A Blueprint of Collaboration — and Friendship — with Cuba
Finalization of “Plan of Action” Charts a Way Forward
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.
Panel Discussion on funding perspectives. Left to right: Steve Cornelius (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation); Shari Sant Plummer (Code Blue Foundation; Summit Foundation; Deep Search Foundation); Tom McMurray (The Ocean Foundation); Mark Spalding (The Ocean Foundation)
The Plan of Action focuses on research and conservation priorities in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean, priorities considered nearly impossible without the concerted collaboration of all three nations. Because of the U.S. trade embargo imposed against Cuba, participation on the U.S. side has thus far been limited to nongovernmental organizations. The Havana meeting was the largest yet, bringing together a total of nearly 60 participants representing the three countries.
Two of the dozens of Caribbean reef sharks and Silky sharks that accompanied the expedition team during virtually all of their dives in Jardines de la Reina, November 2009 (Photo by Fabi?n Pina Amarg’s)
During an expedition into Cuba’s northwestern Gulf waters earlier this summer, 1planet1ocean president David Guggenheim came face-to-face with enormous corals and vibrant ecosystems he had not seen since he was a teenager. (Read the blog post, OMG, I Thought You Were Dead! ) Now he has returned from an expedition to Cuba’s renowned Jardines de la Reina, 60 miles off Cuba’s southern coast. Accompanying Shari Sant Plummer and Kip Evans representing Deep Search Foundation, they experienced what can best be described as a journey back through time to see what the oceans looked like when Columbus first plied these waters more than five centuries ago, and what the oceans should look like today. Surrounded by large numbers of large, friendly groupers and sharks on virtually all of their dives, the team even found plentiful numbers of the endangered Nassau Grouper along with healthy corals (including elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata) and other invertebrates, including the long-absent black spiny sea urchin (Diadema).
At 1,000 square miles, Jardines de la Reina is the largest marine protected area in the Caribbean. And its thriving, diversity of life is living proof that time travel is possible — in this case, that the establishment of large, permanent protected areas can help restore the ocean and the integrity of its ecosystems to their former glory.
PBS “Nature” TV Series: A special on Cuba’s magnificent ecosystems, featuring the collaborative project to study and protect Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters by The Ocean Foundation and the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research, airing in 2010.
NPR: A special report covering the tri-national meeting in Havana (see lead article) and a special expedition to Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina by The Ocean Foundation and Deep Search Foundation, airing in November/December 2009.
State of the Oceans Forum II:
Facing the Crisis: Reasons for Hope
Join Sylvia Earle, Jim Fowler and others at The Explorers Club
Join TED prize recipient and leading oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle at the Explorers Club for a discussion on how we can and must save the world’s most crucial natural resource ? the living ocean ? while there is still time.
In early 2009, a panel of top scientists led by marine toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw and Dr. Earle came together to convey a powerful message about the enormity of the crisis facing the world’s oceans at the first State of the Oceans Forum. Now, these Explorers return for a follow-up forum about the innovative solutions, leadership and resources required to make a difference for future generations. Join them at the Second State of the Oceans Forum: Facing the Crisis: Reasons for Hopeon Monday, December 7, 2009, 7:00-9:00pm at the Explorers Club? s World Center for Exploration in New York City.
Member Ticket Price: No Charge
Guest Ticket Price: $20
Student Ticket Price: $5 with valid student ID
Dr. Sylvia Earle, (Honorary Director of The Explorers Club; Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society)
Dr. Susan Shaw, Marine Environmental Research Institute)
Dr. Nancy Knowlton (Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History)
Dr. David Gallo (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Dr. David Guggenheim, (1planet1ocean; The Ocean Foundation)
Dr. Jim Fowler (Honorary Director of The Explorers Club)
An Elkhart, Indiana science teacher lets local students get an up close look at a snake at the “Science Spooktacular,” the most recent stop on the Ocean Doctor’s “50 Years – 50 States – 50 Speeches” Expedition.
The expedition stopped in Elkhart, Indiana as part of an enormous community science/Halloween event known as “Science Spooktacular,” where more than 3,000 students from the area come out to learn about the wonders of science, planet earth, and this year, the oceans. Thanks to the wonderful leadership of Elkhart-based ETHOS (Encouraging Technology and Hands-On Science), the event was a great success and an inspiration to communities across the nation on how to engage schools, students, families and the broader community for an event that’s truly educational and fun.
