Cayo Largo

Jan 04, 2018 - Harmony V

Today we visited Cayo Largo, the largest island in the Canerreos Archipelago. There are no permanent residents on the island – workers commute for their three-week long shifts, then leave for 10 days. A half dozen resorts attract mostly European and Canadian tourists. Many probably come for the mangrove and white sand shores; Playa Sirena was recently voted one of the top three beaches in the world. 

At the health clinic that provides care for the island’s workers and tourists we learned more about Cuba’s health care system by meeting with doctors and nurses. The small clinic is well organized and supplied, but patients requiring special care can be flown to Havana. 

Cayo Largo is a very important nesting area for loggerhead and green sea turtles, and we visited the Sea Turtle Breeding Center. Their aim is to increase nesting success of sea turtles carefully moving eggs that turtles have laid in ”at risk” areas, and allowing the eggs to develop in their well-protected facility. Hatchlings are raised in pools, and later released. We saw several tiny two-month old and one-year old green sea turtles.

The island’s many mangroves provide shelter and food for juvenile fishes that later move out to coral reefs. Many of us went snorkeling from a boat, and beneath the surface there was a beautiful “garden” of sea fans (soft corals). There were many fish species, too, including a large Caribbean stingray, schools of blue tangs, and small blue-headed wrasses. We also went to seven-mile long Playa Sirena, and enjoyed its soft, white sand.

Prior to dinner, we had our final recap of the voyage. We saw images from today’s snorkeling and heard about some “fishy” behaviors from Berit, saw colorful and abstract images taken in caves by Fabio, and had a chance to ask our Cuban guide Juan Jose more questions about life in Cuba. We are traveling tonight, and at sunrise tomorrow we will be in Cienfuegos Bay.

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About the Author

Berit Solstad


Berit grew up on the rocky shores of Marblehead, Massachusetts. In the tidal cove behind her family’s home she found horseshoe crabs, eels, and feeding frenzies of fishes and birds. Low tides exposed clam flats, crabs, mussels, and snails. She explored this marine environment through changing tides and seasons, nurturing a love of natural history and marine biology.

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