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Biosphere, Fauna and Flora in Cuba Naturaleza
Cuba Naturaleza Biodiversity

The Cauto Delta Wetland is the most extensive and complex delta system in Cuba

The Cauto Delta Wetland is the most extensive and complex delta system in Cuba and is one of the most important in the Caribbean. This wetland is formed by a complex of estuaries, lagoons, tidal areas and swamps that are at the end of the largest river system in Cuba (Río Cauto). They form the second most important wetland in Cuba. In general, its swamps, lagoons and open areas form landscapes of singular beauty, which together with its relative inaccessibility and the difficulty of travelling through the area have allowed this area to remain unaffected by humans.

The Cauto Delta Wetland is an enclave in the Sur Oriental region of the island of Cuba, occupying the western part of the municipio of Río Cauto, province of Granma, bounded on the north with the municipio of Jobabo in the province of Las Tunas, on the south with the western part of the municipio of Yara, on the east with the rest of the municipio of Río Cauto and on the west with the Gulf of Guacanayabo. The closest cities are Bayamo, approximately 1 ½ hours away and Las Tunas 2 hours distant.

Cauto Delta Wetland
North latitude 20° 20’ 41” – 20° 45’ 57”
East longitude 76° 58’ 25” – 77° 23’ 03”
Altitude: less than one metre above sea level
Area: 47,836.2 hectares
Average temperature: 25–28° C
Average relative humidity: 80–82
Average annual precipitation: 700–1200 millimetres

Mangroves with a relevant high degree of conservation status dominate, growing up to 30 metres in height.

These populations are considered by several specialists as the most vigorous and best conserved in Cuba.

It contains four species: Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove), Avicennea germinans (black mangrove), Conocarpus erectus (yana) (buttonwood) and Laguncularia racemosa (pataban) (white mangrove), with clear dominance of black mangrove.

A total of 114 species, of which 13 are endemic, have been reported for the area. Among the main species for which the wetland is particularly important are the following: Belairia mucronata, Copernicia baileyana, Copernicia gigas, Copernicia rígida, Copernicia vespertilionun, Harrisia eriophara, Rhodocactus cubensis, Sabal parviflora, Tabebuina augustata and the Catesbea gamboana local endemic species.

This is a site of high biological diversity and endemism. There are 143 species of fauna represented, with that of birds the best-represented group, with 105 species, distributed in 18 orders, 43 families and 112 genera. Eight species of endemic birds live in this area, two species of amphibians, and some 17 species of reptiles.

The Cauto Delta Wetland sustains populations of resident endangered species that find refuge, food and nesting sites here, such as the catey (Aratinga euops), which is endemic and vulnerable; Cuban tree duck (yaguasa) (Dendrocygna arborea), endemic to the Caribbean and vulnerable; lagartija de Birama (Anolis birama), local endangered endemic; American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), a vulnerable species with the largest populations in Cuba in this wetland; jicotea (Trachemis decussata), Cuban Boa (Epicrates angulifer), Cuban amazon (Amazonas leucocephala), considered almost endangered; the Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), a vulnerable mammal; the Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila), classified as vulnerable. There are also important populations of Catesbea gamboana, a species of local endangered endemic flora.

This wetland regularly sustains a population of more than 20,000 aquatic birds, among which the most important are the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), pelican (Pelicanus occidentalis), Cuban tree duck (yaguasa) (Dendrocygna arborea) and several species of herons. This wetland regularly sustains significant numbers of specimens of several groups of aquatic birds that are indicator species of the importance and productivity or the diversity of the wetlands. The most significant example is the case of the American flamingo, up to 35,000 specimens.

In this wetland are found significant populations of fish in more than 15 families. Among the important salt-water fish because of their numbers are the sábalo (Megalops atlanticus), mojarra (Gerres sp.) and cubereta (Lutjanus sianopterus). Among the outstanding freshwater fish because of their abundance are Claridichytus falcatus, Gambusia puncticulata, Geraldinus matacillus and Limea vitata. However, there is still a lack of information in this sense and there are no updated inventories and studies of the ecological interactions of these species.

 
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© 2017 Nigel Hunt