Bay of Pigs

Feb 25, 2018 - Harmony V

The first full day of our trip along the southern shoreline of Cuba was a great one; we divided into two groups in order to do different activities during the morning. Some decided to wake up early and went birding in the vicinity of the small town of Bermejas, which is located in the Bay of Pigs area and very close to the Zapata Swamp National Park. They had a very good time walking around town and on some trails in the tropical deciduous forest, where numerous bird species were seen, including several endemic to Cuba. Among the "lifers" that they watched were a couple of endemic owls, the Cuban pygmy owl, the bare-legged owl, the Cuban blackbird, the blue-headed and the gray-fronted quail-doves, and the stunning bee hummingbird. Great start!

The rest of us enjoyed breakfast at a more civilized hour and headed to the same area where the birders were having fun to visit the Bay of Pigs Museum located in the town of Girón. The small museum is dedicated to those events and battles of the failed invasion attempted by 1,400 CIA-trained exiled Cubans in April of 1961; it is a very interesting place where we were able to see numerous photographs and objects utilized by the combatants, including a couple of tanks and a Sea Fury airplane. The birding group joined us there and we all visited the museum before partying ways again, as the second group went snorkeling. We snorkeled the crystal-clear waters of the Bay of Pigs at Punta Perdíz and watched a great variety of tropical fish, including several parrotfish species, yellowtail snappers, blue tangs, queen triggerfishes, and many more.

Immediately after finishing lunch at the Tiki restaurant in Playa Larga, we listened to Armando Herrera, who works for the Zapata Swamp National Park and talked to us about the challenges and assets of that largest of all Cuban reserves. After that we all traveled to the nearby town of Palpite and visited the Korimakao Community Project, where professional artists develop their music, dances and visual arts to share with people in small towns and settlements throughout the region. We attended some of their rehearsals and greatly enjoyed their art. Very close from them there is "the hummingbird house", where a local family has been attracting hummingbirds to their backyard for more than a decade. We visited it and had the pleasure to admire the smallest, tiniest bird on earth, the bee hummingbird! Numerous other birds were present on the backyard, including the larger green emerald hummingbird, the Cuban oriole, and the red-shouldered blackbird. What a great day we had in the Bay of Pigs area!

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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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