Cayo Largo

Feb 22, 2018 - Harmony V

Today we spent the day at the beautiful Cayo Largo, which is part of the Canarreos Archipelago and is located East of the Island of Youth. Harmony V anchored off the western tip of the key and we boarded a tender boat, Ballenato, that transported us to the main marina. Just there we saw numerous fishes under the dock, including gray snappers, sergeant majors and even several 5 foot-long tarpons, making for a pretty good start of the day.

We walked a short distance to visit the local medical clinic. Some of the nurses and doctors that work there explained to us how they take care of not only the Cubans that work in Cayo Largo, but also visitors from all over the world. Let's remember that this small key is an international tourist destination and the local airport receives direct flights from Milan, Moscow and other cities.

Not far from the clinic is the Sea Turtle Conservation Center, and we visited it. It is dedicated to protect the nests of sea turtles along most of the 25 km long Cayo Largo; they relocate the nests of those turtles that laid their eggs in areas where flooding may put them at risk, and incubate them at their facility. Once the baby turtles are born, they are released at the same beach where their mother dug her nest. We learned all this from Leonardo Valido, one of the main members of the Turtle Conservation Center and also had the chance to meet some of the green turtles up close and personal.

After leaving the sea turtles and their keeper, we divided into two different groups. Some went to the beautiful Playa Sirena (Mermaid Beach) where they enjoyed some real nice white sand, palm trees and a drink. The rest of us boarded Ballenato again to go snorkeling at a reef nearby, where we had a great time watching many species of coral, sponges and fishes, including blue tangs, yellowtail snappers, bluestriped grunts and a couple of nurse sharks, among many others. We even spotted an introduced and invasive lionfish from the Indian Ocean! The crystal-clear water and the colorful marine life gave us a good appetite that we honored once back on board Harmony V, which weighed anchor shortly after lunch to continue our exploration off the southern coast of Cuba.

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

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