What Becomes of Cuba After the Embargo is Lifted?

Goliath Grouper and Photographer

A Critically Endangered Goliath Grouper greets a tourist photographer in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen National Park. Environmental economics demonstrated that conservation and ecotourism would result in more revenue than commercial fishing. (Photo: David E. Guggenheim)

When a foreigner sets foot in Cuba, it immediately becomes clear that this magical island is profoundly unique and has developed drastically differently than any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean. And for those who venture into its verdant mountains or below its aquamarine waves, a striking revelation awaits:  Just as the fifties-era Chevys and horse-drawn buggies portray an island seemingly frozen in time, so, too, do its exceptionally healthy and vibrant ecosystems illustrate that Cuba may have picked the perfect time in history not to follow the path of its neighbors. Indeed the past half century has seen a tragic and unprecedented decline in Caribbean coastal and marine ecosystems.

Read the full post at EcoWatch.com

EcoWatch

 

Look Who’s on the Cover of Scuba Diving Magazine!

Ocean Doctor's Cuba Travel Program is the cover story in Scuba Diving Magazine

Ocean Doctor’s Cuba Travel Program is the cover story in Scuba Diving Magazine

That’s our pal, Niño the saltwater crocodile, adorning the cover of the latest Scuba Diving Magazine! We’re proud to say that the cover story feature’s Ocean Doctor’s unique educational travel programs to Cuba and the spectacular Gardens of the Queen. We’re also proud to say that Scuba Diving Magazine readers voted Gardens of the Queen “Best Marine Park,” and with good reason. It’s the Caribbean’s largest fully-protected marine park and its health and wildlife are unmatched in the region.

Want to join us? We have space for individuals and small groups on the following dates.

  • November 19-29, 2014 (Tortuga)
  • December 2014 (exact dates/vessel TBD)
  • April 29 – May 9, 2015 (Avalon II)

Learn more about our Cuba Travel Program and contact us if you’re interested in traveling with us for the luxury learning adventure of a lifetime.

Under a license from the U.S. Treasury Department, our program allows us to take U.S. citizens and residents on these trips legally.

Activities 

[Read more...]

Save Penguins and Threatened Wildlife at Earth’s Remotest Places

 

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha, the world’s remotest inhabited island, is located in the South Atlantic

On March 16, 2011, a horrific environmental disaster occurred at the most remote inhabited island group in the world, Tristan da Cunha, that threatened the second largest concentration of seabirds in the world.

Marine scientist Dr. David E. Guggenheim, president of  Ocean Doctor, was aboard a ship that received a distress call from a Maltese freighter that had run aground at Nightingale Island. The catastrophic oil spill that ensued was captured on film, and Dr. Guggenheim has turned that footage into a film that explores this tragedy and others like it, as a warning signal and call to action to prevent future tragedies and prepare local managers for any that might occur.

The beloved  Northern Rockhopper penguin has declined 90 percent over the past 50 years and is now an endangered species

The beloved Northern Rockhopper penguin has declined 90 percent over the past 50 years and is now an endangered species

[Read more...]

The Single Word I Taught First Graders in Cuba

Cuban countrysideAt a rural Cuban elementary school nestled in the verdant mountains west of Havana, I approached the front of the class and queued up my best Spanish. The first-graders looked at me with puzzled anticipation — they don’t see many Americans entering their classroom, let alone U.S. visitors who try to get up and teach. But as soon as it was clear we were going to talk about the oceans, its was all smiles and excited participation, as if salt water is the universal language we all share and treasure.

I told the students that our lesson was about a single word: Orgulloso. It means “proud.” I told the students that they should sentirse orgulloso” — feel proud, and then I showed them why. Carrying my laptop around the class, I showed recent videos I had taken in Cuba’s pristine ocean waters of healthy corals, sharks, goliath groupers, tarpon and, to especially loud shrieks of delight, sea turtles.

[Read more...]

