OUT.

\hTHE TECHNIQUES OF THESE
LOBSTERMEN ARE A FAR CRY

FROM THOSE OF INDUSTRIALIZED
\h\h\h\h\h\hFISHING VESSELS.

THEY DON’T USE POTS, TRAPS,
\h\h\hOR LONG TANGLE NETS--

THE TOOLS OF LOBSTER
FISHERMEN ELSEWHERE.

THESE FISHERMAN’S TOOLS
\hCOULDN’T BE SIMPLER--

JUST A SNORKEL, MASK,

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hA TICKLE STICK
TO CHASE THEM OUT FROM COVER,

\h\h\hAND A HAND-HELD NET THAT
THE PANICKED LOBSTER JETS INTO.

[MAN SPEAKING SPANISH]

WHEN THE ROWBOAT
HAS A GOOD HAUL,

THESE ARE TAKEN BACK
TO THE MOTHER SHIP--

IN REALITY, JUST A SMALL
\h\hINSHORE FISHING BOAT.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTHIS HAS
A UNIQUELY DESIGNED HULL,

ALLOWING FRESH SEAWATER
\h\h\h\h\hTO CIRCULATE

\h\hDURING THE VOYAGE
BACK TO THE MAINLAND,

KEEPING THE CATCH
ALIVE AND HEALTHY.

\h\h\h\hTHIS SINGLE BOAT
IS THE ONLY ONE LICENSED

TO COLLECT STRICTLY CONTROLLED
\h\h\h\h\h\hNUMBERS OF LOBSTER

FROM THE JARDINES REEF.

IT’S A LOW-IMPACT,
LOW-TECH FISHERY--

MAN’S ACTIONS NOT IMPACTING
\h\h\h\hON NATURE’S BALANCE.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hAS A RESULT,
LOBSTER ARE MORE ABUNDANT HERE

\h\hTHAN ANYWHERE ELSE
IN THE CARIBBEAN SEA.

[BIRDS SQUAWKING]

\h\h\h\hBUT THE LOBSTER HAVE
OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hOUT OF THE MURK
EMERGES THE GOLIATH GROUPER,

ONE OF THE REEF’S TOP PREDATORS.

THIS ONE IS OVER 5 FEET LONG.

\hDUE TO ITS SIZE,
IT FEARS NOTHING,

NOT EVEN THE SHARKS OF THE REEF,

LIVING COMFORTABLY
\h\hALONGSIDE THEM.

IT’S LIKE A SUMO WRESTLER,

TREATING THE SHARK WITH DISDAIN,

AS MERE LIGHTWEIGHTS IN CONTRAST
TO ITS COLOSSAL BULK.



\h\hREMORAS USUALLY ATTACH
TO THE SEA’S BIGGEST FISH,

SUCH AS WHALES AND SHARKS.

\hHERE THE GROUPER
HAVE GROWN SO BIG

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTHAT THEY HAVE
THEIR OWN PERSONAL REMORAS.

THESE GIANTS OF THE REEF

\h\h\h\h\h\hHAVE BEEN FISHED
TO SUCH AN EXTENT ELSEWHERE

THAT THEY NEVER GET
THE CHANCE TO GROW

TO THE SIZE OF THE GROUPER HERE.

\h\h\hTHEIR THICK FLESHY MEAT
FETCHES EQUALLY FLESHY PRICES

\h\hIN RESORT RESTAURANTS
THROUGHOUT THE CARIBBEAN,

\h\hSO ENCOUNTERS WITH ANY
BUT THE SMALLEST ARE RARE.

HERE THEY ARE IN A POSITION
\hOF UNCHALLENGED DOMINANCE.

ITS HUGE MOUTH CREATES A VACUUM

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTHAT SUCKS IN
RATHER THAN BITES ITS PREY.





