Laguna de Maya, adventure among the mangroves
BY YAHUMILA HIDALGO CERUTO, PHOTOS: DANY HERNÁNDEZ / XELVATIC IMÁGENES
Bird watching and beautiful scenery for diving and wildlife photography come together in the same place: Laguna de Maya. The area is a wildlife refuge in the Cuban province of Matanzas, with a unique system of lagoons that connect with the sea through canals, surrounded by a well-preserved mangrove forest.
It is a protected zone with areas designed for lovers of adventure in contact with nature. It forms part of a system of marine-coastal terraces located about 12 kilometers from the provincial capital, in the direction of the Varadero beach resort and to the west of the town of Carboneras.
Zarapicos, black-necked stilts, tri-colored herons and Roseate spoonbills are some of the aquatic birds that can be seen, along with forest birds such as warblers, doves and woodpeckers, from the serenity of a boat ride or walking along observation trails.
In the winter months, the lagoon receives its seasonal guests. Some groups of migratory birds from Europe and North America make a temporary stay in the calm waters of Maya. Wood ducks and tri-colored herons, among other species, co-exist with the residents sharing food.
Smaller, but no less important in the complicated fabric of life that makes up the lagoon, are the charismatic fiddler crabs. In colonies of up to a thousand, and measuring no more than three centimeters in size, these crustaceans colonize the lower areas of the marsh in search of the organisms hidden in the mud that constitute their diet.
In the flora, which has been classified by specialists in more than 70 species, the visitor’s attention is drawn to the intertwined mangrove roots that form a curious network leading through the lagoon system, where lizards, crabs and mollusks co-exist. Nature photography lovers will find fascinating scenery and worlds to discover through the image.
The Laguna de Maya wildlife refuge, as part of Cuba’s National System of Protected Areas, has a team of experts who guarantee the preservation of the natural attributes of the area. They are currently carrying out population studies of different bird species and are developing a marine life conservation project, consisting of the creation of nurseries using coral fragments to contribute to the ecological restoration of the reef.
Other options for healthy pleasure are snorkeling and scuba diving in the two areas enabled for these recreational activities. The guides, specialized divers, accompany visitors to immerse themselves in an underwater universe, home to diverse corals, fish and other species of marine wildlife. Laguna de Maya invites you for an incredible adventure where nature is the protagonist. A journey through one of the most wonderful Cuban coastal spots.