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Since 1970, the Caribbean has lost half its coral reefs, an ominous and accelerating phenomenon reflected around the world. Beyond the heartbreak of the loss of such exquisite beauty, losing coral reefs means the annual loss of billions of dollars from the global economy and the end of a way of life for the billions who depend on these ecosystems.
Marine scientist and conservation leader Dr. David E. Guggenheim has had a front-row seat to this disaster. But when he began a new chapter of his career in Cuba, he found something completely unexpected: hope. After years of watching reefs deteriorate, Guggenheim was astonished to come face-to-face with Cuba’s remarkably healthy coral reefs overflowing with marine life. The Remarkable Reefs of Cuba reveals the hidden lessons of Cuba’s reefs that could help rescue coral reefs around the world.
While the past 60 years have seen the worst decline in ocean health in human history, Cuba’s oceans and coral reefs remain remarkably healthy, a living laboratory little seen by this generation of scientists. Which begs the question—Why are Cuba’s ocean waters so healthy? The answer is deeply entwined with the country’s extraordinary and singularly unique history, from its dramatic political past to its world-class environmental protections influenced by an unlikely partner, Jacques Cousteau.
The Remarkable Reefs of Cuba tells the story of the demise of the world’s ocean ecosystems, the hard work of those trying desperately to save it, and an unexpected beacon of hope from an island full of mystery and surprise.
Dr. David E. Guggenheim is a marine scientist, conservation policy specialist, ocean explorer, submersible pilot, author and educator. He is founder and president of the Washington, DC-based nonprofit, Ocean Doctor, dedicated to ocean conservation. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University. Guggenheim has worked in Cuba for more than 20 years leading collaborative research and conservation efforts focused on coral reef ecosystems, documented in his recently-released book, The Remarkable Reefs of Cuba: Hopeful Stories from the Ocean Doctor. Guggenheim piloted the first manned submersible dive into the world’s largest underwater canyons located in Alaska’s Bering Sea. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, CNN, MSNBC, PBS Newshour, and NPR. Guggenheim previously served as Vice President at Ocean Conservancy, President & CEO of The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and Co-Chair of the Everglades Coalition. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University, a Master’s in Aquatic and Population Biology from University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master’s in Regional Science and Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.