Guanahacabibes National Park
HOPE SPOT: Guanahacabibes National Marine Park
Your full time schedule to the newest Mission Blue Foundation Hope Spot, begins on the westernmost tip of Cuba in the Peninsula de Guanahacabibes, one of Cuba’s largest protected areas and declared an UNESCO World Biosphere in 1987. This national marine park is at the center of scientific, bilateral agreements. This biosphere reserve of 121,572 hectares of wildlife forestry including 154 square miles of national park and is a story of hope and recovery. Our company is involved in Humanitarian-Environmental projects here in teamwork with the Marine Biologist team headed by Dr. Dorka. It is home to a variety of habitats including coral reefs, mangroves, scrublands, and evergreen forest with more than 170 species of birds and dozens of reptile and mammal species. The coast has the second largest breeding population of green turtles in the country with an average of more than 300 nests per season.
A two-hour drive from Pinar del Río, the Guanahacabibes National Park lacks major infrastructure, with Villa Maria la Gorda being the only remote hotel in the national park near to the Marine Biologist team and local villages that our program supports.
Our participants experience the inter-dependence of marine ecosystems shared by Cuba and the United States. Through humanitarian environmental exchanges that cultivate meaningful dialogue about ecological conservation efforts and cultural, socio-economic ties, we can all gain better empathy & understanding in caring for our environment.
Bilateral Marine Science Agreement – Cuba & US
NOAA, the U.S. National Park Service and Cuba’s National Center for Protected Areas agreed to share research to help the countries work together on some of the Caribbean’s most ecologically significant resources. The countries focus on five sensitive international environmental areas–Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Park, including its offshore coral reefs at Banco de San Antonio; NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries; and the Park Service’s Dry Tortugas and Biscayne national parks. The agreement helps both countries improve decisions about the management of the larger marine ecosystem. The Tampa Bay Aquarium and Cuba’s National Aquarium in Havana have also collaborated in the Guanahacabibes Peninsula to plant a new coral nursery.
Why is it Important?
More than half the Caribbean’s coral reefs, home to more than 4,000 species of fish and countless species of plants, have died since 1970, according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. Yet, Cuba’s conservation efforts in Guanahacabibes National Marine Park have allowed the coral system to remain healthy and vibrant in contrast to the critical condition of the rest of the Caribbean. Marine Biologists say protecting Cuba’s marine resources is critical to ensuring the health of the United State’s reefs and fisheries — all the way up to Massachusetts and as far west as Texas.
Our Work in Partnership with Local Marine Biologists
Our Humanitarian Environmental projects support local marine biology programs which have worked together to earn prestigious recognition globally. Cuba Scuba and the Guanahacabibes National Park have partnered to offer unique experiences to our groups who participate under the leadership of Dr. Dorka the head marine biologist:
1.) Environmental Coral Study & Restoration
Through presentations and aquatic immersions led by head Cuban Marine Biologist, Dr. Dorka Cobián Rojas, and her biolgy team, Participants learn about the life history and ecology of coral species, and the threats to coral health in the Caribbean and globally.