Adventures to have and places to see

Cuba Nature Hazards

Cuba is considered a safe place to travel as far as natural hazards go. There are a few things when walking or swimming that you should pay attention to. We were out on a group tour once at a hotel, and the guide asked “What is the most dangerous thing out here?” The answer was “us”. Our curiosity has a tendency to get in the way of common sense. The best rule of thumb to follow is to enjoy looking at nature, but don’t try to pick it up or get too close to it. Animals don’t know you are not a threat to them and will react defensively or aggressively if they feel they are in danger.

Even unsuspecting creatures like shellfish have defence mechanisms. A Cone Snail, for example, has a venomous barb it can use to catch prey and defend itself. The venom can be deadly to humans depending on the type of snail. So respect the animal and enjoy looking at it in its environment- but don’t try to handle it. The same goes for plants!

Signs like this are common in Cuban parks

Guao shrub/tree

These can give you a very nasty rash/burn much like Poison Ivy does in Canada. It is scientifically known as Comocladia and commonly as maidenplums.

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Mosquitos

The mosquitos in Cuba are different than the ones we have in Canada. The Cuban variety is very small and leaves an itchy bite. If you scratch that too often, you may get a rash and infection. Deet is a good deterrent for mosquitos.

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Giant African Snail

These snails are not native to Cuba and are an invasive species. They are destructive to hundreds of Cuban plants. They also carry parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans. If you see one, do not touch it and report it to the hotel if you can.

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Lionfish

Beautiful, but very dangerous due to venomous fin rays. These fish don’t have any predators and can be aggressive if you get too close. Take a wide berth if you come across one of these and pay attention to where they are.

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Portuguese man o’War

Portuguese Man-o-War Jibacoa

These have long, stinging tentacles that can trail up to a hundred feet behind the air bag!

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Barracuda

These are long slender fish with sharp teeth. They can move very fast when they want to. It is unlikely that they will attack you, but they may follow you thinking you are a larger predator and might leave something behind for them to scavenge. It is best not to get too close and keep an eye on their whereabouts (don’t turn your back on them). It is reported they are attracted to shiny objects.

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Barbfish

Barbfish have venomous spines and are very good at camoflaguing themselves. They aren’t aggressive towards humans, but sine they are so hard to see you might startle one unexpectedly and get stung.