Tampa Bay’s Florida Aquarium has agreed a partnership with Cuba’s National Aquarium in Havana, the first time such a deal has been struck since the US imposed a travel and trade ban in 1960 – one year after Fidel Castro came to power.

The two aquariums agreed the partnership following talks in October 2014, which has been facilitated by US and Cuban governments opening up relations for the first time in decades. 

The partnership will initially focus on Cuba’s coral reefs, with the Florida Aquarium being granted access to the Gardens of the Queen – a reef in the southern waters of Cuba off the provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila. In return, the Florida Aquarium will keep the National Aquarium of Cuba up-to-date on its research into restoring coral reefs, on which the Tampa aquarium is a world leader, teaching the Havana aquarium how to effectively grow coral in a controlled setting. 

The aquariums will meet for the first time as official partners later this year, when representatives from the Tampa marine centre travel to Cuba to take part in two conferences there – the Tri-national Initiative for Marine Research & Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico & Western Caribbean and the International Marine and Coastal Science Conference, both of which take place in November. 
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