VIDEO: What Columbus Might Have Seen

Gardens of the Queen MapI’ve just returned from Cuba and before my wetsuit has finished drying, I am packing my bags again. Before I return to Cuba, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a short video I shot during my recent trip at Cuba’s spectacular Gardens of the Queen National Park (Jardines de la Reina), the country’s first marine park and the largest fully-protected marine reserve in the Caribbean. It may also be the healthiest marine ecosystem in the Caribbean, our closest glimpse at the pristine reefs and islands Columbus saw and named for Spain’s Queen Isabella 500 years ago.

I hope you enjoy the video, but it’s much better in person and I hope to be able to show you personally! Learn more and book your trip!

[Read more...]

ANNOUNCEMENT: Travel with Ocean Doctor to Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen!

Avalon Cuban Diving Centers
Cuba Conservancy
   

 Legal Educational Travel to Cuba for U.S. Citizens & Residents

For 13 years I have felt deeply privileged to spend much of my time in Cuba, working on research and conservation projects with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, among the most spectacularly healthy reefs I have ever beheld. One region in particular, Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen, is so staggeringly pristine and healthy – in stark contrast to many of the other coral reef ecosystems around the world – that the region was recently featured on an award-winning segment of the CBS news program, 60 Minutes, hosted by Anderson Cooper.

Gardens of the Queen MapIn a world where many of the ocean’s corals and fish populations are in decline, the marine life of Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen – the largest no-take marine reserve in the Caribbean – is thriving. The massive and strikingly beautiful Gardens of the Queen National Park is located 60 miles off the southern coast of Cuba, an archipelago comprising a chain of 250 virgin coral and mangrove islands extending along 75 miles of turquoise waters.

Due to the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, it has been virtually impossible for Americans to legally visit Cuba and the Gardens of the Queen for more than 50 years.

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Hope Beneath the Bering Sea!

A beautiful cluster of deep-sea coral, byozoans, anenome and other delicate life below 1,000 feet in the Bering Sea's Pribilof Canyon

A beautiful cluster of deep-sea coral, byozoans, anenome and other delicate life below 1,000 feet in the Bering Sea’s Pribilof Canyon

Yesterday I received wonderful news from colleague and friend, John Hocevar at Greenpeace, who has been on the front lines in Juneau seeking protection for the world’s largest underwater canyons, both in Alaska’s Bering Sea: Zhemchug Canyon and Pribilof Canyon, the “Grand Canyons” of the sea.

According to John, “the [North Pacific Fishery Management] Council unanimously adopted motions for both short term and long term measures. First, they agreed to identify coral areas in the canyons and weigh options to protect them. Second, they will develop a Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Bering Sea, with particular emphasis on the shelf break.

Following eight days of often contentious hearings and tremendous pressure from powerful industrial fishing interests, this is very welcome news and exactly what our Greenpeace-led coalition had hoped for.

Over the weeks and months ahead our coalition will have a great deal of work to do helping ensure that the Council to follows through with strong measures that will ensure the health of the Bering Sea and the fisheries it sustains.

Our Ocean Doctor action alert set a new record for the number of responses. You added your voices to thousands around the world, and for that we are deeply grateful. And I am pleased to say that your voices were heard loud and clear. According to Greenpeace’s Jackie Dragon, Council member John Henderschedt thanked all who provided comments, saying “your voices are important to this process and they’ve been heard.” From all sources, more than 100,000 individuals submitted comments!

This victory is especially important as it underscores that the oceans represent the largest public trust in the United States, and not the exclusive domain of industrial fishing or any other commercial interest. They belong to and must be stewarded by all of us. You helped us make that point loud and clear, and for that, please accept my profound thanks.

Sincerely,
David Signature
David E. Guggenheim, Ph.D.
President, Ocean Doctor
Director, Cuba Conservancy
 

Learn More:

The Worst Thing I Ever Saw Underwater

Action Alert: Grand Canyons of the Bering Sea

VIDEOS: Return to the Arctic Depths

BeringSeaCanyons.org (Greenpeace)

Spoiler alert: Fishery Council votes in favor of the Bering Sea (Greenpeace)

Return to Arctic Depths

Get Your Cape On for World Oceans Day!

