Cuba has lost its Mother Ocean. Dr. María Elena Ibarra Martín, director of the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, CIM) since 1981, passed away yesterday afternoon after a month-long struggle following heart surgery. CIM is the only academic institution in Cuba where marine biologists are trained, and her loss is mourned by hundreds of her students, many of whom grew up to become her colleagues — and friends. Her selfless, tireless dedication goes far beyond words, and the impact she has made on education, conservation, and her unique model of personal integrity will no doubt endure for centuries to come. When I last saw Doctora in February, she was as busy as ever, wrestling mountains of paperwork on her desk while never letting go of her visionary perspective about conservation and education. Nor did she ever let go of her special fondness for sea turtles and her love for and dedication to her students.
Fresh from the Eisenhower Administration era, your friendly neighborhood Ocean Doctor turned 50 today. In doing so, I outlived my father, William L. Guggenheim, who tragically died at 49 when he was lost at sea. It was my days as a boy, fishing with my dad off of Cape May, New Jersey, that I truly inherited his passion for the sea, and I feel lucky to have been able to spend much of my life near, in, or best of all, under the water.
To celebrate my 50th, I’d like you to send me on a journey this year, a journey to visit our next generation, in their schools, and share with them some of the awe and wonder of my experiences in the sea, including the important lessons that go along with them. So I’ll be donating one speech to one school in every state and U.S. territory (accredited schools, public or private, K through college level). I’m waving my speaking fee and travel expenses. I don’t require anything except an enthusiastic audience and maybe a glass of water. (I would encourage a class project to find creative ways to offset my travel’s carbon footprint to your school.) I’ll show my videos, share my adventures, and my enthusiasm for the wonder of the deep blue part of the planet.
I’ll honor the first request I receive from each state and U.S. territory (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa) and, of course, the District of Columbia. If you or someone you know would like to take me up on this offer, just fill out the Book a Speaker Form on the 1planet1ocean web site and indicate that you’re submitting the request for the “Free Speech” project.
I look forward to this adventure and wish all of you a happy 50th, whenever it arrives, or whenever it was.
|This next-generation land-based recirculating aquaculture facility in northern Denmark supplies 20 percent of the eel consumed by the European market. (Photo courtesy of Aquaculture Developments, LLC)|
After being nearly ignored for decades, marine conservation issues are increasingly at the forefront of the environmental agenda today, thanks in large part to the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and subsequent U.S. Ocean Action Plan as well as the results of the independent Pew Oceans Commission, and current actions of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. The similarity of the findings of these efforts has been striking, recognizing that urgent steps are required to restore marine ecosystems. Among the most serious problems cited is overfishing and the recognition that U.S. fisheries are increasingly unsustainable and many populations will take decades to recover.
Of course, this trend is not limited to the U.S. and global overfishing is viewed as one of the principal causes of the loss of integrity of marine ecosystems and is considered a major factor in the decline of coral reef communities. Read more
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