This week, The Ocean Foundation attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the University of Havana’s Centro de Investigaciones Marinas (CIM, Marine Research Center), where TOF was recognized for its 21 years of collaboration with CIM on marine science in Cuba. TOF’s work with CIM began in 1999 when TOF’s Fernando Bretos met the CIM Director at the time, Dr. Maria Elena Ibarra. Dr. Ibarra’s passion for marine conservation and in partnering with international groups was the driving force behind TOF’s first collaborations with CIM.

The first TOF-CIM collaborative project involved analyses of CIM’s taxonomic collection in 1999. Since then, TOF-CIM collaborations have grown to include sea turtle conservation in Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Park, research cruises along nearly the entirety of the Cuban coastline, international fisheries learning exchanges, expeditions to monitor coral spawning, and most recently a project to study and protect sawfish in Cuba. These collaborations have led to important conservation outcomes and form the basis for over 30 doctoral and master’s dissertations for CIM students. CIM has also been long-time partners in TOF’s Trinational Initiative for Marine Science and Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico & Western Caribbean.

Katie Thompson (left) and CIM Director, Patricia González

TOF’s Alejandra Navarrete and Katie Thompson attended this week’s celebration. Mrs. Navarrete received an award from CIM for TOF’s decades of collaboration with and support of CIM. Ms. Thompson gave the presentation “The Ocean Foundation and CIM: 21 years of science, discovery, and friendship” on the panel “International Scientific Relations and Capacity Building” moderated by CIM Director Patricia González. TOF is excited to continue collaborating with CIM for many more years on marine science and conservation in Cuba and the Wider Caribbean Region.

Alejandra Navarrete (left) and Katie Thompson (right) with the award.