National Geographic
Menu

The View From Cuba: Photo Updates

Young Explorer grantee Erika Bergman works with non-profit organization Ocean Doctor to educate the public about oceans and the sciences. Follow her work and post your comments right here on Explorers Journal, or read about her next research project, where she will document marine life while snorkeling in the freezing waters of the Arctic.

Young Explorer grantee Erika Bergman is currently working in Cuba to teach Americans and Cubans about the oceans we all share. Photo by Erika Bergman
Young Explorer grantee Erika Bergman is currently working in Cuba to teach Americans and Cubans about the oceans we all share. Photo by Erika Bergman
I’ve been traveling to Cuba on a regular basis, leading cross-cultural ocean education programs through Ocean Doctor. We take groups of Americans to Cuba on “People to People” visas to work with our Cuban Colleagues from the University of Havana Center for Marine Investigations. From the sustainable hill town of Las Terrazas to the undersea world of the Garden’s of the Queen, we set out to learn about the real Cuba and share the real America. We need not be defined by our countries but by ourselves as individuals.

 

The sun sets over Havana, Cuba. Photo by Erika Bergman
The sun sets over Havana, Cuba. Photo by Erika Bergman
The ancient glamour of Havana quietly peers out from between buildings crumbled and forgotten during the Soviet era.

 

Prado Boulevard, Cuba. Photo by Erika Bergman
Prado Boulevard, Cuba. Photo by Erika Bergman
The sun shines down on brightly colored townhouses illuminating the small tables where old men in rocking chairs play dominoes.

 

An old car and an older building soak up the Cuban sun. Photo by Erika Bergman
An old car and an older building soak up the Cuban sun. Photo by Erika Bergman
The beloved cars of the American past trundle past us, puffing grey exhaust as they pass ancient stone castles. The juxtaposition of time periods will capture your imagination. The charm of Havana is irresistible.

 

This brain coral is a member of the class Anthozoa, which means "flower animals." Photo by Erika Bergman
This brain coral is a member of the class Anthozoa, which means “flower animals.” Photo by Erika Bergman
Diving in the Gardens of the Queen is like a look back in time at coral reefs before overfishing and ocean acidification. It’s also a glimmer of what the future of our oceans could return to with care.

 

Pederson's Shrimp is a type of cleaner shrimp. Passing fish will stop to let it remove and eat parasites from their sides, gills, and mouths. Photo by Erika Bergman
Pederson’s Shrimp is a type of cleaner shrimp. Passing fish will stop to let it remove and eat parasites from their sides, gills, and mouths. Photo by Erika Bergman

Click here to read all posts by Erika Bergman

This summer, Erika will travel to the arctic to document marine wildlife and work with Inuit and Inuvialuit communities. Click here to learn more, or to support her research in the arctic.