eNewsletter | eCards | Contact Us | CI Sites | Features Archive | Search | Site Map

Conservation International

Feature Stories
    Protected Areas
      & Corridors
Print Newsletter
eMail Newsletters
Books, Papers and Resources
CI Websites
Photo Galleries

Donate Now
We all have a stake in the future of life. Make an online donation now.

Caribbean depths home to biological treasures

A few hundred feet down the oceans are pitch black--yet filled with biologically important life.

Researchers at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at CI have been studying deep ocean waters, specifically those of the Caribbean biodiversity hotspot. They've found that, while coral reefs and other shallow water habitats contain extraordinary species richness, deep waters--300 feet and below--contain even more endemic or "restricted range" species, life found nowhere else. In fact, they found that the Straits of Florida and waters off the coast of Venezuela contain the highest concentrations of endemic species in the entire Atlantic Ocean basin.

"Because such species are restricted to very small places they are often at risk of going extinct. This means the deep marine environments off Florida and South America are among the most important in the Atlantic for marine conservation," says Michael Smith, co-director of CABS' Caribbean Biodiversity Initiative.

CI is using the findings to map out a 30-nation conservation corridor to safeguard marine and terrestrial biodiversity throughout the region. The initiative aims to create and strengthen both terrestrial and marine protected areas, as well as improve conservation along species' migratory paths between these areas.

"What we propose for the Caribbean is a corridor across the whole hotspot, anchored by the Straits of Florida at one end and the shores of Venezuela at the other," says CABS' Kristen Walker Painemilla, also co-director of the initiative.

Integrating conservation into tourism is a key part of the initiative, since tourism is the region's main source of income. In April, CI and partners brought tourism leaders together with representatives from academia, government and conservation groups to launch collaborative initiatives that protect Caribbean biodiversity.

Attendees pledged to work together to create more protected areas, raise biodiversity awareness and introduce sustainability into the tourism supply chain.

Keynote speakers included Sandals and Air Jamaica Chairman Butch Stewart, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President Bill Wright, leading economist Jeffrey Sachs and Sylvia Earle, executive director of CI's marine program.


© Jennifer Jeffers
School of fish off the Caribbean's Cayman Islands.

Home | About CI | Support CI | CI Newsroom | CI Library | CI Partners
© 2006 Conservation International Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Photo credits for banner images: (Greater Flamingos © Tui De Roy/Minden Pictures); (Diagonal-banded Sweetlips © Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures);
(Madagascar Aloe © Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures); (Hippo © Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures); (Hummingbird © Pete Oxford)