THE PROFUSION OF LOBSTER

\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hPROVIDES
AN IMPORTANT FOOD SOURCE

NOT ONLY FOR THE GOLIATH,

\h\h\h\h\h\hBUT FOR OTHER
LARGE FISH OF THE REEF--

BLACK GROUPER AND SNAPPER
\hTHAT ALSO GROW FAT HERE

ON THE PERPETUAL
LOBSTER BANQUET.



ANY LOBSTER FOOLISH ENOUGH

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTO STRAY OUT
INTO THE DAYTIME SEA FLOOR

IS FAIR GAME.



AND WHEN THE GOLIATH
\hCHOOSES HIS PREY,

NONE STAND IN HIS WAY.











[SQUAWKING]

Narrator: THE FRIGATEBIRD’S
WINGSPAN CAN EXCEED 6 FEET,

AND THEY ARE KNOWN
TO STAY IN THE AIR

FOR UP TO A WEEK.

\h\h\h\h\hBUT DESPITE THEIR
INCREDIBLE FLYING ABILITY,

FRIGATEBIRDS CAN’T SWIM,

SO MID-OCEANIC OASES
\hSUCH AS JARDINES,

WHERE THEY CAN ROOST,

ARE ESSENTIAL TO THEM.



THE COLONY HERE IS BUSIEST
\hDURING THE MATING SEASON,

\h\h\h\h\hMALES INFLATING
THEIR RED THROAT POUCHES

TO ATTRACT FEMALES IN ELABORATE
\hCOURTSHIP AERIAL ACROBATICS.



\hTHE SHARKS HAVE BECOME AGITATED
AND ARE CLEARLY IN HUNTING MODE.

SOMETHING HAS FIRED
\hTHEIR ATTENTION,

AND SURPRISINGLY,
\hIT’S A LIONFISH.



IT APPEARS THAT NOEL’S FEEDING
LESSONS TO THE RESIDENT SHARKS

ARE PAYING OFF.



WITH THE ACTION SLOWED DOWN,
IT’S CLEAR WHAT HAS HAPPENED.



ON THIS OCCASION, THE SHARK’S
OVERRIDING PREDATORY INSTINCT

WINS OUT OVER ITS SUSPICION
\hOF THIS ALIEN IN ITS SEA.

IF THE CARIBBEAN SHARKS ACTUALLY
LEARN TO FEED ON LIONFISH,

IT COULD BE THE FIRST STEP

TOWARDS RESTORING BALANCE
\h\h\h\h\h\hTO THE REGION.



AS THE TIDE STARTS TO RUN OUT
\h\hOF THE LAGOON ONCE MORE,

THE MASSIVE QUANTITY OF WATER

\h\h\h\h\hIS CHANNELED INTO
NARROW PASSAGES IN THE REEF,

AND THE CURRENT FLOWS
\h\hFAST AND POWERFUL.

\hTHIS IS THE TIME OF ONE OF
JARDINES’ FINEST SPECTACLES.

ALL THE FISH THAT HAVE
SHELTERED IN THE LAGOON

AND AMONG THE MANGROVES

\h\h\h\h\h\hARE NOW DRAWN BY
THE PRIMEVAL PULL OF THE TIDE

TOWARDS THE OPEN SEA.

BONEFISH ARE LONE HUNTERS
\hOF THE LAGOON SHALLOWS

\hBUT SCHOOL TOGETHER
TO RIDE THE CURRENTS.

AND THE SARDINES THAT HAVE BEEN
SHELTERING AMONG THE MANGROVES

ALSO START TO MOBILIZE,

\hSTREAMING OUT TO SEA
WITH THE EBBING TIDE,

HEADING TO THEIR
FEEDING GROUNDS.

PREDATORS ARE READY TO ATTACK,

\h\h\hBOTH FROM THE SEA
AND ALSO FROM THE AIR.

\h\h\hIT SEEMS AS THOUGH
EVERY FISH IN THE LAGOON

\h\h\h\h\h\hIS HEADING
IN ONE SINGLE DIRECTION

ALONG THE CHANNELS
TO THE OPEN OCEAN.

