Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs (Spanish: Bahía de Cochinos) is an inlet of the Gulf of Cazones located on the southern coast of Cuba. By 1910, it was included in Santa Clara Province, and then instead to Las Villas Province by 1961, but in 1976, it was reassigned to Matanzas Province, when the original six provinces of Cuba were re-organized into 14 new Provinces of Cuba.

Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs from Cueva de los Peces
Bay of Pigs is located in Cuba
Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs
Location of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba
Geographical location of the Bay of Pigs
Coordinates22°13′N 81°10′W / 22.217°N 81.167°W / 22.217; -81.167Coordinates: 22°13′N 81°10′W / 22.217°N 81.167°W / 22.217; -81.167
Native nameBahía de Cochinos  (Spanish)
EtymologyCochino meaning both "pig" and "triggerfish"
Part ofGulf of Cazones
Ocean/sea sourcesCaribbean Sea
Max. lengthmax. 27 km (17 mi)
Max. widthmax. 10 km (6.2 mi)
Surface area200 km2 (77 sq mi)
Shore length187 km (54 mi)
Max. temperature29 °C (84 °F)
Min. temperature22 °C (72 °F)
IslandsCayo Piedra
SettlementsPlaya Girón, Playa Larga
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

The bay is historically important for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. The area is a site known for its diving, with an abundance of marine fauna, e.g. 30 species of sponges belonging to 19 families and 21 genera,[3] to be found in the bay.[4]


In Cuban Spanish, cochinos may also mean the queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula), which inhabit coral reefs in Bahía de Cochinos, not swine (Sus scrofa).[5][6]


Sunset in Playa Girón

This bay is approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Jagüey Grande, 70 kilometres (43 mi) west of the city of Cienfuegos, and 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast from the capital city Havana. On the western side of the bay, coral reefs border the main Zapata Swamp, part of the Zapata Peninsula. On the eastern side, beaches border margins of firm ground with mangroves and extensive areas of swampland to the north and east. At the north end of the bay, the village of Buena Ventura is adjacent to Playa Larga (Long Beach). 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of that, Playa Girón (Giron Beach) at the village of Girón, named after the notorious French pirate Gilberto Giron (c. 1604).[7]


Bay of Pigs, 1961

Playa Girón and Playa Larga were the landing sites for seaborne forces of armed Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, an American CIA-sponsored attempt to overthrow the new government of Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro in April 1961.

According to Fidel Castro's former bodyguard, the late Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, Castro lived in great luxury and had a private island called Cayo Piedra in the Bay of Pigs, replete with "mansions, guest houses, a heliport, dolphinarium, turtle lagoon, his luxury yacht Aquarama – a gift from Leonid Brezhnev – and deep-sea fishing speedboat".[8]


Monument honoring five Cuban political prisoners held captive in the United States

The Bay of Pigs is a relatively quiet site for diving. Dive centers exist in Playa Larga, Playa Girón and Caleta Buena. Twelve dive sites in the bay display excellent visibility of 20 to 40 metres (66 to 131 ft), an average water temperature of 22 °C (72 °F) in December and 29 °C (84 °F) in July. Walls of coral, caverns and a variety of fish (including the barracuda, lionfish and groupers, among others), coral and sponges can be found in the Bay of Pigs.[4]

The Cueva de los Peces, with 72 metres (236 ft) depth the deepest cenote of Cuba, is located at 18 kilometres (11 mi) south of Playa Larga.[9]


Surrounding the Bay of Pigs, the endemic wormlizards Amphisbaena barbouri and A. cubana have been noted.[10] The following marine species have been registered along the eastern coast of the Bay of Pigs:

