April 15, 2006 – First, the dozen people on the St. Croix Environmental Association's nature hike at Ha'Penney Bay on Saturday learned they really were not really going to hike Ha'Penny Beach. Most islanders refer to the beach at the end of the dirt road, which goes through two pink pillars off the South Shore Road in Estate Granard, as Ha'Penny Beach.
However, Ken Haines, the botanist and marine scientist who led the hike, informed the participants that the correct name for the locally popular beach was actually Manchinnel Beach. He said Ha'Penny Beach was to the left at the end of the road and could not be reached except through private property.
Haines then jumped into describing the flora and fauna of Manchinnel Beach.
One of the first trees to be described was the Manchinnel. The leaf of the tree has a pronounced center stem and comes to a point, but should not be confused with the Beach Mahoe, which has a similar shaped leaf.
Haines pointed out that making mistakes about the Manchinnel was not good. Early Europeans made the mistake of eating its sweet apple-like fruit and died. He said the white sap of the tree could cause skin rashes.
Other trees and plants he pointed out and described included the White Manjack (he said birds liked its white berries and Rasta's used them when washing their locks), Knicker Bean, (the seeds maker game pieces in the African game Warrri), Black Olive, Beach Morning Glories, and Ink Berry (do not eat unless you want to throw up.)
Haines explained why Sea Grapes seem trimmed at times in a uniform distance from the ocean: New branches die at the distance from the sea where the salt spray reaches in a high concentration.
At the waters edge he described various seaweed and how turtles feed on it.
As far as fauna, the group got a rare view of an iguana on that beach. Haines said he has been coming to that beach for 20 years and that was the first time he saw an iguana there.
The group also saw some a couple of ghost crabs and a killdeer with two young chicks. There were also many tracks showing where turtles had nested.
The guided hike was free to SEA members and $10 for nonmembers.
SEA will hold a field trip to Luca Gasperi's organic farm next Saturday. It is limited to 40 participants, and pre-registration is required by calling at 773-1364.
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