This year’s event was especially inspirational as Elkhart, Indiana has been one of the hardest hit by the economic crisis, at times topping the national unemployment figures with a rate as high as 16 percent. Pulling off a successful event under such conditions was a monumental feat.
This was an especially memorable visit on the 50-State Expedition. Help the Ocean Doctor reach the remaining 37 states in the coming months by making a tax-deductible donation to The Ocean Foundation:
Remember to specify/select the “Ocean Doctor’s
50 Years – 50 States – 50 Speeches Expedition Fund”
Holiday Shopping That Helps the Oceans!
Think of it as the “Other” Guggenheim Museum
Hang some ocean on your wall. Or perhaps a sea turtle. Or an Alaskan landscape. Or a wild Cuban beach. Or zebras in South Africa.
They’re photos taken by David Guggenheim while in the field and on the road, and by popular demand, available for framing as the perfect conservation-minded holiday gift. A portion of all proceeds will go directly to The Ocean Foundation to support its 1planet1ocean project.
Best of all, you can tell your gift recipient that they’re getting a gift from the “Guggenheim Collection.” The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum collection it’s not, but hey, they’re nice photos.
Photographs from Guggenheim’s “Cuba” Gallery. (No, not that Guggenheim.) A portion of sales from this and his other galleries directly benefit 1planet1ocean’s conservation work.
A Word from the Ocean Doctor…
The Hope Below
I’ll be honest. It’s been a trying year. Very trying. Like so many of you, the bitter turn of the economy has been merciless to my work and family. It can be especially hard to stay calm and focused when such havoc continues to crash down around us.
I’ve lamented with colleagues about the unprecedented challenges we’re facing and how we’re all trying to adjust to a new economic reality without surrender. The bad economic news comes on top of troubling environmental news — especially about the impacts of climate change — a double punch that has knocked the wind out of more than one of us.
Those of us involved in conservation work feel that it is critical to offer the public reasons for hope. But in our private moments of weakness, as we read yet another story of the demise of this species or that, some of us wonder if we’re looking harder and harder to find those reasons. And then, when we least expect it, something positively wonderful happens. And the hope we had so struggled to find blossoms once again.
The article above entitled, Living Proof: Time Travel is Possible, describes places in Cuba’s waters where the vibrant, colorful ecosystems of the Gulf and Caribbean that I remember from 35 years ago still exist today. Impossibly, they look better than I remember them!. Amid countless sharks, groupers and healthy corals in Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina earlier this month, I found profound hope in the fact that places like this still exist. And I found more hope knowing that this was an example of what is possible when human beings find the courage to do no less than what it takes to take care of our oceans. Jardines is part of the largest marine protected area in the Caribbean — 1,000 square miles — and you need to do little more than dunk your head in the water and open your eyes to see it’s actually working.
During our expedition, I learned from Shari Sant Plummer, a board member of Deep Search Foundation (founded by Dr. Sylvia Earle), that the Foundation is identifying such spots — Hope Spots — like Jardines de la Reina — to help us focus on the possible and learn from the positive. It’s a great approach, tremendously educational, and offers a timely message of hope. Very timely.
David E. Guggenheim, Ph.D., the “Ocean Doctor”
President, 1planet1ocean; Senior Fellow, The Ocean Foundation
P.S. For my personal commentary from at sea or behind my desk, I invite you to read OceanDoctor’s Blog
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? Copyright 2009 1planet1ocean. All Rights Reserved.
1planet1ocean, a project of The Ocean Foundation, is a nonprofit organization founded
to explore, restore and sustain the oceans through strong international
partnerships, offering solutions to the problems our oceans face.
Areas of Focus:
Expeditionary research to identify and map important marine ecosystems, especially coral
ecosystems, in order to inform strong conservation policies.
Sustainable aquaculture and the promotion of next-generation land-based recirculating
aquaculture systems in order to reduce pressure on wild fish stocks and
provide a sustainable alternative that supports local communities.
Bringing the public into the oceans through outreach, education, videography, photography and leading-edge Web and social media technologies.?Working to improve the quality, breadth and impact of environmental education.