Nature (Season 29) – Cuba: the Accidental Eden

Air date: 09/26/2010

THIRTEEN’s Nature travels back in time to a forgotten paradise in Cuba: the Accidental Eden, the series Season 29 premiere, on September 26 on PBS

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To launch its 29th Season, Nature travels to the forbidden island of Cuba, a tropical paradise off limits to Americans but just offshore of the United States.  Cuba’s wild splendor has been preserved by half a century of political isolation and economic stagnation.  Now it faces the pressing challenge of protecting its precious natural assets while transitioning into the 21st Century.  New economic policies on are on the horizon, and large scale tourism is bound to follow.  The U.S. government has been in recent negotiations to end its long trade embargo with Cuba.  While that has yet to happen,  Nature offers viewers unrestricted access to the crown jewel of the Caribbean in Cuba: The Accidental Eden, premiering Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).   The series’ Season 29 premiere provides a rare glimpse into the hidden world of “jumping” Cuban crocodiles and majestic coral reefs and follows scientists in their valiant endeavor to maintain and foster Cuba’s delicate ecosystems.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

“There are few accidents in nature,” said Fred Kaufman, Series Executive Producer.  “But if there is one, Cuba’s beguiling wildlife is one to behold.  And with the ongoing discussion to lift the Cuban embargo, it’s a timely film to usher in a new season of Nature.”

Decades of relative isolation have allowed Cuba’s diverse landscapes and intriguing indigenous creatures to flourish.  Just 90 miles from Florida, the island nation contains miles of untouched tropical forests, intact wetlands, and unspoiled desert coasts.  As the largest of the Caribbean islands, Cuba boasts an extensive collection of the smallest animals of their kind – including the world’s smallest bat, the smallest owl, and the tiny bee hummingbird, the smallest bird of all.  It’s also home to one of the most extensive coral reefs in the Western Hemisphere.

Along with Cuba’s rich natural beauty, Nature explores the critical conservation work of dedicated Cuban scientists, some of whom make merely $25 a month.  Among the passionate conservationists working in the field is biologist Emma Palacios Lemagne, who’s researching how polymita, Cuba’s beautiful painted snails, evolve.  Herpetologist Roberto “Tony” Ramos has the dangerous duty of tracking the rarest of crocs, the “jumping” Cuban crocodile.  Another specialist, Leonardo Valido, monitors nesting sea turtles whose hatchlings’ chances of survival are one in a thousand.  One of the few American scientists working in Cuba is marine biologist David Guggenheim.  He studies Cuba’s vast network of coral reefs, the sign of a healthy ocean.  According to scientific data, 25 percent of world’s coral reefs have disappeared due to pollution and other ecological factors.  An estimated half of the coral population will be extinct or diseased in the next 25 years.  But Cuba’s coral reefs are thriving.  To Guggenheim’s surprise, he stumbles upon a spectacular elkhorn coral, now one of the rarest corals in the world.  He and his fellow scientists hope that through their research and wise government policies, Cuba will serve as a conservation model throughout the Caribbean.

Nature’s Cuba: The Accidental Eden is a production of Partisan Pictures and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.  Written and produced by Doug Shultz.  Available in HD.  Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG for PBS.  Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer.  William Grant is Executive-in-Charge.  Major corporate support for Nature is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc.  Additional support is provided by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust and by the nation’s public television stations.

Nature has won nearly 600 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities, and environmental organizations – including 10 Emmys, three Peabodys and the first award given to a television program by the Sierra Club.  Most recently, the series won a Peabody Award for Silence of the Bees and received an Emmy nomination for Victoria Falls.

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