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The Nature in The Bahamas: Animals in Land and Sea

Shark in Bahamian waters

The Bahamas, a chain of islands with limited large open space, is unable to support animals of great size on land. However, the fauna remains diverse and unique in land and sea.

The waters surrounding the Bahamas offer a rich and diversified marine life. there are some 900 sq miles of reefs, including the third-longest barrier reef in the world off the east coast of Andros.

The reefs are populated with eels, clownfish, angelfish, barracudas, Nassau grouper, nurse sharks and porcupine fish. Other marine life in the Bahamas waters are sponges, conch, lobster, hogfish, snapper, bonefish and many other fish. Several species of whales and dolphins, including the humpback and blue whales and spotted dolphin, are found in the seas around the islands.

On land, various species of amphibians exists like the Cuba tree frog as well as reptiles including turtles, Bahamian boa constrictor, pygmy boa and blind worm snake.

There are no poisonous snakes on the islands. There are also different kinds of lizards, including iguanas and curly tailed lizards.

About 230 species of birds migrate to or live in the Bahamas islands. They include the Bahama parrot, Bahama wood star, hummingbird, woodpecker and West Indian flamingo. Other interesting birds include the great blue heron, barn owl, peregrine falcon and Bahama duck.

It is believed that 13 species of mammals are native in the islands, of which 12 are bats. The other is the hutia, a rodent-like creature. There are also populations of wild pigs, donkeys, goats, racoons and Abaco wild horses.

There are several poisonous animals living on the islands or in the waters around. The black widow spider is possibly the most venomous species.

The venom of the black widow is a powerful neutroxin. capable of killing humans but more likely to cause severe pain. The centipede and the Cuban tree frog are other poisonous animals.

In the waters around the island there are 3 species of stingrays which have tail barbs with venom glands. The most common injury occurs when stepping on barbs of a stingray half-buried in the sand.

The Portuguese man-of-war is a coelenterate that appears as a translucent blue float on the ocean surface with hanging, poisonous tentacles.

The Nature in The Bahamas: Native Plants

Bahamian Flower
Vegetation in The Bahamas is similar to that of Florida and Cuba. Native trees include Lignum vitae, Mahogany, Caribbean pine, Candlewood, Red Cedar and more. Native species are also shrubs like Cascarilla, Strong back or Yellow Elder, as well as mangroves and various kinds of palms.

Native wild fruit trees include Pigeon plum, Coco plum, Sea grape, Tamarind, Sugar apple, Guava. Cultivated backyard fruit trees include Mango, Banana, Avocado, Paw paw, Hog plum, Gooseberry.

Poisonous plants include Poisonwood which contains the poison urushiol. It causes a rash and in cases of smoke inhalation, lung damage. Most people show a reaction when they have continued contact.

Manchineel is a highly dangerous tree because of its poisonous green fruit and toxic latex. Rain water or dew from these trees can cause temporary blindness when brought in contact with eyes.

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