I am an animal girl. I LOVE animals… horses, dogs, turtles, birds, sea life, insects and even reptiles! Some times I will even try anything to save an animal!
Let me  bring you through my animal world. Sit tight because it is a bumpy ride to get there! Here we go!

‘Bird Photography’

A little back, I entered a bird photo competition organized by the Belize Tourism Board. I entered it for the experience and enjoyment of photography. I was clueless on how to begin... So, I took my equipment and headed out for a walk.

On the walk I saw many birds and got lots of pictures. Time flew by as it got dark, then I had to go home. The next few weekends, I continued to capture pictures of birds. Here is what I ended up with.

***all photos taken by Louke van Noord (me)***

For more photography- (instagram) @louke_van.noord


Protecting Conch: Strombus Gigas Alliance

The other day I talked with an expert of conch, Glenn Schwendinger, and I have some information to share with you guys about conch. First of all, we need to know the all the parts, we have the shell, foot, intestines, meat, pearl and other parts.

Uncle Glenn told me that he and other people (Strombus Gigas Association) are trying to protect the conch. If you didn't know the conch is endangered. And most people use only 10% and throw away 90% of it. Uncle Glenn is working on a way to use the whole conch instead of wasting it. By using the whole animal, the fishermen don’t need to catch more to make a living.

Some ways he uses the parts are, the shell as jewelry, plates, candle holders, salt and pepper shakers, rings, spoons, boules, and just as decoration itself. The shell is also smashed into pieces that are used for concrete and decoration for tiles. The more fine chips of conch (the powder) has carbonate in it and it is used for nutritional supplements for farm animals. Example: when you are preparing an animals meal, you put it in the food of this animal and then they have calcium carbonate in their diet.

• The foot is used for jewelry, wind chimes, and they are used to make structures.
• The intestines are used as fertilizers.
• Fun Fact: An old fisherman's tale, is that if you eat the enzyme rod (a part of the conchs' intestines, kinda like our small intestine) raw, you would gain strength.
• The meat is used for food.
• The pearl is used for jewelry. The pearl can be found in 1 out of 10,000 conches. It is a very rare item.

Now I will tell you about its babies.The conch lays 2 to 400,000 eggs per sack. That's a lot, but as they say, the more babies, the less chance of surviving. Conch babies have less than 1% of surviving. They take 3-5 years to mature. It is illegal to catch conch under 7 inches. The reason why this percentage is so low is because almost everything eats the babies.

There was however a place in Turks and Caicos that used to grow conch in protected national habitats but unfortunately a hurricane took it down. A university in Florida is studying and doing research about cultivating conch. (Growing them)

Some ways people get conch is by free diving. Then was fished out of shallow waters and conch went deeper into the ocean for protection. Now people get conchs with scuba tanks, Which is illegal and dangerous, dangerous because if you go up and down in the water too fast, you get decompression sickness. Decompression sickness is when you get air bubbles in you blood. Once you get this you can die or loose parts of your body. This is why it's illegal.

You may be wondering "why did the conch get endangered?" That is because it is easy to catch and it tastes good. In coastal areas, people began to overfishing them. The organization that protects endangered animals is C.I.T.E.S. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) In Belize we are very good at following their rules.

I hope you have learned something new and I encourage you to check out the website from SGA. It is a website uncle Glenn made and has much more information.

Thank you Uncle Glenn!



Say NO to offshore oil - Oceana Belize

I live in Belize on an Island called Ambergris Caye. Belize is a beautiful country as the nature is amazing. Belize is very special as it  also has the second largest reef in the world!
A year ago I got certified in diving, and I have seen the underwater wonders we have. Each time I am there I am amazed... we have so much fish and beautiful corals. I have seen Turtles, Dolphins, swam with Sharks and soooo much more.

Swimming with the Sharks!

Thanks to my mom's friend I learned about Oceana Belize. They are an organization who work hard to protect the marine life in Belize.
When I heard that an American company wanted to do Offshore Oil drilling, I was very sad. Because I wanted the world knowing about it, I was able to be part of making a video for Oceana, showing the world that we have to protect our reef and cannot allow big companies coming to drill for oil. Below you can find the video.

"Please Listen! Listen to the Sea!"
If you also want to help Oceana Belize, let Oceana Belize know!



Coconut tree in Belize!

See how many coconuts there are in this tree!

Everyone knows about coconut water and meat... but, even they are very popular in the world, a coconut has another SECRET that is super cool and DELICIOUS!!!!!
Have you heard before from a coconut apple?

Let me tell you a little story about the coconut...

Once there was a tree that produces coconuts, a coconut-tree! The coconuts in the tree were small, but over a few months the coconut will be ready to fall. (In that stage everyone likes to drink the coconut water) But luckily not all coconuts get eaten and people do forget about the coconut on the floor and the coconut gets brown. The next stage of the coconut is to grow a tree, when the tree is a few inches tall the monsterest beast comes and picks it up and grabs a machete...

Monster with a machete and the coconut!

The Monster with a machete and a coconut!

So when the coconut tree is a few inches tall, the coconut water (Which was in there before) is now sponge! This white spongy material is called the coconut apple. It is delicious to eat, is very sweet and tastes like coconut water! The meat inside turned into oil, which many of us use for cooking!

* If you want to use coconut oil you should process it first...(that's the best way)
* When the tree is a foot tall the sponge isn't good to eat anymore...
* When the tree is about one centimeter, the coconut apple is good to eat, but there may be still some coconut-water in there…
* Another way to eat coconut is to grill it on an open fire, and sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon.
* And enjoy!!!

Coconut fact...
Did you know a coconut tree can produce around 75 or more coconuts per year?
( that's a lot of coconut sponge! )

This one definitely has an apple

This one definitely has an apple inside.


Finding coconuts on the beach!

And this is the end of the coconut story!

*** Pictures are taken by Olivera Rusu and Louke van Noord***