Bay of Pigs

Mar 04, 2018 - Harmony V

We spent the whole day today in the Bay of Pigs area. Some of us wanted to go birding and woke up earlier than everyone else in order to arrive to the small settlement of Bermejas shortly after sunrise. Bermejas is located about one hour away by bus from Cienfuegos and in the outskirts of the famous Zapata Swamp National Park. Orlando Ramírez, a well-known birding expert from the area, was waiting for us and we started looking for birds immediately. Cuba is home to twenty-six bird species endemic to the island and those are the ones that bird watchers from all over the world come looking for. We located the first few endemic species right away, including feathered jewels such as the gray-fronted and blue-headed quail-doves, which even walked all around us in their search of seeds on the ground! Our good luck continued and by mid-morning the total count of endemics watched was fifteen, plus many more bird species. Amazing!

From Bermejas we traveled a short distance to the town of Girón and visited the local museum dedicated to the three days of battles during the failed invasion at Bay of Pigs. We looked at photographs from those times, learned many details and even saw some artifacts and vehicles utilized during the conflict, including a Sea Fury airplane and a couple of tanks. From the museum we headed to a wonderful spot located on the eastern shore of the Bay of Pigs named Punta Perdiz, where we spent the rest of the morning snorkeling. The calm and clear Caribbean waters were a dream and snorkelers enjoyed watching numerous coral, sponge, and fish species.

We enjoyed a delicious and well-deserved lunch at the Tiki Restaurant in Playa Larga and listened to an interesting talk by Armando Herrera from the Zapata Swamp National Park. Then we boarded our buses again to visit the Korimakao Community Project in the nearby town of Palpite. The Korimakao is a very interesting institution where plastic artists, dancers, and musicians train and organize cultural events to show in small towns and villages throughout the region. We enjoyed watching some rehearsals of the dance group and the music band and witnessed once again the great talent of the Cubans.

Just a few houses away from Korimakao is the famous "hummingbird house", where the family has been attracting hummingbirds and other bird species to their backyard, most notably the bee hummingbird. We all had the marvelous experience to watch up-close and personal that tiniest of birds and all had a smile on our faces as we headed back to Cienfuegos and our floating home, the Harmony V.

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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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