Health of the coral reefs at the US Navy Base, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: A preliminary report based on isotopic records from gorgonians
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Specimens of the gorgonian Plexaura homomalla were sampled from several areas along the fringing reefs fronting the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Sample coverage extended from apparently healthy reefs in oceanic waters to declining reefs located in the plume of the drainage from upper parts of Guantánamo Bay. Tentacle tips were excised, and trunk sections were cut and polished. Stable isotope ratios of nitrogen (δ(15)N) and carbon indicate a strong correlation of reef health with proximity to the plume of the river. Of all the worldwide cases in which land-based sources of pollution have impacted reefs, this one may well be the most intractable. The US Navy has jurisdiction over the reefs, with the obligation to protect them, yet the threat comes down the river from Cuba.
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