Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, with scientists estimating that approximately 25 percent of marine species resides in or around these “ocean rain forests.”
This week, Anderson Cooper, a correspondent for 60 Minutes, will travel to one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, just off the coast of Florida, to report on a multimillion-dollar project by the United States Department of Defense to repair quickly deteriorating reefs.
Cooper and his colleagues examined one of the world’s healthiest and most vibrant coral reefs, known as “Gardens of the Queen,” just off the coast of Cuba in 2011, when 60 Minutes first reported on the alarming trend.
After arriving in Havana, the team traveled 12 hours by car and boat to reach a string of tiny islands 50 miles off the southern coast of Cuba. Christopher Columbus dubbed Gardens of the Queen in honor of Queen Isabella, although according to Cooper, “he probably never ever saw the genuine gardens.”
In 2011, David Guggenheim, an American marine researcher, stated on 60 Minutes, “This is the most extraordinarily well-protected and growing coral I’ve ever seen.” “Corals are in good health. The fish are numerous and healthy. There are huge sharks here as predators. This is how these ecosystems should seem. It functions as a time machine. And it is a very remarkable learning opportunity.”