The Magic of Cuba’s Coastal and Underwater Treasures

Brown Bowl Sponge (Cribochalina vasculum), Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, Pinar del Rio Province, western Cuba, September

Brown Bowl Sponge (Cribochalina vasculum), Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, Pinar del Rio Province, western Cuba. Por Claudio Contreras.

By Eduardo Najera and Fay Crevoshay.

The WILDCOAST team carried out an expedition to Cuba in September with a film crew from “Por el Planeta”, a national news program on Mexico’s Televisa network. The objective was to document the incredible richness of Cuba’s coral reef and mangrove ecosystems and protected areas. It is almost impossible to describe or even depict the beauty and of Cuba’s underwater and coastal treasures and their importance for the conservation of ocean biodiversity. But at places like Jardines de la Reina, one of the world’s most well preserved marine protected areas, or at Guanahacabibes National Park, the richness of the corals and mangroves give life to the ocean.

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Wilderness Thrives in Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Park

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WILDCOAST has over 15 years experience working to preserve some of the world’s most pristine coastal wilderness areas such as Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast, Laguna San Ignacio and the remote sea turtle nesting beaches of Oaxaca. Now we are fortunate to work in another globally unique wilderness area, on the Cuba’s western shore, in the 98,412 acre Guanahacabibes National Park.

 

The giant scallop bay that reaches to within 120 miles of the Yucatan Peninsula, is part of Cuba’s expansive network of protected areas. Both land and sea are conserved here by Cuba’s National Park System, keeping what could be so easily destroyed untouched. Wildlife thrives on shore, including iguanas, fascinating birds, giant hutias – a large rodent native to a few Caribbean islands, bats and crocodiles. Below the surface of the steamy Caribbean there is equally diverse life. Coral reefs, some of the least impacted by bleaching on the planet, create forests, canyons and cliffs of marine habitat. Tropical fish dart between fan and brain corals. Sea turtles cruise the upper levels of the water column. And the occasional reef shark calmly passes below.

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