Deep Reef Refugia Hypothesis
Many MCEs worldwide appear to be thriving compared to shallow reefs. The deep reef refugia hypothesis suggests that MCEs may be less impacted from natural and anthropogenic impacts than shallow coral reefs, and may be more stable and resilient than shallow reefs. MCEs may also act as refugia for shallow reef species through the export of fish and coral larvae. However, it is now apparent that MCEs are also vulnerable to disturbances from all facets of perturbations including climate change, bottom trawling, invasive species, and pollution.
Relatively little is known about the distribution, community structure and health of Cuba’s deep mesophotic reefs despite considerable data having been reported regarding the distribution, ecology, and health of Cuba’s shallow reefs world wide. Cuba’s strong marine policies and legislation has already resulted in 105 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), covering nearly 25% of its insular shelf, yet overfishing, poaching, pollution and global warming are threats to these vulnerable ecosystems, as reefs worldwide are threatened.