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NEWS

Best way to experience Avalon Wild Life is in person -- of course. But between adventures, you can come to our client eco news reader and live vicariously through other eco tourists.

This is where all Avalon ecotourist come to hang out, share stories, compare pictures, and find out what is going on at Avalon Wild Life even when they can't join us.

Tight Lines,
Avalon Wild Life Team

Boulders in the Jardines de la Reina archipelago: rocks to tell the future

The Caribbean region is a tsunami and hurricane - prone area. Of course we do not see as many tsunamis as hurricanes, but events that trigger the former are actually very common; just think about the many quakes that has recently kept the inhabitants of Santiago de Cubasleepless for several days and nights. Volcanism and submarine slides present in the area, may also cause tsunamis.

The Ana Maria Keys Wildlife Refuge:  A hidden treasure in central Cuba’s southern coast

The Ana Maria keys are located in the Gulf of Ana Maria, an ecosystem limited by the southern coasts of the provinces of Sancti-Spiritus, Ciego de Avila Ciego and Camaguey, the northern keys of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago and the Gulf of Guacanayabo (east).

A wildlife refuge is an area (marine, terrestrial or the combination of both) where protection and management of habitat and species turns critical to the migratory or resident wild fauna. This management category does not restrict anthropogenic activities related to the management of its natural resources as long as human intervention abides by the regulations established for such areas.

The parrotfishes of the Gardens of the Queen: a colorful family of great ecological importance

Scientific research on the biodiversity of Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) has targeted fishes among the conspicuous fauna of the area. Over 250 species have been identified. Groupers, snappers, jacks, grunts, wrasses, parrot fishes and sharks are the most important groups regarding commercial value and ecological importance.

Can remoras scare the silky sharks of the Gardens of the Queen?

Remoras are peculiar fish which maximum size is about 1 m. They are better known as suckerfish,for they are commonly found attached to sharks, turtles, rays, whales and other marine mammals. Small remoras may also travel in the mouths or gills of certain fish species and even attached to boats and ships. Curiously, they may also attach to divers!

MARCUBA 2015: Bridges of good intentions to protect the ocean

The Tenth Congress on Marine Sciences (MARCUBA) was held at the Havana Convention Center November 16 – 20, 2015. The main goal of the conference was the integration of marine scientists, institutions and countries in their endeavours to face environmental issues through actions and projects leading to an efficient management.

The fish species of the northern coast of Ciego de Avila province

Information on biodiversity is required to undertake ecological studies on communities and ecosystems. As it is a difficult task, certain taxa that represent the main functional groups are targeted. It also happens with the studies to determine anthropogenic effect, where identification of human impact bioindicators is critical to draw conclusions and propose the right measures to manage natural resources. Fish are among such bioindicators due to their ecological role through predation, herbivorism, bioerosion and trophic-related aspects. Furthermore, the importance of fish is even greater because they are the principal resource of fisheries, the main human activity in the world ocean.

Nature privileges Jardines de la Reina with a unique plant species: the Cuban Petticoat Palm Tree

The Cuban Petticoat Palm Tree (Copernicia macroglossa) is endemic to western and central Cuba; it has a solitary trunk that reaches a height of about nine meters. A protruding inflorescence appears in summer. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. The female plant bears oval black berries. It is propagated by seeds, which take about two months to germinate. However, the unique feature of this palm is its fan-shaped leaves that have no petioles. If not removed, dry old leaves form a “petticoat” giving them palm a “dressed” appearance, hence the name Cuban Petticoat Palm Tree.

The underwater roots of mangroves, an amazing ecosystem

Mangrove forests cover an area of 15 2000 km2 in tropical and subtropical regions, less than 1 % of the tropical forests and less than 0.4 % of the world forests. In Cuba, mangroves cover 5 % of the nation’s area with a larger distribution in the southern coast, where the tallest and most exuberant trees can be found. Red, black and white mangroves together with buttonwood are the species that make up such forests. The red mangrove is the prevailing species in the Jardines de la Reina National Park.

The spiny lobster

Spiny lobsters have long, cylindrical bodies covered with spines. They are generally olive greenish or brown, but can be tan to mahogany. There is a scattering of yellowish to cream-colored spots on the carapace and larger (usually four to six) yellow to cream-colored spots on the abdomen. They may reach up to 60 cm (24 in) long, but typically around 20 cm (7.9 in).
Spiny lobster hatches from eggs carried externally by the female for around four weeks. They begin life as a free-swimming, microscopic larvae. After about one year, the larvae settle in algae and seagrass beds or among mangrove roots. After undergoing several molts, they migrate to the coral reefs and live in holes or crevices. After molting the shell is soft and has to harden, until this happens the lobster is highly vulnerable to predation.

The flora and vegetation of the Gulf of Ana Maria keys

Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time. It is defined as the diversity of plant species and is part of the vegetation.Vegetation is a broader term and refers to the ground cover provided by plants, their habits and size and gives a particular physiognomy to every plant community. The flora of Cuba has the largest number of species of all the Caribbean islands (≈7000), 50 % regarded as exclusive of the Cuban territory. Although the earliest plant studies in Cuba date back to 1553, information from some areas of the country, like the Gulf of Ana Maria, is limited.

Entomological studies in some keys of the Gulf of Ana Maria

Little is known about the entomologic diversity of the planet, hence the important ecological services of insects is widely ignored in most land ecosystems. Insects are seldom used when studying biological diversity; however they offer the opportunity to determine relatively inconspicuous but important ecosystem changes.

About 8 312 insect species are known in Cuba, but most of the country area has not been subject to entomological studies. Such is the case of the Gulf of Ana Maria keys where only 47 species has been reported for Cayo Algodon Grande. Most of these keys are small and the prevailing plant formations are mangroves and shoreline sand vegetation. Any negative impact on these plant formations would lead to species loss or changes in composition or abundance in the insect species. Entomological studies in this area may lead to find species of scientific interest.

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