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
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 ancient glamour of Havana quietly peers out from between buildings crumbled and forgotten during the Soviet era.
The sun shines down on brightly colored townhouses illuminating the small tables where old men in rocking chairs play dominoes.
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.
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.
As a submarine pilot and National Geographic Explorer Erika Bergman is a passionate storyteller. She studied chemical oceanography at the University of Washington while working as a diesel engineer aboard the tall ship S/V Lady Washington and a steam ship engineer aboard the S/S Virginia V. Since then she has worked as a submersible pilot for exploration, research and filmmaking. Erika is an editor of OpenExplorer.com, a site dedicated to supporting and curating a new era of connected, citizen exploration. She is also the Founder of GEECs - Global Engineering & Exploration Counselors; providing a network of thrilling engineering camps to girls around the world. Photo - Heather Perry.
The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global nonprofit organization that pushes the boundaries of exploration, furthering understanding of our world and empowering us all to generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come. Our ultimate vision: a planet in balance.
If you are a member of the media with an inquiry or interview request, please call during regular business hours or email