Leonid's Tunnels: Diving in Trinidad 
 by Aimara Fernández
 
 
Leonid, who lives in Casilda, a fishing community just 5km away from the city of Trinidad, is a diver by profession and a motorist at heart. He usually rides his Harley Davidson bike for hours enjoying the freedom he has always been accustomed to as a man who has been in communion with nature all of his life. He has three loves in his life: his family, diving and motorbikes. One warm winter morning on the southern coast of Cuba in the Ancón Peninsula, over 10 years ago, he discovered a unique spot of marine nature: underwater tunnels that penetrate the ocean depths and come out beyond the island shelf. This is his story…

Photographs by Juan Carlos Alom, © All rights reserved.
 
 



Leonid, who lives in Casilda, a fishing community just 5km away from the city of Trinidad, is a diver by profession and a motorist at heart. He usually rides his Harley Davidson bike for hours enjoying the freedom he has always been accustomed to as a man who has been in communion with nature all of his life. He has three loves in his life: his family, diving and motorbikes.

One warm winter morning on the southern coast of Cuba in the Ancón Peninsula, over 10 years ago, he discovered a unique spot of marine nature: underwater tunnels that penetrate the ocean depths and come out beyond the island shelf. One of the entrances to Leonid Tunnels is found along the coast in a place called La Batea close to Playa de La Boca in Trinidad.

Leonid, who lives in Casilda, a fishing community just 5km away from the city of Trinidad, is a diver by profession and a motorist at heart. He usually rides his Harley Davidson bike for hours enjoying the freedom he has always been accustomed to as a man who has been in communion with nature all of his life. He has three loves in his life: his family, diving and motorbikes.

From 1995 to 2000, indiscriminate fishing led to the partial damage of some areas of Cuba’s marine environment with the subsequent negative consequences for professional divers. One January morning, Leonid parked his bike on one side of the road and entered into the ocean after months of complete inactivity. In his dive, he found a group of connecting labyrinths, perfectly formed caves with spacious chambers and narrow tunnels that rise like chimneys.

The entrance to the first tunnel that Leonid found is 12-15 meters deep and goes down to the wall at 31 meters. From this first tunnel, you find another entrance that starts to go up at 25 meters, and it goes out again to the wall. Somewhat further, divers find what is known as the chimney due to its verticality and narrowness. Here, you dive out at 12 meters, which is the minimum depth of the shelf on the southern coast of Cuba.

The area where the diving centers are located take up much of the Ancón Peninsula, which extends several kilometers into the sea. The peninsula is a natural reserve with a great diversity of fauna, in which birds are predominant. This narrow strip of land is bordered by a sandy seabed with patches of coral, ridges, tunnels, channels and other features, with concentrations of black coral, a wide range of sponges, gorgonians, common sea fans and tropical fish.

Leonid’s discovery of the marine tunnels that were named after him has remained as one of the most important events in his life. Leonid works as a professional guide for individual or group diving expeditions. Being an ordinary man, when people recognize him as the discoverer of the tunnels, he always replies: “The tunnels were always there, I only woke them up.”

Leonid's Tunnels: Diving in Trinidad
April 2012
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