Deep Cuba: The Inside Story of an American Oceanographic Expedition

Overview


Geography, politics, and other factors have allowed Cuba to preserve the region's most pristine coast and offshore marine environment. Deep Cuba recounts Bill Belleville's month-long journey around the island in the company of American and Cuban marine biologists and a Discovery Channel film crew. It was the first, and so far only, United States submersible research expedition in Cuban waters. From coral reefs to mangrove swamps to a submerged volcanic mountain, the voyagers encountered sublimely wild places ...
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Overview


Geography, politics, and other factors have allowed Cuba to preserve the region's most pristine coast and offshore marine environment. Deep Cuba recounts Bill Belleville's month-long journey around the island in the company of American and Cuban marine biologists and a Discovery Channel film crew. It was the first, and so far only, United States submersible research expedition in Cuban waters. From coral reefs to mangrove swamps to a submerged volcanic mountain, the voyagers encountered sublimely wild places unseen before by anyone from the United States--or even by many Cubans.

Belleville conveys the tempo of the scientists' workday, during which the routine gathering of data and specimens could be punctuated by trips in a state-of-the-art submersible, the discovery of new species, or a tropical storm. Throughout the trip, as well, all on board had to work through differences that arose from the expedition's contrary goals: to produce a commercially viable seagoing adventure film and to conduct controlled, methodical scientific investigations.

Belleville paces his coverage of the expedition with absorbing stories about the history and culture of the island's peoples, from the indigenous Taino to its current inhabitants of African and European heritage. Deep Cuba even includes a candid portrait of Castro himself. An avid diver, sport fisherman, and naturalist, El Comandante paid a visit aboard the research vessel.

Deep Cuba is an engaging mix of nature and travel writing, along with scientific reportage that is keenly attuned to current crises in research funding. Revealed here is a magnificent marine world with crucial ecological links to the Caribbean Basin and the southeastern United States.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Engaging . . . Environmental journalist and diver Belleville works hard to achieve a documentary-maker's dream: exciting a broad public empathy for a place and its creatures."--Kirkus Reviews

"Rank[s] with the best travel writing . . . Deep Cuba will appeal to a wide range of readers: armchair travelers, recreational divers, naturalists and anyone curious about Castro and the Caribbean’s largest island."--Orlando Sentinel

"[A] fascinating and easily absorbed account . . . Belleville is an articulate and skilled advocate and we should all pay attention to what he has seen.”--Rosalind Brackenbury, Solares Hill

"[A] riveting account of a six-week expedition aboard the Harbor Branch vessel, Seward Johnson.”--Vero Beach Journal

"A fascinating dive into two worlds: the undersea kaleidoscope where mysterious creatures make their home, and the politics and culture of a scientific expedition. Belleville is an astute observer and a great companion. If you can't personally explore the waters of Cuba or meet Fidel, you should sail along with the crew of the R/V Seward Johnson."--Jan DeBlieu, author of Hatteras Journal

"Deep Cuba provides a side of Cuba that's missing from most of the contemporary books and articles on the island."--The Lakeland Ledger

"Deep Cuba makes an eloquent argument for deep sea diving, scientific inquiry, and ending the embargo. I learned something new on every page."--Tom Miller, author of Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels through Castro's Cuba

Kirkus Reviews
Engaging . . . Environmental journalist and diver Belleville works hard to achieve a documentary-maker's dream: exciting a broad public empathy for a place and its creatures.
Orlando Sentinel
[T]his is the good stuff: an expansive and wide-ranging journal by a keen-eyed, informed observer of nature, politics and people.
The Ledger
Deep Cuba provides a side of Cuba that's missing from most of the contemporary books and articles on the island.
Library Journal
In the winter of 1997-98, the Discovery Channel chartered a Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution ship for a cruise in Cuban waters-ostensibly to do science but primarily to produce a television documentary. The author was employed to provide material for a companion web site and to answer e-mail queries during the cruise. This book is a day-by-day memoir of his experiences. While his writing is interesting, Belleville doesn't seem to have had a specific purpose in mind, which makes for frustrating, unfulfilling reading. He describes the animals found but does not offer enough detail to make the book useful for budding scientists; nor is his technical cruise information sufficiently detailed for this purpose. There are tidbits of interest to potential diving tourists, but again, not enough to make the book really useful. Belleville's descriptions of the politics involved in arranging to go to a "forbidden" country and of his meeting with Fidel Castro, as well as the pitfalls of media-driven science, are fascinating for a reviewer who works in a scientific institution but lack depth. The absence of any illustrations is also disappointing. Recommended for academic and public libraries only where there is high interest in Cuba, scuba diving, or the politics of science.-Margaret Rioux, MBL/WHOL Lib., Woods Hole, MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820324173
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2002
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author


Bill Belleville, an award-winning environmental journalist and filmmaker, is also a veteran diver. His books include River of Lakes and Deep Cuba (both Georgia). His articles, which have appeared in such publications as Sierra Magazine, Oxford American, Islands, and Salon, have been anthologized in six other collections. Belleville lives in Sanford, Florida.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Fort Pierce, Florida 13
2 The Windward Passage and Santiago de Cuba 31
3 Bahia de Baitiquiri and El Uvero 47
4 Chivirico and Cabo Cruz 65
5 Laberinto de las Doce Leguas and Tortuga Hotel 83
6 Cayos de las Doce Leguas and Banco Jagua 100
7 Archipielago de los Canarreos 122
8 Cayos Aguardientes and Sambo Head 147
9 Isla de la Juventud, Ensenada de la Siguanea, and Punta Frances 170
10 Cabo Frances and Maria la Gorda 194
11 La Habana and Anticipation 214
12 Fidel, Retrospective, and Back across the Florida Straits 232
Epilogue 248
Bibliography 253
Index 263
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