In memory of Dr. Pedro Alcolado, Cuba’s Reef Champion

A full-time researcher and scientific advisor at the Instituto de Oceanologia in Havana, Cuba, Dr. Pedro Alcolado was a leading contributor to Cuba’s coral reef research and conservation for over four decades. He was a highly respected global authority on coral reefs, known for his integrity and consistency.

Photo: Lang

Dr. Alcolado’s calm, reasonable and engaging personality allowed him to present important issues in an accessible, rational way. On many occasions he was able to successfully advocate for positive decisions affecting marine life, and to dissuade activities that would harm coral reef systems, in Cuba and overseas.

Pedro Alcolado, Port Royal, JamaicaHis influence on the coral reef expert community was facilitated by global technology and networks, such as the Coral List, and he was frequently able to attend key technical and policy events beyond Cuba’s shores. His advice was sought by many, worldwide, such as in Viet Nam following Coral bleaching events in the late 1990’s, and he contributed to many status reports on coral reef systems in the Caribbean and the Western Atlantic.

Dr. Alcolado helped write and co-author over 200 important scientific publications, dealing with all aspects of coral reef systems, their value to society, and seeking better ways to guarantee their persistence – especially in Cuba.

Dr. Alcolado passed away in Cuba, in June.

IUCN recognises Dr. Alcolado’s significant contribution to coral reef research and conservation, and on behalf of our secretariat, experts and global membership, we express our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.


Insights into Dr. Alcolado:

Since he was very young, he had …  a special mental "antenna" that allowed him to interpret a coral reef status and its environmental conditions, just by observing its species composition, size, tell-tale signs.”

“He trained many generations of marine scientists in Cuba and other countries. For those close to his age he was a permanent and enthusiastic source of information and a debating counterpart.”

“He fought many battles to prevent or reduce anthropogenic impacts in Cuban coastal environments. He taught engineers and decision makers how to do things right for the reefs.”

“We had many points in common about Varadero, Cuba and Varadero, Colombia (Climate Change Coral Reef Refuge, worthy to be protected from dredging)”

“He was probably one of the best coral reefs specialist in the world and an incredible nice and humble person with a great sense of humour”

“An account of his professional achievements, while remarkable, do not do justice to the warmth, humanity and sincerity that he was known and loved for”


A further personal note on Dr. Alcolado can be found on University of South Florida’s Professor John Ogden’s page.

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