Cuba Diving: A New Legal Educational Travel Program for U.S. Citizens and Residents to Cuba: Dr. David E. Guggenheim, the “Ocean Doctor,” speaks at Our World Underwater 2014 about Ocean Doctor’s legal travel program for U.S. citizens and residents to Cuba’s spectacular Gardens of the Queen National Park, the largest fully-protected marine protected area in the Caribbean, featured on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper.
At a rural Cuban elementary school nestled in the verdant mountains west of Havana, I approached the front of the class and queued up my best Spanish. The first-graders looked at me with puzzled anticipation — they don’t see many Americans entering their classroom, let alone U.S. visitors who try to get up and teach. But as soon as it was clear we were going to talk about the oceans, its was all smiles and excited participation, as if salt water is the universal language we all share and treasure.
I told the students that our lesson was about a single word: Orgulloso. It means “proud.” I told the students that they should “sentirse orgulloso” — feel proud, and then I showed them why. Carrying my laptop around the class, I showed recent videos I had taken in Cuba’s pristine ocean waters of healthy corals, sharks, goliath groupers, tarpon and, to especially loud shrieks of delight, sea turtles.
I’ve just returned from Cuba and before my wetsuit has finished drying, I am packing my bags again. Before I return to Cuba, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a short video I shot during my recent trip at Cuba’s spectacular Gardens of the Queen National Park (Jardines de la Reina), the country’s first marine park and the largest fully-protected marine reserve in the Caribbean. It may also be the healthiest marine ecosystem in the Caribbean, our closest glimpse at the pristine reefs and islands Columbus saw and named for Spain’s Queen Isabella 500 years ago.
I hope you enjoy the video, but it’s much better in person and I hope to be able to show you personally! Learn more and book your trip!
Legal Educational Travel to Cuba for U.S. Citizens & Residents
For 13 years I have felt deeply privileged to spend much of my time in Cuba, working on research and conservation projects with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, among the most spectacularly healthy reefs I have ever beheld. One region in particular, Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen, is so staggeringly pristine and healthy – in stark contrast to many of the other coral reef ecosystems around the world – that the region was recently featured on an award-winning segment of the CBS news program, 60 Minutes, hosted by Anderson Cooper.
In a world where many of the ocean’s corals and fish populations are in decline, the marine life of Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen – the largest no-take marine reserve in the Caribbean – is thriving. The massive and strikingly beautiful Gardens of the Queen National Park is located 60 miles off the southern coast of Cuba, an archipelago comprising a chain of 250 virgin coral and mangrove islands extending along 75 miles of turquoise waters.
Due to the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, it has been virtually impossible for Americans to legally visit Cuba and the Gardens of the Queen for more than 50 years.
Dr. Kirsten “Kiki” Sanford is joined by The Ocean Doctor, David E. Guggenheim on Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour for a checkup on the oceans’ health.
This show originally aired on the TWiT Netcast Network on December 23, 2011. Visit the show page at TWiT.tv.
(CBS News) 60 Minutes cameras take you on an underwater adventure off the Cuban coast to one of the world’s most pristine and vibrant coral reefs, known as the Gardens of the Queen. Anderson Cooper scuba dives with marine biologist David Guggenheim, dodging giant groupers and sharks, to explore this increasingly rare oasis. Scientists estimate that 25 percent of the world’s reefs have died off and much of what’s left is at risk.
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|Learn About Our Work in Cuba|
Because of the decades-old U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, scientific collaboration between U.S. and Cuban scientists has been exceedingly difficult. Even though research is a permitted activity and U.S. scientists are allowed to travel to Cuba, the harsh logistical and political realities have prevented all but a few U.S. institutions from successful collaborative projects in Cuba.
The Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program has been based at The Ocean Foundation (TOF) since 2008 and is built on more than 12 years of work in Cuba by TOF Senior Fellow, Dr. David E. Guggenheim, who directs the program, and TOF Research Associate, Fernando Bretos. The program is a regional effort to study and conserve the shared marine resources of the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean.
Synopsis: Marine scientist and conservationist Dr. David E. Guggenheim (the “Ocean Doctor”) tells the story of his decade-long effort to bring collaboration in science and conservation between Cuba and the U.S. to a new level. He tells the story against a backdrop of Cold War-era politics, maddening bureaucracy, and the daily challenges of Cuban life while introducing us to Cuba’s unimaginably beautiful underwater ecosystems and the Cuban scientists dedicated to protecting them. His story is timely, illustrating how marine biologists have succeeded where diplomats have failed in bringing the two countries closer together. Deep in Enemy Territory brings a personal, in-depth view of an enchanted yet troubled island that few Americans have seen for half a century.
A portion of profits will support The Ocean Foundation’s Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program.
The Ocean Foundation now hosts more than 50 ocean-related projects, including all of the work we do, including our Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program, The Ocean Doctor’s “50 Years – 50 States – 50 Speeches” Expedition, and The Ocean Doctor Radio Show. You can browse or download The Ocean Foundation’s Annual Report 2011 below.
The Ocean Foundation has continued its work to support, strengthen, and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. We work with donors who care about our coasts and oceans to add value to marine conservation initiatives by providing conservation grants, hosting projects and funds, and collaborating with important campaigns and opinion leaders. As the community foundation for the oceans, we are fostering best-in-class projects and promoting solutions for healthy oceans and the people who depend upon them. We have been able to adapt to a changing economic climate while maintaining our integrity as honest brokers for marine conservation philanthropy
Dr. David E. Guggenheim — the “Ocean Doctor” — serves as Senior Fellow of The Ocean Foundation and Director of its Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program.
As I write this, a massive offshore oil platform makes its way around the southern tip of the African continent on its journey from Singapore to its final destination within 50 miles of some of our nation’s most environmentally sensitive waters. By year’s end, it will be in operation to drill the first exploratory well more than a mile deep in Cuban waters.
Shortly after Cuba’s discovery of offshore oil more than six years ago, I met with my colleagues at the University of Havana who had just been briefed by the state-run oil company, Cupet (Cubapetroleo). Models predicted that 90 percent of oil from a blowout would be transported northward to the Keys and up along Florida’s East Coast, impacting Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and beyond. The question is, of course, are we ready to deal with such a catastrophe? [Read more...]