Natives of Cojimar, Cuba, called him “Papa,” but John and Patrick Hemingway call him their grandfather. When Ernest Hemingway arrived in Cuba 80 years ago, the country, its marine life and its people drew him in – especially those in Cojimar, the inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea.
His grandsons traveled to Cuba this past September to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his Nobel Prize for literature and his active passion for marine conservation, but this was not just a tribute trip. Populations of tuna, marlin, and other billfish in the Florida Straits and Gulf Stream are overfished, while pollution stresses their environment.
“The main task we see is to begin to improve communication between U.S. and Cuba marine researchers so more information is shared on the health and prospects of [these fish] in the Florida Straits and surrounding regions,” said Jeffrey Boutwell of Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the trip’s orchestrator.
The brothers were gladly roped in to help put Cuban researchers, government officials and academic members together with American counterparts to aid with billfish-population recovery.