A portrait of an often overlooked part of America—Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands—this is the little-known story of how the U.S. government, in particular the Navy, almost destroyed a pristine coral reef to provide a target for gunners. The author’s true and humorous account of his role in this sometimes bizarre tale reveals how locals, politicos, and mariners came together to save a coral reef from certain destruction, and how the need to protect the fragile marine environment can bring meaning and direction to anyone’s life, young or old.
The conservation efforts represent a perfect example of what highly motivated citizens and political leaders can achieve when taking action to protect what they love. The author, hired as captain of a small research vessel, led the underwater search for evidence of the coral reef damage that would be used to convince the U.S. government to stop its bombardment of the island.
While he did not have a direct role in the legal activities of Washington, DC, his efforts to collect factual evidence that would be used by the lawyers proved to be of immeasurable importance. His role enabled the Culebrans, the residents of this tranquil island paradise, to gather proof of the destruction, which ultimately convinced everyone—including President Nixon—to stop the carnage. This triumphant tale serves as an inspiration for anyone wanting to make a difference in environmental conservation.
Kevin McCarey is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker whose films have been shown on the National Geographic Channel, PBS, NBC, and the Turner Networks. He is also a published author. Raised in New York's Hudson Valley, Kevin McCarey attended SUNY Maritime College. During the Vietnam War, he served as a deck officer aboard merchant ships carrying "booze and bombs" to the war zone. These misadventures are recounted in Oceans Apart: The Wanderings of a Young Mariner. Later, McCarey took a job as boat captain of a research vessel in Puerto Rico. There he took part in the efforts to stop the bombing of Culebra. This led to work as an oceanographer on a variety of expeditions from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific. Since 1996, McCarey has traveled the world for National Geographic Television and Films. He has written, directed, and supervised and/or produced some eighteen films on subjects ranging from giant squid to the lions of the Kalahari. He also teaches filmmaking at the Savannah College of Art and Design.