[Coral-List] The Passing of Pedro M. Alcolado

John Ogden jogden at usf.edu
Mon Jun 19 12:06:14 EDT 2017

As many in our community I was saddened to learn of the passing of my 
friend and colleague of over 30 years, Prof. Pedro M. Alcolado. I want 
to share a few memories of him, begging your indulgence at the possible 
frailty of this faculty of my mind.Pedro was an excellent and engaging 
reef scientist, known in his early career for work on coral reef sponges 
and for broad international research collaborations on coral reefs.He 
was also a teacher, beloved to his students and alert to his colleague’s 
work, and notable for his frequent brief but cogent commentary on 

Pedro was irrevocably drawn into the broader concerns of the fate of 
coral reefs under the impact of relentlessly the growing human 
populations.When a small international steering committee started the 
Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Network of marine laboratories 
(CARICOMP) in 1982, we included Cuba among the roster of nations with 
excellent scientific traditions to help design a region-wide monitoring 
program for coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves.Pedro was the 
scientist whom everyone suggested would ideally represent Cuba in the 
program.Of course, the problem was that Cuba and the U.S. strictly 
limited travel and scientific and economic exchange. On one occasion, 
Pedro found a particularly creative conduit around the rules.Somehow, he 
arranged to use the “diplomatic pouch” of the Jamaican Ambassador to 
Cuba for the grant funds and the standardized equipment and instruments, 
which were sent to every participating laboratory.

Pedro’s travel to annual CARICOMP meetings at marine laboratories, was a 
continuing problem, but without announcement, he would simply show up at 
many of them, remaining coy about how he got around the many rules. He 
did the same with the International Coral Reef Symposia where he was a 
welcome colleague.I visited Cuba only once and saw Pedro as a respected 
leader and teacher who, with energy and good humor, strived to make 
international exchanges productive and warmly memorable.Over the years 
of the U.S.-Cuban Embargo, his CARICOMP colleagues noted that Pedro’s 
body weight changed with the ups and downs of Cuba’s economy.He once 
explained that at low points, it was more important to him and his wife 
to feed their children.

Pedro was an honored and respected member of the “Old Guard” of 
Caribbean reef scientists whose ranks are thinning.As his family and 
many friends and colleagues mourn his passing, I hope that these 
memories will prompt others and will help us to celebrate Pedro’s life 
with the joy that he lived it.Hail and farewell, Old Friend!


John C. Ogden
USF Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology
190 18th Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33704 USA
Cell: 727-641-4673
Email: jogden at usf.edu

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