Book review: Reef Libre: An In-Depth Look at Cuban Exceptionalism & the Last, Best Reefs in the World by Robert Wintner


Book Details:

Book TitleReef Libre, An In-Depth Look at Cuban Exceptionalism & the Last, Best Reefs in the World by Robert Wintner
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction, 266 pages
Genre: Nature, coral reefs
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Release date: February 2015
Available for review in: print with 1 hour DVD or ebook (mobi for Kindle – but does not include DVD)
Will send books:  USA & Canada
Tour dates: Oct 19 to Nov 13, 2015
Content Rating:  G

Book Description:

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.

Buy the book:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Watch the Trailer:

Robert Wintner author pic

Meet 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.

Connect with the author:     Website  ~   Facebook

How could Communism lead to redemption in nature?
This interesting question whet my appetite for the explanation Mr. Wintner outlines in this book.  Having snorkled and studied marine biology around the world, I was excited to see Robert Wintner’s book about Cuba.  Cuba has been on my “to-do” list as a  project for a documentary, as I am a documentary photographer.  This book serves both as a travelogue and educator in the field of marine biology, Cuban politics and lifestyle of the Cuban people today.  He also wrote about local tourism and the devastation being caused in other parts of the world due to the destructive nature of the aquarium trade.  I enjoyed both the images of Havana viejo as well as the many full-page layouts of the different fish species and corals found in the Cuban reef system.
“With uncompromised reef ecosystems, marginal acidification, limited coral bleaching, no hideous effluent and no fishing pressure – including no electronic fish-finders that devastate species in other places – Cuba reefs will draw, and that draw will benefit the Cuban people.”
The writing style was simple, informal English, written much, I suspect in the way Mr. Wintner would carry on a conversation.  I felt that this did not detract from the book’s message.  I would recommend, however, (for future books) that the text be divided into two columns when on the same page as I found reading the long lines back and forth a little laborious.
The book came together with a DVD entitled “Reef Libre – The Movie”.   The dialogue was much the same as the book with excerpts from the book in the movie version.  It was very interesting and I really enjoyed learning about fish species that I wasn’t familiar with.  The explanation about the lion fish infestation in the carribean was new to me.
I will be passing on this book and DVD to another snorkler who plans to return to Cuba and I am sure he will enjoy it as much as I did.

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