Explore a Newly Discovered Coral Reef in Nature: Treasure of the Caribbean, Wednesday, April 26 at 8/7c on PBS
“The Cayman Crown,” first discovered in 2013 and kept secret until now, sparks hope for the future of coral around the world
Narrated by F. Murray Abraham
The year is 2013. In the waters of Belize and Guatemala, a desperate fisherman takes his small boat into the open ocean in search of fish. Encountering engine trouble, he peers over the side of his boat and can’t believe his eyes. Below is an uncharted, massive crown of rocks and corals, teeming with life. Viewers can see this natural wonder for the first time in Nature: Treasure of the Caribbean, premiering nationwide Wednesday, April 26 at 8/7c on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nature, YouTube and the PBS app.
Dubbed “The Cayman Crown,” this secret coral garden that surpasses the size of Manhattan is a refuge for a vast array of underwater life, from schools of yellow jack and blue tang to bottlenose dolphins to the critically endangered – and commercially important – Nassau grouper. Up to one-third of the globe’s coral has been lost in the past few years. While not wholly immune to the dangers that face other reefs, such as overfishing, bleaching and invasive species, this reef’s remarkable resilience is likely due to its position on the edge of the Cayman Trench. Cold currents rising from the depths sweep nutrients up to the reef and cool the corals. Additionally, the reef has an abundance of slow-growing corals that can withstand warming waters and fast-growing corals that can proliferate like weeds after bleaching events.
The Cayman Crown was given protected status in 2020 by Belize and Guatemala, but there is still much to be done to ensure its conservation. In Nature: Treasure of the Caribbean, hear from scientists and fishermen who worked together to research this reef for nearly a decade before revealing its existence to the public. From mapping the reef and cataloging its inhabitants; to pioneering new ways to use underwater acoustics to discern how fish rely on sound; to experimenting with new approaches to protect breeding fishes, their insights give hope for future reef conservation.
“This project brought together a diverse group of people from all over the world: filmmakers, scientists, and the fishing communities,” said Ana Salceda, director and producer. “Over the five years it took us to make the film, the team surmounted all kinds of challenges, from storms to bleaching events and even a global pandemic. Not only did we produce this beautiful film, but we also got the reef protected in the process. What’s really important to me is that this project has become a beacon of hope for the entire region, showcasing the enormous power of nature films to make a difference on the ground.”
“This extraordinary discovery marks a new chapter in understanding corals and in saving coral reefs worldwide," said Fred Kaufman, executive producer for Nature. “We are proud to present this film on Nature and hope this awareness leads to an increased protection of reefs around the globe.”
“We are delighted to share this thrilling discovery that reminds us the planet still holds marvelous secrets,” said biologist and Head of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios Sean B. Carroll. “What scientists learn from this resilient reef offers hope for the future of our oceans.”
Nature: Treasure of the Caribbean is a production of The WNET Group, Terra Mater Studios, BelugaSmile Productions and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios in co-production with Doclights/NDR Naturfilm. The documentary is produced and directed by Ana Salceda and edited by Mark Fletcher. For HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, John Rubin and Sean B. Carroll are Executive Producers. For Terra Mater Studios, Ivo Filatsch and Sabine Holzer are Executive Producers. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer. Bill Murphy is Series Producer and Janet Hess is Series Editor. Nature is a production of The WNET Group.
Support for Nature: Treasure of the Caribbean was provided by Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation. Series funding for Nature is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Arnhold Family in memory of Henry and Clarisse Arnhold, The Fairweather Foundation, Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao, Charles Rosenblum, Sarah and Sandra Lyu in memory of Seung and Dorothy Lyu, Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Gregg Peters Monsees Foundation, Koo and Patricia Yuen, Arlene and Milton D. Berkman, Sandra Atlas Bass, and public television viewers.
Since 1982, Nature has brought the wonders of natural history to millions of American viewers. The series has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 21 Emmys and three Peabody Awards. Nature content is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. The series is produced by The WNET Group.
About HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is a mission-driven production company that crafts exceptional films about science and nature that inspire wonder, curiosity, and hope. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the studio, a vision of biologist and author Sean B. Carroll, is uniquely positioned to shine a light on some of the most significant scientific challenges and breakthroughs of our time. Recent films include Oscar-nominated All That Breathes, the only documentary to win best documentary at both Sundance and Cannes; Emmy Award-winners The Serengeti Rules and The Farthest – Voyager In Space; Emmy-nominated Nature’s Fear Factor and My Garden of a Thousand Bees; and Peabody Award-winner Inventing Tomorrow. To extend the reach and impact of each film, the studio undertakes educational and public outreach efforts in partnership with mission-driven organizations. For more information, please visit WWW.TANGLEDBANKSTUDIOS.ORG.