Release your inner superhero

Your oceans need you. Release your inner Ocean Superhero!

June 8th is World Oceans Day, and the message from our oceans is clear: They need you!

So duck into the nearest phone booth (if you can find one) and reveal the Ocean Superhero inside! We promise you’ll look just awesome in spandex.

Just pick an ocean critter sidekick, choose your look and swear to the Deep Pledge of the Legion of Ocean Superheroes, and we’ll mint a customized mini-poster (suitable for framing of course) and provide your very own “Ocean Superhero” badge you can share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Now put those superpowers to work! And Happy World Oceans Day!

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STEP 1 of 3

Choose Your Ocean Critter Sidekick

Choose your Superhero Ocean Critter Sidekick!

STEP 2 of 3

Pick Your Ocean Superhero's Look

Choose Your Superhero Look!

STEP 3 of 3

Take-the-Pledge_w200

THE DEEP PLEDGE OF THE LEGION OF OCEAN SUPERHEROES

  1. I solemnly swear to use my superpowers responsibly to protect and restore the oceans of Planet Earth.
  2. I will take action to save the oceans, even if someone wakes me up in the middle of the night.
  3. If I eat seafood, I will eat it responsibly. I will ask many questions at restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores to be sure seafood I buy is sustainable. I'll refer people to a credible source on seafood sustainability, like Blue Ocean Institute's Seafood Guide. And I will never refer to Patagonian toothfish by its imaginary name, "Chilean seabass."
  4. If I see anyone throw plastic into the ocean, I will swoop down in my tights and cape, place my hands on my hips, and say, "Kind citizen, you have dropped plastic into the ocean where it can do harm. Please be more careful!"
  5. I will shamelessly boast to all that I am an Ocean Superhero and that our oceans need our help!

Do You Agree to the Deep Pledge of the Legion of Ocean Superheroes?

 

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The Worst Thing I Ever Saw Underwater (and Why it Matters This Week)

An enormous scar on the bottom of the Bering Sea's Pribolof Canyon at 1,000 feet left by a trawl net leaves a path of destruction miles long, having ripped corals, sponges and everything else in its path from the bottom. (Photo: David E. Guggenheim)

An enormous scar on the bottom of the Bering Sea’s Pribolof Canyon at 1,000 feet left by a trawl net leaves a path of destruction miles long, having ripped corals, sponges and everything else in its path from the bottom. (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

On Friday, August 3rd, 2007, I landed the Deepworker submersible at 1,052 feet in the second largest underwater canyon in the world, Pribilof Canyon in Alaska’s Bering Sea. In the distance, I saw the lights of the other submersible, piloted by Michelle Ridgway.

As we both sat on the bottom conducting life support checks and communicating with the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza above, I peered through the dome and saw something strange. I reported that I had landed on what appeared to be some sort of geologic stratification — unusual layers and grooves of sediment in parallel lines across my path. What in the world was this? We hadn’t seen anything like it. [Read more...]

Action Alert: Grand Canyons of the Bering Sea

 

Action Alert - Ocean Doctor

Time Remaining to Take Action:


Protect the Bering Sea’s Grand Canyons

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Background

In 2007, Greenpeace launched a groundbreaking expedition to explore the two largest underwater canyons in the world, in the heart of the Bering Sea. It was the first time manned submersibles ever entered these canyons and human eyes gazed directly upon their treasures. Ocean Doctor president, Dr. David E. Guggenheim served as a sub pilot and scientific consultant during the 2007 expedition. The expedition revealed an extraordinary tapestry of life thousands of feet below the surface, including beautiful, brightly-colored deepwater corals, sponges, anemones, octopus and fish and resulted the discovery of new species and species ranges. [Read more...]

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