This video highlights the vast diversity of marine life throughout the Gulf at risk from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The video provides an underwater tour of the Gulf by sub and scuba, encompassing the U.S., Cuba and Mexico. Produced for the opening of the first State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit in 2006, it was also shown before Congress on 5/19/2010 as part of the testimony of Dr. Sylvia A. Earle.
For the most up-to-date information on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s potential impacts on Cuba, please visit our special “Cuba at Risk” page.
Since its discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the Florida straits, Cuba’s preparations for full-scale offshore oil and gas development has raised alarm in the United States, particularly in Florida where it is estimated that much of a catastrophic spill originating in Cuba would be swept by Gulf currents. Ironically, it is now Cuba that faces the threat of a massive oil spill by the United States. The disastrous oil spill from the BP Deepwater Horizon now threatens Cuba, the largest and most biologically diverse island in the Caribbean, due to those same Gulf currents. To make matters worse, the economic embargo imposed upon Cuba by the United States decades ago makes collaboration and coordination exceedingly difficult during this crisis. [Read more...]
HAVANA, Cuba — On October 25-26, 2009 the third meeting of a growing partnership of U.S, Cuban and Mexican institutions dedicated to strengthening collaboration in marine research and conservation convened in Havana, Cuba and has resulted in the near-finalization of a new five-year “Plan of Action,” a blueprint for future collaboration. The ongoing effort, led by The Ocean Foundation, the Center for International Policy, the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, and the Mexican Secretariat of the Navy has set the stage for an unprecedented level of collaboration among the three nations, including the creation of new projects and partnerships along with additional funding to support them. [Read more...]
You’ve seen it in the faces of infants when they recognize their mother’s smiling face above. You’ve seen it on the face of an old friend across the room when she suddenly recognizes you…after all those years. And Doug Shulz, producer at Partisan Pictures, saw it clearly on my face, when he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed toward an old friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 35 years.
When we humans recognize a friend, our faces convey it with a distinctive widening of the eyes. Combine that with the surprise of seeing someone we aren’t expecting to see, our eyes grow even wider, often accompanied by a cartoon-like jaw drop. Judging from Doug’s expression while observing my face, I can only imagine how wide my eyes were. Since we were 20 feet beneath Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters, it must have been difficult for him to discern between an expression of surprise and delight versus a textbook example of wide-eyed diver panic. My eyes were transfixed on my old friend with a funny name whom I hadn’t laid eyes on since I was a teenager. Larger than life, vibrant, and embracing the sun, my friend was very much alive and healthy, clearly enjoying the good life in Cuba.
Cuba has lost its Mother Ocean. Dr. María Elena Ibarra Martín, director of the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, CIM) since 1981, passed away yesterday afternoon after a month-long struggle following heart surgery. CIM is the only academic institution in Cuba where marine biologists are trained, and her loss is mourned by hundreds of her students, many of whom grew up to become her colleagues — and friends. Her selfless, tireless dedication goes far beyond words, and the impact she has made on education, conservation, and her unique model of personal integrity will no doubt endure for centuries to come. When I last saw Doctora in February, she was as busy as ever, wrestling mountains of paperwork on her desk while never letting go of her visionary perspective about conservation and education. Nor did she ever let go of her special fondness for sea turtles and her love for and dedication to her students.
The ExpeditionCasts podcast is back! The series returns with the video version of the Ocean Doctor’s popular blog post, “Attacked by the Giant Squid’s Cousins.” (You can access the video version below.) That’s big news. But the GINORMOUS news is that ExpeditionCasts returns along with a new version of Google Earth. Version 5.0 of Google Earth allows you to explore the other 70 percent of the planet — the world’s oceans — and access stunning underwater video content from around the world. We have been privileged to be a contributor to this enormous, er, GINORMOUS project, and you’ll find five ExpeditionCasts videos among the others Google Earth 5.0. Look for them in Alaska’s Bering Sea and off the northwestern coast of Cuba.
HAVANA, CUBA – Final preparations are now underway for an August expedition to explore and map one of the least known areas of the Gulf of Mexico — Cuba’s northwestern coastal waters, including Cuba’s spectacular Los Colorados barrier reef. A joint effort of the University of Havana’s Centro de Investigaciones Marinas (Center for Marine Research) and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, this, the fourth expedition in a multiyear project entitled, Proyecto Costa Noroccidental (Project of the Northwest Coast). (See Exploring, Studying Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico for details on this important effort.) The fourth expedition will concentrate study on Los Colorados, an area with remarkably healthy coral reefs, despite the alarming decline in the health of coral reefs elsewhere in the Caribbean. This research is providing the most comprehensive biological picture yet of this little-explored region, and Cuba’s healthy corals may offer important clues for protecting and restoring corals elsewhere. (See Can Cuba’s Mysteries Help Save the World’s Coral Reefs? in OceanDoctor’s Blog.) [Read more...]
Until that tranquil morning in late June 1974, the sum total of my SCUBA diving experience had been in a landlocked state, in a stifling, moldy indoor YMCA pool in the Philadelphia suburbs and a Pennsylvania quarry, flooded with icy soup-green water. Barely comprehending the new world of pungent humidity, mountainous afternoon cumulus clouds, and lush tangles of flowering succulents I experienced at water’s edge during my first visit to the Florida Keys, I was wholly unprepared later that morning when I found myself seated in sugar-white sand with 40 feet of warm, clear aquamarine water above my head. As impossibly multi-colored fish passed slowly within reach before my wide 15-year-old eyes, my gaze broadened as I marveled at the towering jetties of coral around us, living layer cakes of corals upon corals, brown and mustard rock-like structures, encrusted with brilliant red, violet and orange coralline fans and branches, swaying in the warm, nourishing current and, like eager spring blossoms, reaching toward the dancing sunlight scattered on the surface above. [Read more...]
Read any authority’s advice about blogs and you’ll see at the top of the list: “Blog regularly.” Even for someone who enjoys writing as much as I do, I don’t believe in writing for writing’s sake — I like to share original experiences and ideas, not just rehash stale news. Still, I’ve experienced quite a few blog-worthy adventures in the four months since my last post shortly after the Bering Sea Expedition, but haven’t written a single word. [Read more...]
Historic Meeting Unites Cuba and the U.S., Taking Collaboration on Ocean Research & Conservation to a New Level
CANCÚN, México — In a historic meeting co-organized and led by the Washington, DC-based Center for International Policy and the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, a group of 15 Cubans and 15 Americans met in Cancún, Mexico to develop a plan for taking joint marine research and conservation activities between the U.S. and Cuba to a new level. Collaboration between U.S. and Cuban scientists has been exceedingly difficult because of the decades-old U.S. embargo, even though research is a permitted activity and U.S. scientists are allowed to travel to Cuba. Complicated logistics and ever-changing politics have prevented all but a few U.S. institutions from successful collaborative projects in Cuba. [Read more...]