Havana: Scientists in Cuba have discovered the presence of a rare and exotic but harmful coastal species of cactus called Opuntia stricta, on small islets in the Caribbean nation, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.
Carlos Acevedo, a biologist at the Centre for Coastal Ecosystem Research in Cayo Coco, said the plant was found in the islets of the Gulf of Ana Maria, in the Jardines de la Reina archipelago, south of the central province of Ciego de Avila.
During a tour of the islets for the study and characterization of marine and terrestrial flora, specialists were able to identify the cactus on the sandy shores.
Acevedo said the scientists were concerned about the rapid growth of this invasive species because of its colonising potential and how harmful it was for the native flora and coastal ecosystems.
Jardines de la Reina is considered one of the best preserved marine ecosystems in the Caribbean due to the health and preservation of coral reefs.
Cuba currently has recorded 322 species of invasive plants, considered dangerous for the damage they have on biodiversity and its impact on soil quality, water and beaches.