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


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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.

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

The Calypso and Jacques Cousteau in Havana Bay

The Calypso and Jacques Cousteau in Havana Bay

Since 2000, Americans Fernando M. Bretos and David E. Guggenheim have been working closely with their colleagues at the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas – CIM), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Following the death of the Center’s long-time leader, Dr. Mar?a Elena Ibarra (see “Cuba Loses Its Mother Ocean“) and the retirement of others, it is now time for the next-generation of Cuban marine scientists to take the helm. Many of the individuals that were students when Fernando and David met them nearly a decade ago are now CIM’s leaders, a generation influenced strongly by Jacques Cousteau and developing their career with strong collaboration — and friendship — with American colleagues.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Fidel Castro shared a love of the sea

The decade-long collaboration of Bretos and Guggenheim with CIM, now under the banner of The Ocean Foundation, includes Proyecto Costa Noroccidental, Project of the Northwestern Coast, the first ever comprehensive study of Cuba’s Northwestern coastal waters — its Gulf of Mexico coast — the least studied corner of the Gulf. (See various articles at 1planet1ocean.org.)

Fidel Castro enjoyed SCUBA diving and a friendship with Jacques Cousteau

Fidel Castro enjoyed SCUBA diving and a friendship with Jacques Cousteau

The project was featured in the 2010-2011 premiere episode of the PBS Series, “Nature” entitled, “Cuba: The Accidental Eden” and can be viewed online. (See also the related post, “OMG, I Thought You Were Dead!” for a behind-the-scenes look at the filming.) In addition, The Ocean Foundation and CIM continue a long-standing collaboration on a unique sea turtle research and conservation project in Guanahacabibes.

Collaboration between the U.S. and Cuba has continued to grow, and in 2007, the Trinational Initiative for Marine Research & Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean was formed to elevate collaboration among Cuba, Mexico and the U.S.

CIM Director, Dr. Jorge A. Angulo Vald's

CIM Director, Dr. Jorge A. Angulo Vald's

This week, 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.

Dr. Julia Azanza Ricardo, Director of the Guanahacabibes Sea Turtle Project at CIM

Dr. Julia Azanza Ricardo, Director of the Guanahacabibes Sea Turtle Project at CIM

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 who became friends during Cousteau’s visit to Havana in 1985.

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Help Support The Ocean Foundation’s Collaboration with Cuban Marine Scientists

Your tax-deductible contribution to The Ocean Foundation’s “Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Fund” will help us continue to work with our Cuban colleagues to conduct research and protect its marine ecosystems while providing the Masters’ and Doctoral thesis research for dozens of students at The University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research.
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