| Jamaica Introduction
You Want to Avoid
Remember when your mom told you, “Look but don’t touch?”
Those words of wisdom come in handy here. Although most plants
and animals are harmless, you’ll find a few creepy crawlies both
in and out of the water as well as some plants that are best avoided:
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traveler to the heart of Jamaica, to the miles of sand beaches,
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(Caesalpinia bonduc): This shrub won’t inflict any permanent
damage, it will rip at you with its hooked thorns as you walk
Cowitch (Mucuna pruriens and Helicteres jamaicensis):
Think of fiberglass on a vine. Think how much you’d itch if you
brushed into this plant, covered with fine fibers, as you walked
along in shorts. Think of avoiding this one.
Fire coral: There are many varieties, all of
which are edged in white. If you accidentally brush against the
coral, it will defend itself and burn you.
Jellyfish: These wobbly creatures can inflict
painful stings. The best treatment? Rubbing ammonia on the affected
area. If you don’t have any ammonia with you on the beach, do
as a watersports guy once recommended to us on a Montego Bay beach:
urinate on the sting.
Maiden plum (Comocladia dentata): Be prepared
for a nasty rash from this weed if you come in contact with its
sap. The weed is dark green with ovate-shaped leaves.
Manchineel (Hippomane mancinella): These trees,
members of the spurge plant family, have highly acidic leaves
and fruit. During a rain, water dropping off the leaves can cause
painful burns on your skin and the tree’s tiny apples will also
burn when stepped on. In most resorts, manchineel trees have been
removed or are clearly marked, often with signs and with trunks
No-See-Ums. Tucked into that oh-so-wonderful sand
lie tiny sand fleas, waiting to bite when the sand cools. You won’t
feel their bites, but just wait a day or two: welts like jumbo mosquito
bites will make themselves apparent and they’ll itch for days. To
avoid the no-see-ums, stay off the sand at sunset. The fleas are
most active when the sand cools.
Sand spurs (Cenchrus genus): Also called the “wait-a-minute,”
this pesky thorn will penetrate unsuspecting bare feet that stumble
across it in the sand. Follow mom’s advice once again and wear
Scorpionfish: This mottled pinkish fish hangs
out on coral and is so ugly it actually looks dangerous – and
it is. Stay away from this one.
Sea urchins: Avoid stepping on their brittle
spines, which break off and lodge in your feet.
Snakes: Jamaica does not have any poisonous
snake species. You might come across a harmless grass snake (Alsophis
cantherigerus), which feeds on frogs and lizards.
Stingrays: Dangerous if stepped on. Make them
aware of your presence by dragging your feet when wading.
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