I was very fortunate to be invited to join The Ocean Doctor ( on a people-to-people cultural exchange trip to Cuba. аWe spent three days in Havana (please see the “On Land” photos of Havana) visiting Revolutionary Square, The Revolutionary Museum Finca La Vigia (Ernest Hemmingway’s home in Cuba) and the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation of Nature and Man аMuseum. (Antonio Nunez Jimenez was a Cuban revolutionary with Che Guevara and became the Minister of Agricultural Reform after the Revolution. аHe authored Geography of Cuba, a standard text in Cuba.) аWe also dove The Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina) which is a marine preserve in Southeast Cuba. аGardens of the Queen was named by Christopher Columbus to honor the Queen of Spain. аIt encompasses over 837 square miles and is one of the largest marine parks in hte Caribbean and probably the healthiest marine area in the Caribbean. аAfter the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Cuba no longer had financial support the Cuban government needed to develop new sources of revenue. аAt the аurgring of Dr. Julio Baisre (Vice Director of the Cuban National Aquarium), the Gardens of the Queen was set aside as a nature preserve by the Castro government and fishing was dramatically reduced. аOver the years the reefs and marine wildlife have flourished and now a limited amount of fishing and a maximum of 1,000 scuba divers per year are allowed into the area. аTo say that the area is pristine is an understatement. аThe reefs are in the best condition of any reefs in the Caribbean and the fish populations are nothing short of abundant (although the Lionfish population is growing and is presenting its own problems to the area.) аWe had constant 82-85 degree water temperatures with almost no currents on any of the dives. аThe Caribbean Reef Sharks and Golaith Grouper populations are abundant and about as “diver friendly” as can be expected. аWhen diving in Gardens of the Queen you quickly realize how much damage has been done to the reefs in the Caribbeanin areas such as Nassau, Honduras, the Virgin Islands and the British West Indies. аThe damage is done by human waste, herbicides, pesticides, insectides and overfishing. аThe research to date has shown that due to the protection offered at Gardens of the Queens the areas outside the Gardens are now seeing a rebirth of both the reefs and marine life. аIt is a model for what can be done to repair a damaged environment. аI hope you enjoy the photos and I also hope you will take some time to think about the damage we are doing to our oceans. а

All these photos were taken with a Canon G-16 camera in a Fantasea housing. аI used a Fantasea Radiant 1600 Video Light and a Sea & Sea YS-D1 Strobe. аIn between dives one day we went ashore and I have included those shots and some of the boat as well.

John and Alligator-3

ай Robert Frank 2015