5 Seas was one of the most memorable dive sites in the Gardens of the Queen Cuba. The curious groupers stole my heart, and I found quite a few exceptional coral colonies, making this a perfectly balanced dive between corals and fish.
I have a preference for shallow dives. I like the extra light for taking pictures, and most corals I’m looking prefer to live shallower, closer to the sunshine. 5 Seas starts around 6m deep. The bottom is rocky with gorgonian fans and soft coral rods swaying in the current. Moments after entering this site curious groupers join in on your dive.
This dive site is perfect for beginners, new divers, refresher dives, or really any scuba diver that enjoys the easy diving lifestyle. 5 Seas most certainly earns its place in my top three favorite sites and a prime contender for first place!
Past the Gorgonian plateaux was a short wall down to 14m deep. Along the wall were some large angelfish, and a school of tarpon waiting below. We even spotted a reef shark when reaching the bottom, however, he didn’t stick around.
This was the dive site where we saw the least amount of sharks. Perhaps because I was to distracted by the groupers, or maybe there were just fewer sharks.
We also spotted a picture perfect colony of Dendrogyra cylindrus (Pillar Coral). This is one of the rarest corals in the Caribbean and is listed as a threatened species. This coral grows into pillars that can reach 2 m, 6 feet tall. This was a beautiful colony right below the boat. Make sure to search for this coral if you’re visiting 5 Seas!
Along the reef wall were a few more unique corals, an encrusting species of Meandrina jacksoni, (White Maze Coral). This species of Meandrina is less common, with a paler color and encrusting shape. That most common species is Meandrina meandrites, (Maze Coral) which forms smaller colonies, with a harder yellow surface.
You have to be a pretty dedicated coral spotter to get excited about the white maze coral. But once you properly identify both species, you will appreciate this uncommon coral colony.
Some other coral you can look for on this dive site is Mussa angulosa and Scolymia cubensis. These corals share a similar characteristic, that they both have large fleshy polyps. The biggest difference is that Mussa is a colonial coral, and Scolymia is a solitary coral.
Mussa colonies start with a single polyp then bud new polyps to make a dome-shaped colony. They can have just as bright coloration as Scolymia and seeing such large colonies is a real treat. These are very slow growing corals and have disappeared in much of the Caribbean due to sedimentation from coastal development, pollution, and climate change.