HAVANA.- (ACN) Cuban and American scientists left from Havana on an expedition to study the deep coral reefs around the Caribbean island.

The research will be carried out on board the Walton Smith vessel and will run until June 13, Carlos Alberto Diaz, director of the National Center for Protected Areas (CNAP by its Spanish acronym).

He added that institutions and experts from both countries, with the approval of their respective governments, worked together for more than three months in the preparation of the expedition.

Cuban institutions include the National Aquarium, the Institute of Marine Sciences, CNAP, Marine Research Center, the Office of Fisheries Regulations and GEOCUBA Business Group, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Florida Atlantic University are the US involved entities.

The objective of the research is the analysis of the extent of deep reefs in Cuba, as well as the verification of their conservation status and physical, genetic and ecological connectivity, Diaz explained.

This initiative will allow joint investigations and exchanges of experiences and specialized publications.

This work is part of the Biennial Work Plan, included in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation for Conservation and Management of Marine Protected Areas.

That document was signed in Havana on November 18, 2015 by representatives of the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, NOAA and the National Parks Service of the US Department of Interior.