In tropical and subtropical seas there are very few plants able to withstand high salinity, due to this very special condition, nature has created an ecosystem that fulfills important functions. Mangrove forests are true coffers of biodiversity, forming a transition zone between sea and land, they are subject to sudden changes, not only in salinity but also in temperature, humidity and mechanical stress.
One of the biggest attractions in Jardines de la Reina are the Crocodiles, people are crazy about them, and it is because here there are the best chances for photographers to take great shots of this beautiful animal.
Jardines de la Reina has the biggest population of Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) in the Caribbean. This endangered species has been suffering overfishing along the years, all over the gulf of Mexico and the wider Caribbean this fish has been killed for its meat, being such a big and easy target. The huge grouper has no chance against fishermen. The life cycle of this fish, together with its size, reproductive strategies and its slow growth rate, makes it very vulnerable.
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) is one of the most important reef building corals because their colonies are fast-growing and their complex structure is a shelter for many reef species and a natural barrier to protect mangroves and seagrasses from wave energy.
Mangroves and seagrasses are essential habitats in Jardines de La Reina, one of the main reasons why the reefs and fish populations in Jardines are so intact and rich, is the exuberant mangrove system in the gulf of Ana Maria and keys along the Archipelago.
Gardens of the Queen, a pristine 90-mile arc of mangroves and keys that snuggles up to Cuba’s southeastern coast, is quickly gaining a reputation as the sharkiest spot in the Caribbean. The area encompasses an 850-square-mile no-take marine reserve where a young Fidel Castro once loved to spearfish.
In the Jardines de la Reina archipelago you can find many small creatures that go unnoticed for most divers. We are talking about adult fishes one centimeter long or less, among these are the Gobies and Blennies.
We were diving at the point known as Black Coral I. After 22 minutes of bottom time, to avoid deco we began to go up through the mooring buoy rope. To reach the 5 feet deep safety stop, always surrounded by a dozen Caribbean Reef sharks, Carcharhinus Perezi, in milliseconds, a Bank of medium-sized fish, known in Cuba as mackerel.
Today virtually there are no recreational diving operations without some kind of interaction between divers and the sea inhabitants. Which Dive Master doesn’t have a fish friend to frequently visit, to care for, and to be as close as a family member?
There is a fish in the Cienaga de Zapata, the largest wetland in the Lesser Antilles, which is considered a living fossil. Dating back to the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era, the Manjuari of Cuba, is endemic of our country and its scientific name is Atractosteus tristoechus or Cuban Gar. It is a treasure of Cuban biodiversity.