It is with great sadness in our hearts that we inform you of the passing of the legendary Dr. Barbara Bernache-Baker, “Barbarita de Vieques”. Barbarita was a member and volunteer of the VCHT since it’s inception and a pillar of the Trust’s mission for conservation.
A pioneer in the research of the bioluminescent bays of Vieques, Dr. Bernache-Baker cultivated a scientific culture in a quest to understand, teach and protect her favorite place on earth, Puerto Mosquito. Her legacy is monumental as she is responsible for bringing the scientific community to Vieques through her presentations at several international forums and her connections with Dr. Michael Latz from UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Dr. Edith Widder from ORCA, David Gruber from NatGeo explorer and many other Puerto Rican and international researchers who came to Vieques to fulfill Barbarita’s request for science.
Author of publications on the bioluminescent bays of Vieques and the mangrove forests of Vieques, she shared her publications and insight with local schools and the Vieques community of which she was an integral part of for over 30 years. A longtime board member of the VCHT Board of Directors and the Science Committee, Barbarita helped build the VCHT and fought to defend it and make it successful throughout her dedicated tenure as a volunteer to its cause. She worked tirelessly until her gentle passing at her beloved home in Pozo Prieto overlooking the “Biobay”.
Dr. Bernache-Baker, through her connections and sheer tenacity, brought the dream of Marine Life Exhibit to the Trust and helped bring it to life. She was honored with the Barbara Bernache Baker Biobay Room for her work on research, education and advocacy on bioluminescent bays.
Barbara also left a wonderful legacy in her life in Virginia and the US as a professor, author, esteemed wife, mother and great friend to many. She is responsible for bringing current president Colleen McNamara to the Trust and together Barbarita and Colleen brought me to the VCHT.
On a personal note, it is with tears in my eyes that I regret her passing but a smile on my face when I remember the lessons and time we spent researching the bays, collecting Algae and talking science as we shared some mischievous humor. She was one of my mentors and a field researcher colleague into her glowing years, participating in nighttime sampling until 2018 and lab analysis until 2019. I am proud to call myself one of her students and will forever cherish my time with Barbarita. From now on, I will see you in the bay of liquid stars my friend. She has always been a part of you and now you will be a part of her magic forever.
With a heavy heart
Mark Martin Bras and the VCHT family.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the Trust to ensure the work that she devoted much of her life to continues.
The service will be held at her house in Pozo Prieto on Sunday the 19th of January 2020 from 2:00PM to 4:00PM, with the service commencing at 2:30PM.
Carpooling is a must if you are driving. There will be shuttle service for the friend of the VCHT at 1:00PM and back.
For more information, contact Abby: 360-774-6511
For over thirty years The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust has been the island's largest non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Vieques. Our mission is to foster, study, educate, protect and conserve la Isla Nena's natural and cultural resources, with a special emphasis on the Bioluminescent Bay, conducting non-formal education activities, and facilitating scientific research.
VCHT is committed to the sustainability and resiliency of all aspects of Vieques - it's people and the physical and cultural environment.
A lot of things are happening at the Trust. Click to read our news.
VCHT Gala at ORO
A Night at the Copacabana
Tickets available now
stop by the Trust Mon-Fri 8am-4pm
purchase via eventbrite
The Biobay Water Quality Monitoring Station is a major advancement in the conservation of the bioluminescent bay.