IMMOKALEE (CBSMiami/AP) – U.S. officials say the diplomatic thaw with Cuba has led to a new collaboration with the island’s scientists to study the ghost orchid—one of the world’s rarest flowers.READ MORE: Parkland first responder weighs in on Uvalde massacre: ‘It’s gut wrenching’
Ernesto Mujica of Cuba’s Ministry of Science ECOVIDA Research Center has joined researchers from Illinois College and the University of Florida in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to study ghost orchids. The delicate blooms were the star of the book “The Orchid Thief” and the movie “Adaptation.”READ MORE: Residents fed up with Biscayne Bay parties
The five-decade-plus Cuba trade embargo and travel restrictions to the island inhibited orchid researchers in both countries from sharing data.
Mujica waited two years for a U.S. visa to visit Florida before his application was approved this year.MORE NEWS: 'Hidden Worlds': An immersive voyage into deepest oceans & mesmerizing mangroves through state-of-the-art technology
This month, Mujica helped document ghost orchids throughout the refuge and demonstrated long-term monitoring methods he uses in Cuba.