As I write this, the morning sun is rising above the Gulf of Mexico
as I look north toward the Florida Keys from my vantage point near
Havana’s Malecon. When the sun sets tonight, I will be back in the
U.S. on my way back to Washington, DC. I find it most fitting to
celebrate World Oceans Day in such an international way, crossing
those rich, warm waters of the Straits of Florida that unite our
In a few minutes, I’ll be departing for Marina Hemingway where I’ll
be seeing off our partners from the University of Havana’s Center
for Marine Research on a 10-day expedition that will take our joint
project, Proyecto Costa Noroccidental (Project of the Northwestern
Coast) — the first comprehensive exploration and study of Cuba’s
Gulf of Mexico waters — into its second phase. The first phase of
our work helped create the first ecological maps of the region. The
second phase will help us understand the important connections of
the various pieces we have mapped, such as how fish like grouper
depend on shallow nearshore mangrove areas when they’re young,
then migrate offshore onto the coral reefs. This expedition foucuses
on fish populations. In September I am planning to be aboard to
participate in our next expedition that focuses on coral reefs.
On Friday I attended a lovely ceremony honoring the life of Dr. Mar?a
Elena Ibarra Mart?n at the University of Havana. It was moving to
see how many lives she touched during her 28 years as director of
the Center for Marine Research (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas).
You can read more about Dr. Ibarra in the recent New York Times
obituary and in the tribute I wrote on the Ocean Doctor blog:
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/world/americas/15ibarra.html?_r=1&ref=obituaries
Ocean Doctor: http://oceandoctor.org/cuba-loses-its-mother-ocean/
Today’s political rhetoric frequently cites the Straits of Florida as
a body of water that separates Cuba and the U.S., but to a biologist’s
eye those same waters unite us, through the sweeping ocean currents and
the myriad of sea creatures that are blind to our international
borders. As my work in Cuba now enters its tenth year, I hope to
honor the memory of Dr. Ibarra by celebrating World
Oceans Day, dedicated to continuing to work across borders to protect
and sustain the beautiful waters that truly unite us all.
David E. Guggenheim, Ph.D.
President, 1planet1ocean – A project of The Ocean Foundation.
Senior Fellow, The Ocean Foundation
Web Site: http://www.1planet1ocean.org
Ocean Doctor’s Blog: http://oceandoctor.org
This is a special ExpeditionDispatch from 1planet1ocean