Group Common name Scientific name Image Notes
Fish blue chromis Chromis cyanea
blue tang Acanthurus coeruleus
bluehead wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum
striped parrotfish Scarus iserti
beau gregory Stegastes leucostictus
bicolor damselfish Stegastes partitus
boga Inermia vittata
Colon goby Coryphopterus dicrus
creole wrasse Clepticus parrae
longfin damselfish Stegastes diencaeus
masked goby Coryphopterus personatus
threespot damselfish Stegastes planifrons
yellowhead wrasse Halichoeres garnoti
French grunt Haemulon flavolineatum
ocean surgeon Acanthurus bahianus
sergeant major Abudefduf saxatilis
slippery dick Halichoeres bivittatus
yellowtail snapper Ocyurus chrysurus
bar jack Caranx ruber
barred hamlet Hypoplectrus puella
brown chromis Chromis multilineata
foureye butterflyfish Chaetodon capistratus
graysby Epinephelus cruentatus
longjaw squirrelfish Holocentrus marianus
redband parrotfish Sparisoma aurofrenatum
royal gramma Gramma loreto
stoplight parrotfish Sparisoma viride
tomtate grunt Haemulon aurolineatum
white grunt Haemulon plumierii
porgies Calamus sp.
banded butterflyfish Chaetodon striatus
buffalo trunkfish Lactophrys trigonus
flat needlefish Ablennes hians
glasseye Heteropriacanthus cruentatus
longspine squirrelfish Holocentrus rufus
plate fish Bothus lunatus
red lionfish (invasive) Pterois volitans
spotfin butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus
trumpetfish Aulostomus maculatus
Sponges azure vase sponge Callyspongia plicifera
yellow tube sponge Aplysina fistularis
green finger sponge Iotrochota birotulata
orange icing sponge Mycale laevis
pink vase sponge Niphates digitalis
row pore rope sponge Aplysina cauliformis
touch-me-not sponge Neofibularia nolitangere
demosponges Cliona sp.
Cliona aprica
Cliona delitrix
Cliona varians
Aiolochroia crassa
Ectyoplasia ferox
Ircinia felix
Mycale laxissima
Plakortis angulospiculatus
Scopalina ruetzleri
Smenospongia aurea
Spirastrella coccinea
Corals boulder brain coral Colpophyllia natans
Caribbean sea whip Plexaura homomalla
elkhorn coral Acropora palmata
great star coral Montastraea cavernosa
maze coral Meandrina meandrites
purple sea fan Gorgonia ventalina
sea ginger Millepora alcicornis
Crustaceans Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus
Echinoderms donkey dung sea cucumber Holothuria mexicana
Mollusks queen conch Lobatus gigas

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Area Calculator
  2. ^ Distance Calculator
  3. ^ Caballero et al., 2009, p.95
  4. ^ a b (in Spanish) Bucear en Playa Girón - Bahía de Cochinos
  5. ^ Claro, Rodolfo; García-Arteaga, Juan P.; Gobert, Bertrand; Cantelar Ramos, Karel (13 May 2003). "Tabla 2. Pesos y tallas mínimos legales en Cuba y proporción de peces con tallas inferiores en las capturas con chinchorros y nasas de la empresa pesquera de Caibarién" (PDF). Situación actual de los recursos pesqueros del Archipiélago Sabana-Camagüey, Cuba. Invemar. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  6. ^ "Common Names List - Balistes vetula". Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  7. ^ Rodríguez Cruz, 1999, p.115
  8. ^ (in Spanish) Cerca de 20 mansiones, tres yates y un helipuerto son algunas de las posesiones de Fidel Castro
  9. ^ (in Spanish) La Cueva de los Peces, el cenote más profundo y bello de Cuba
  10. ^ Rodríguez Schettino et al., 2013, pp.9–10
  11. ^ Chevalier & Cárdenas, 2005, p.60
  12. ^ Chevalier & Cárdenas, 2005, p.61
  13. ^ Chaetodon striatus
  14. ^ Lactophrys trigonus
  15. ^ Ablennes hians
  16. ^ Heteropriacanthus cruentatus
  17. ^ Holocentrus rufus
  18. ^ Bothus lunatus
  19. ^ Pterois volitans
  20. ^ Chaetodon ocellatus
  21. ^ Aulostomus maculatus
  22. ^ Callyspongia plicifera
  23. ^ Caballero et al., 2009, p.101
  24. ^ Colpophyllia natans
  25. ^ Plexaura homomalla
  26. ^ Acropora palmata
  27. ^ Montastraea cavernosa
  28. ^ Meandrina meandrites
  29. ^ Gorgonia ventalina
  30. ^ Millepora alcicornis
  31. ^ Panulirus argus
  32. ^ Holothuria mexicana
  33. ^ Lobatus gigas


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit