Journey to Cuba's underwater Eden
In 2012, EDF senior writer Rod Griffin embarked on a scuba expedition to the Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, a spectacular undersea reserve off Cuba’s southern coast that has been off-limits to U.S. divers for more than 50 years.
Rod kept a diary of his 10-day-long adventure in the company of some of the world’s leading marine experts. Funded by the Waitt Foundation, the trip offers a rare glimpse of this underwater Eden, while underscoring the environmental threats facing even a relatively unspoiled patch of ocean.
Day 1: Bienvenidos a Cuba!
We enter an underwater realm that time left behind.
- Day 2: Close encounters
Diving with sharks: What was I thinking?
- Day 3: Ecotourism, Cuban-style
A look at Cuba’s unique approach to protecting the last Caribbean refuge.
- Day 4: Protecting Eden
As the country opens up, what will it take to secure a future for this rich marine ecosystem?
- Day 5: Drifting through an undersea forest
Snorkeling from reef crests to mangroves, we pass through a half dozen distinct yet interconnected habitats.
- Day 6: Exploring mangroves
Straddling land and sea, mangroves are the biological engines of the reef.
- Day 7: Invasion of the lionfish
The beautiful but deadly lionfish – a non-native species – could disrupt the delicate balance of Cuba’s reefs.
- Day 8: The Old Man and the Acropora
David Vaughan offers insights on why coral in the Gardens is among the healthiest in the Caribbean, yet still under threat.
- Day 9: Finding Nemo: the sequel
A fish identification expert searches for Nemo’s distant “cousin,” the elusive Cuban fairy basslet.
- Day 10: Group(er) sex
Everything about the goliath grouper is outsized, including its sex life.
Slideshow: Our work in Cuba
Cuba program director Dan Whittle shares experiences from an earlier trip to Cuba and discusses EDF's work on the environmental challenges facing the developing nation.