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NATURE: Cuba’s Wild Revolution

Airs Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 5 at 3 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 5 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 + PBS Video App

Cuban tody perched on a branch. Zapata, Cuba.

Credit: Courtesy of © Crossing the Line Productions Ltd

Above: Cuban tody perched on a branch. Zapata, Cuba.

Get a glimpse of Cuba's spectacular wildlife and landscapes, left virtually untouched for 50 years on NATURE "Cuba's Wild Revolution."

In the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, Cuba is an island teeming with exotic biodiversity: from coral reefs pulsating with life to five-foot-long Cuban rock iguanas.

As international relations thaw, what will become of this wildlife sanctuary?

NATURE: Cuba's Wild Revolution - Preview

In the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, Cuba is an island teeming with exotic biodiversity: from coral reefs pulsating with life to five-foot-long Cuban rock iguanas. As international relations ease, what will become of this wildlife sanctuary?

Featured Creatures:

  • Green turtle
  • Bee hummingbird
  • Cuban Rock iguana
  • Tropical House gecko
  • Red land crab
  • Shark
  • Monte Iberia eleuth
  • Cuban flower bat
  • Cuban boa
  • West Indian woodpecker
  • Cuban Green woodpecker
  • Gar fish
  • Cuban crocodile

Photo credit: Courtesy of © Crossing the Line Productions Ltd

Green turtle hatchling on a sandy beach of Cayo Largo, Cuba.

Noteworthy Facts:

  • Nesting for a female Green turtle is dangerous and exhausting as they aren’t equipped for land. After two hours of digging on the shore she will lay 80-200 eggs and then leave them behind.
  • Zapata, the largest protected area in the Caribbean, is home to the Bee hummingbird, which is the smallest bird on earth. This hummingbird can beat its tiny wings 80 times per second.
  • Woodpeckers are known to kill the chicks of other woodpeckers and take over their nest.
  • Cuba has its own species of crocodile, the Cuban crocodile, which is extremely agile and can sprint almost 10 miles an hour.
  • The Monte Iberia eleuth is one of the smallest frogs in the world. A half-inch long when fully grown, this pint-size frog survives the rainforest by discouraging predators with its poisonous and foul-tasting skin.

Meet The Smallest Bird On Earth

The very smallest bird on Earth is the Bee Hummingbird, which can be found in the Zapata in Cuba. The remarkable hummingbird is barely larger than the bee it is named after and beats its tiny wings an incredible 80 times a second.

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • Breeding season is chaotic for the male Cuban Rock iguanas. The male iguanas fight each other over who gets to mate with the females. The fight is a test of strength and endurance that ends with the dominant male iguana winning the lady.
  • An army of Red land crabs are on the move towards the ocean, many carrying up to 80,000 eggs apiece that need salt water to survive. The journey is perilous; as the crabs make their way to the ocean, many of them are run over in oncoming traffic.
  • A Cuban boa enters a cave full of bats in pursuit of its next meal. In the pitch-dark cave, the snake uses its heat receptors to detect the bats, while the bats use echolocation to detect the boa. As the bats make a dash for the exit, the snake lunges to catch one and eventually succeeds. The snake then finishes off the bat with its powerful embrace, killing it in seconds.
  • Two months have passed since the mother Green turtle laid her eggs. The baby turtles have begun to hatch, and with no mother around and limited vision the hatchlings must use their sense of smell and sound to guide them to the sea. They must avoid predators, such as hawks, on the journey. On average, only one in a thousand hatchlings will make it to adulthood.

Swarm of Crab Mothers Cross Traffic to Lay Thousands of Eggs

An army of Red land crabs migrates miles as some mothers prepare to lay up to 80,000 eggs apiece. These eggs need to salt water to survive, so the mother's mission is to get to the sea in a journey fraught with danger.

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Inside NATURE – Cuba's Wild Revolution

Cuba piqued the interest of filmmakers who hoped to capture the wildlife of an island widely unknown. To capture intimate details of the nation's wildlife, filmmakers had to explore dark caves full of bats, cockroaches and boas.

Join The Conversation:

NATURE is on Facebook, and you can follow @PBSNature on Twitter. #NaturePBS

Credits:

NATURE is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and PBS. For NATURE, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Bill Murphy is series producer and Janet Hess is series editor.

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