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Maria la Gorda overview
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Scuba Diving in Cuba, Caribbean
Dive Site: Yemaya
Location: Maria la Gorda, Cuba
Description: Wall and tunnel
Depth: 30 metres + (100 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
In the Santeria religion, an African religion practised in Cuba, Yemaya is the Goddess of the sea. The dive starts on a near vertical wall and finishes on the shallow reef that tops the wall at about 12 metres. The boat waits for divers to surface in the shallows where the reef becomes patchier. Within the wall there are deep gouges that make good tunnels for divers to explore. All sorts of obscure sponges line the tunnels and the wall including elephant's ear, barrel and many other encrusting or bulbous forms. The coral growth is equally diverse with beautiful sea fans, staghorn, black, whip and elkhorn varieties on display. This was my first dive in Cuba and it was a little too hurried for my liking. I was hoping to spend time looking at all the beautiful coral and sponge growth on the wall, but because the dive guide wanted to take us through a number of tunnels there wasn't much time to hang around. We visited the site again later in the week which was a great thing to do because it meant we knew the route and knew what to expect, so could make the most of the dive. On the second dive we also saw more pelagics on the wall where there were tuna and a shoal of about fifty jacks. Leaving the final tunnel there was a purple vase sponge with three colourful shrimps in it. Away from the wall there were barracuda and two tarpon scaring off all the smaller fish and a large crab and a lobster under some rocks. On both dives we saw all the usual reef fish: creole wrasse hurtled past us, blennies and gobies busied themselves by the sand, squirrelfish sheltered among the rocks, triggerfish swam up to the surface and a pair of grey angelfish explored the reef together.
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