Awaiting Final Permits to Sail

The fuel tanks are full, the holds are full, our equipment has been triple-checked, so we’re ready to set sail from Havana on a journey that will take us half way around the island of Cuba.We are awaiting final permits that we expect sometime tomorrow. I attached a new hose and computer to my regulator assembly and took a few breaths of compressed air, my first in too many months. That cool, dry air put a big smile on my face and reminded me why we’re here.

Our colleagues were aboard yesterday morning to finalize our expedition plan and sampling locations. They’ll be using a stereoscopic (3D) HD video system that will take close-up, high-resolution video of the coral reefs we visit for later analysis. The system provides sufficiently high-quality video as to allow for analysis of fish just a few mm long. I’m looking forward to getting acquainted with this incredible system, but mostly I just look forward to getting in…and under…the water.

Cuba Expedition Sails Wednesday May 4, 2011

The Ocean Foundation’s collaborative expedition in Cuba sets sail on Wednesday, May 4th to explore previously unexplored coral reef environments from Havana westward along Cuba’s northwestern coast and eastward to Jardines de la Reina along Cuba’s southern coast. Stay tuned for updates from the Ocean Doctor!!

Video: Cuba – A Hope Spot

This beautiful video was put together by Kip Evans, Director, Photography and Expeditions at the Sylvia Earle Alliance (SEA). See also Mountain & Sea Productions and Kip Evans Photography.

David E. Guggenheim at Jardines de la Reina, Cuba (Photo by Kip Evans)

David E. Guggenheim at Jardines de la Reina, Cuba (Photo by Kip Evans)

Dr. David E. Guggenheim is President of Ocean Doctor and directs its Cuba Conservancy program.

PBS “Nature” 2010-11 Premiere Features Dr. David E. Guggenheim’s Work in Cuba

Cuba: The Accidental Eden features  the work of Dr. David E. Guggenheim

Cuba: The Accidental Eden features the work of Dr. David E. Guggenheim

With the episode, “Cuba: The Accidental Eden,” the 2010-11 season premiere of the acclaimed PBS series, “Nature” features Dr. David E. Guggenheim, along with other Cuban and American colleagues. The episode can be viewed in its entirety online (see below) and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

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Jacques Cousteau, Fidel Castro and Cuba’s Undying Passion for the Sea

The Ocean Doctor on WebTalkRadio.net

December 6, 2010: Join The Ocean Doctor, along with Ocean Foundation Research Fellow, Fernando Bretos, on a field trip to Havana to visit with Cuba’s next-generation of marine scientists at the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas). We visit with the Center’s new director, Dr. Jorge A. Angulo Vald’s. We also visit with Dr. Julia Azanza Ricardo who directs the Center’s unique sea turtle research and conservation program in the wilds of Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve on Cuba’s western tip. For these two and their colleagues, their passion for the sea runs deep, thanks in large part to two influential people in their lives: Jacques Cousteau and Fidel Castro.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

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Cuba and the U.S. Find Friendship and Hope in the Gulf of Mexico

The Ocean Doctor on WebTalkRadio.net

October 18, 2010: After 50 years without formal diplomatic relations and no end to the last vestiges of the Cold War in sight, marine scientists and conservationists have taken matters into their own hands to form the Trinational Initiative for Marine Science and Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean, a unique partnership of Cuba, Mexico and the United States that is working past political barriers to make a difference for the waters we share and forging new friendships along the way. The Trinational Initiative recently held its fourth meeting in Sarasota, Florida and after nearly a decade of the Administration denying visas, more than 20 Cubans received their visas and participated in the meeting. The Ocean Doctor leads the meeting and shares its successes.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more…]

The Gulf of Mexico: What’s at Stake

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.

Cuba Could Be Impacted by Gulf Oil Spill

Cuba’s Northwestern Coast Along the Gulf of Mexico

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…]

A Blueprint of Collaboration ? and Friendship ? with Cuba

Nearly 60 representatives from Cuba, Mexico and the U.S. convened in Havana in October 2009 to finalize a "Plan of Action" for future collaboration in marine research and conservation focused in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean Sea

Nearly 60 representatives from Cuba, Mexico and the U.S. convened in Havana in October 2009 to finalize a "Plan of Action" for future collaboration in marine research and conservation focused in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean Sea


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…]

OMG, I Thought You Were Dead!

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.

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