BUT DANGER LURKS JUST OUTSIDE
\h\h\h\hTHE CHANNEL ENTRANCE.

\h\h\h\h\hTHE PREDATORS
OF THE OPEN OCEAN KNOW

\h\h\h\hTHAT THE CURRENT
BRINGS WITH IT A BANQUET

AND WAIT WITH ANTICIPATION.

THE SHARKS SPRINT IN
\h\h\hFROM THE BLUE.

\h\h\h\hTHE OUTPOURING OF WATER
FLOODING FROM THE SHALLOW LAGOON

BRINGS WITH IT THEIR PREY.

WHEN PREDATOR AND PREY MEET,

\h\h\h\h\h\h\hTHE OCEAN BOILS
WITH THE FRENZY OF THE FEED.

WHALE SHARKS ATTACK FROM BELOW

AND DRIVE THE SCHOOL
\h\h\hTO THE SURFACE,

LEAVING THEM NOWHERE TO GO.

IT’S A SYNCHRONIZED BALLET

\h\h\h\h\h\hPERFORMED BY TWO
OF THE PLANET’S GREATEST FISH

AS THEY CIRCLE ROUND,
\h\hEATING THEIR FILL.







THEIR HUGE SIZE TOTALLY
DWARFS THE SILKY SHARKS

THAT HAVE ALSO COME
TO JOIN THE FEAST.





TIMELESS IN ITS DRAMA
\h\h\hAND ITS BEAUTY,

\h\h\hTHIS BALLET HAS BEEN
PERFORMED AGAIN AND AGAIN

ON CASTRO’S SECRET REEF,

BUT RARELY HAS IT BEEN WITNESSED
IN THIS REMOTE WILDERNESS.









MEANWHILE, FARTHER OUT TO SEA,

A SMALL GROUP OF SARDINES

\h\h\hHAS BEEN LOCATED
BY A PACK OF SAILFISH,

\h\h\hAMONG THE OCEAN’S
MOST EFFICIENT KILLERS.

GROWING TO AROUND
10 FEET IN LENGTH

\hAND ABLE TO ACHIEVE SPEEDS
OF UP TO 70 MILES PER HOUR,

THESE STREAMLINED HUNTERS

HAVE A DEVASTATING TURN
\h\h\hOF ACCELERATION.

THEIR HUNTING BEHAVIOR
\h\h\h\h\hIS AN EXAMPLE

\h\hOF RARELY OBSERVED
COOPERATION AMONG FISH.

\h\h\hWHEN SWIMMING, THE SAIL
IS NORMALLY KEPT FOLDED DOWN.

BUT WHEN THEY FIND PREY,
SAILFISH ACT AS A GROUP.

RAISING THEIR FINS,

MAKING THE INDIVIDUAL FISH
\h\h\h\hAPPEAR EVEN LARGER,

THE PACK USE THEIR SAILS
TO HERD A SCHOOL OF FISH

INTO AN EVER TIGHTER BALL.

\hTHEY THEN DART IN
TO SEIZE THEIR PREY.

FEW OF THE SARDINES WILL SURVIVE

\h\h\hTHIS COORDINATED
AND DEADLY ONSLAUGHT.

\h\h\h\h\h\h\h\hIT’S A SPECTACLE
THAT WAS HAPPENING IN THESE SEAS

BEFORE MANKIND WALKED THE EARTH.

BUT WITH THE BURGEONING
\h\h\h\h\hRELATIONSHIP

BETWEEN CUBA AND ITS NEIGHBOR,
\h\h\h\h\h\hTHE UNITED STATES,

IT MAY BE ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
\h\h\hBEFORE A FLOOD OF TOURISM

INTRUDES UPON THIS FORGOTTEN
\h\h\h\h\hAND FRAGILE WORLD.

IN THE MEANTIME,

THE DAILY CYCLE OF LIFE
\h\h\h\h\hAND OF DEATH

IN THE GARDEN OF THE QUEENS

CONTINUES AS IT ALWAYS HAS.