Ocean Doctor – Cuba, Conservation & Collaboration

Coral reefs are remarkably healthy and abundant in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen, like this Elkhorn coral which is now 95% extinct elsewhere in the Caribbean. (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

Why Cuba?  Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen is one of the most abundant coral reef systems in the world. Partner and fiscal project of The Baum Foundation, Ocean Doctor engages its Cuba Conservancy Program by focusing on collaboration between Cuban and American scientists and policymakers to advance marine protection.  Ocean Doctor shares the wealth of knowledge it has gathered from scientific research of Cuba’s magnificent marine ecosystems and their marine conservation practices with coastal communities and international audiences.

Ocean Doctor founder, marine scientist and conservation policy expert Dr. David E. Guggenheim has led research and conservation in Cuba, Gardens of the Queen and the Gulf of Mexico focusing on sustainability for the Cuba Conservancy program.   All of Ocean Doctor’s work in Cuba is founded on the principles of collaboration, friendship, and joint activities that have helped to train Cuba’s next generation of marine scientists.  Ocean Doctor works on both scientific and cultural levels to explore, restore, and sustain the ocean’s health through international partnerships and public education.

Through its Cuba Conservancy program, Ocean Doctor works on a people-to-people approach to address the socioeconomic dimension of environmental issues in Cuba, engaging Cuban scientists and marine managers on an ongoing basis to expand sustainable development strategies and foster dialogue between the U.S. and Cuban leadership.

Placing an economic value on Cuba’s natural ecosystems – like this coral reef ecosystem at Gardens of the Queen – is mandated by Cuban environmental law and critical to informing sound conservation policy and a key part of the collaborative work Ocean Doctor does in Cuba. (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

For over five decades, Cuba has been learning to live without access to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The country adopted organic agriculture nationwide, teaching people to grow their own food and finding creative solutions for transportation.  The trickle down affect of not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides is that Cuba’s marine environments are healthier than surrounding areas in the Caribbean and Cuba has seen an overall increase in diversity of marine species. With trade and travel restrictions between Cuba and the U.S. being eased, Ocean Doctor is working urgently to establish international partnerships and sound policies to protect the ecological health of our shared ocean.

In collaboration with The Baum Foundation and Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation, Ocean Doctor has developed a one of a kind journey, for the first time focused on sustainability.  The project named How Cuba Went Green is focused on educating, exploring and sharing information about Cuba’s ecological sustainability practices.  The first trip, scheduled from May 28 – June 6, 2015, organized by Cross Cultural Journeys will be led by Dr. David E. Guggenheim of Ocean Doctor and draw from his in depth knowledge about Cuba, sustainability and what Cuba has done to maintain healthy marine protected areas.


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