January 19, 2016

Fellow intrepid explores, we come to you today reminiscing of Cuba, an isolated and exotic country with many colors to spare. Among the fascinating features that Cuba has to offer, the country’s marine protected area, The Gardens of the Queen, http://oceandoctor.org/gardens/, makes the top of the list. We recently got to experience this illusive diving haven for ourselves, swimming, exploring and collecting imagery for Ocean First Education. Boasting some of the healthiest corals in the Caribbean, these waters attract all sorts of peculiar creatures. Among them are the groupers.

Puppy-like Groupers in CubaKnown as a Grouper’s paradise, Jardines de la Reina is home to many of these endangered species. The Black grouper, curious and friendly, would oftentimes follow us throughout our dives, while its behemoth cousin, the Goliath grouper, tagged along as well. Weighing in at a modest 200 pounds, these massive fish are like the St. Bernard puppy you always wanted; nagging for more play time, ready to nip at anything dangling in front of it, and giving ‘grouper eyes’ when it comes time for us to surface. These grumpy looking giants have become very comfortable around divers and in some cases, perhaps a little too comfortable. Invading personal bubble aside, they are known for their poor manners, namely, their colossal yawns. If you catch one at the right moment, you’ll be looking through their mouth all the way down to their tail. Even their gills are wide open enough for you to see the fish swimming behind them.

Puppy-like Groupers in CubaAll joking aside, we have to give the grouper props. As the media guru’s of the team, we are always excited to dive with photogenic and inquisitive animals. With their droopy eyes and dopey grin, who wouldn’t love to see these guys in a marine science curriculum? Keep a lookout for Grumpy and Dopey, as well as for our upcoming shark course, The Truth about Sharks. Much of the footage you will see will have come to you straight from The Gardens of the Queen.

Until next time…

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