With the episode, “Cuba: The Accidental Eden,” the 2010-11 season premiere of the acclaimed PBS series, “Nature” features The Ocean Foundation’s own Fernando M. Bretos and David E. Guggenheim, along with other Cuban and American colleagues. Bretos and Guggenheim have worked together in Cuba for more than a decade and head up The Ocean Foundation’s “Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program. ” Their work includes joint research expeditions in Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters and a major sea turtle conservation project with the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas). The episode can be viewed in its entirety online (see below) and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray disc.
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.