Cuba journal: Top predators on the reef

Happy World Oceans Day everyone! Wow, it’s hard to compete with Helen’s whale shark story for a close encounter with an awesome sea creature! Since it’s still fresh in my mind, I’ll go with an experience from our recent trip to Cuba. At the risk of giving you a case of elasmobranch overload, this features some of the “little” cousins of Helen’s friend: the Caribbean reef shark and the silky shark.

I’ve been in the water with sharks a few times, mainly on the Great Barrier Reef back in the day, where they were pretty plentiful, and in the Bahamas. But over the last decade or two in the Caribbean nothing but the odd nurse shark.

Cuba was a different story and a major thrill. Lots of fish – and big ones — including goliath groupers, black groupers, big shoals of grunts and snappers drifting back and forth in the swell just above the reef. Great swirling, graceful clouds of planktivores above the reef edge.

Bu the big thrill was the sharks. Here’s a video from Cueva del Pulpo (“Octopus Cave) – I had to back up to get far enough away to get the whole critter in the viewfinder:

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Then there were the silky sharks . . .

These guys were not quite as nosy as the reef sharks but took a great interest in the divers as they came back to the boat, circling 4 or 5 at a time around the fantail as we approached and emerged from the water (I was assured that they’re safe . . .). I love how the filtered light plays over their bodies as they swim. Just for fun, try humming the ominous Jaws theme in the first few seconds as the shark materializes from the blue:

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Exhilarating — lots of adrenaline.

2 Responses to “Cuba journal: Top predators on the reef”

  1. Barbara says:

    Very cool! Your 2nd video doesn’t seem to be working though :-(

  2. Emmett Duffy says:

    Hi Barbara – please try it again. It works for me on several different computers. The cincopa embedding sometimes takes more than one try to load the video (maybe a sign that I should discontinue that method . . .)

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