In July, WILDCOAST partnered with the Embassy of Mexico in Cuba and Patrimonio Comunidad y Medio Ambiente to inaugurate a photo exhibit at the Sala de Diversidad in Havana. The exhibit, which will run through September, highlights the conservation success stories of WILDCOAST in Mexico featuring stunning images by Claudio Contreras, Dr. Octavio Aburto of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Miguel Angel de la Cueva and Ralph Lee Hopkins. Photos featured globally significant sites that WILDCOAST works to conserve including Morro Ayuta in Oaxaca, and Cabo Pulmo, Bahia Magdalena and Valle de los Cirios on the Baja California Peninsula. On hand to open the exhibit were WILDCOAST’s Executive Director Serge Dedina, Mexico Director Eduardo Najera, and Communications and Policy Director Fay Crevoshay.
“We are grateful to the Embassy of Mexico in Cuba for sponsoring this exhibit and their role in fostering international cooperation to help preserve the coastal and marine ecosystems in Mexico and to partner with the Cuban National Park Service to assist in the preservation of world-class coral reefs and mangrove lagoons,” said Dedina. “This was an incredible opportunity to highlight our work and we were so pleased that Ana Lourdes Soto Perez, President of Patrimonio Comunidad y Medio Ambiente agreed to host the exhibit in the Sala de Diversidad in Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
The WILDCOAST exhibit is being showcased to Cubans and the growing numbers of tourists who now visit Old Havana. “We were very happy to work with the Mexican government to highlight the conservation success stories in Mexico and to help increase awareness in Cuba about the importance of continuing to preserve globally important coral reefs. Sites like Jardines de la Reina in Cuba, like Cabo Pulmo in Mexico, are considered among the world’s most successful marine reserves. It is important to continue to collaborate internationally to preserve them,” said Crevoshay
As part of the trip to Cuba, WILDCOAST staff presented papers at the International Congress on Conservation and Sustainable Development in Havana. Then they visited Guanahacabibes National Park in the southwest corner of the island, which includes the pristine Maria la Gorda coral reef. “It was amazing to dive the reef and see how pristine it is,” said Najera. During their visit, WILDCOAST staff met with high level Cuban National Park Service officials as well as a visiting delegation of officials from the NOAA and the U.S. National Park Service.
Thanks to a generous donor, WILDCOAST is launching a Cuba Conservation Initiative to support efforts to preserve globally important coastal and marine ecosystems in Cuba. “Our first effort will be to bring Cuban park staff from Guanahacabibes to Cabo Pulmo to learn more about tourism management practices. With the opening of tourism from the U.S., there is concern that national parks and coral reefs especially could be threatened,” said Najera.