Crocodiles of Belize

Travel

Although there are freshwater species of Crocodile residing in Belize, The American or Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the most common species of Crocodile that can be found in its surrounding Cayes and Mangrove communities. They hide in the shallow waters of once undisturbed islands edging their way to the mainland, though they have been known to cross neighbouring waters of their Australian cousins in search for food. Crocodiles are highly territorial, making their proximity with humans one that could be both a threat to their sustenance and an asset. They have been known to travel as far as one hundred and fifty metres to each territory when their own becomes threatened or scarcely populated, making their nomadic habits unpredictable to track.

While there have been few documented cases of Crocodile attacks on this side of Central America, with both the planned expansion of property and an insouciant attitude with feeding, one could expect this to change. Tour guides and local fishermen often approach the matter of Crocodiles with an attitude lending well into their own interests than that of the consequences, one to cultivate a potentially volatile outcome. On the flip side there have been cases of larger adults visit neighbouring docks of Caye Caulker without succumbing to their meat-eating disposition, though their new intrigue should not always be labelled nonchalantly.

Due to over-exploited populations of the Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) in the earlier 20th Century, Crocodile densities in the Northern river systems of Belize came to a prompt decline, urging the reintroduction of juvenile species to areas most affected. The Saltwater Crocodiles may not share the same concern as the once listed endangered species of mainland Belize, but their tendency to settle in alluvial waters could make future weather extremes problematic. Most of the crocs sighted during a survey conducted by Placencia based NGO CRC (Crocodile Research Coalition) were juveniles, whether this could reflect a rigorous pursuit of larger adults or their ability to remain undetected is hard to say.

I spoke briefly to the co-ordinator, Miriam, who kindly invited me onto the night survey alongside local school students, in which she faiths the success of Crocodile conservation firmly on education. It was clear to see that there was plenty of retained knowledge amongst a staggered age range of students, a knowledge to which expanded my own awareness of these prehistorical beasts. One detail that did spark further interest with further wellbeing of these animals is their enriched resonance with Mayan culture and their symbolism with the expansion of consciousness.

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The Island of Doggos

Special, Travel

You’re never further than ten feet of a dog on Caye Caulker, which makes it hard for tourists to get down Middle Street. This does not seem like it has always been an amicable debate, which is why there are a lot of animal shelters and the like on the island. Tourism especially on somewhere like Caye Caulker comes with its own range of negative implications, though I do believe tourism has come to feed a much kinder attitude toward pets. Observing this over the last few weeks has allowed me to gauge not only the disposition with strays and unruly pets, but the contrast between local pet owners and people that pass.

Petting a dog is not something we consider to avoid doing when we see one approaching, though the expanse of dogs getting more attention than that of their owners is one resulting in their new found ‘independence’ You could be stood at a bar in Caye Caulker and see dogs walking in and out just as casually as you would yourself, whether they come home depends on how well their night is going. Amongst the dive shops and restaurants that litter the sandy streets of Caye Caulker, the animal shelters that tuck in between each establishment house an array of different dogs just waiting for a new owner. Whether or not the dogs I have seen have been mistreated or just want to use the new opportunity of open spaces, it is commonplace to see at least one bolt down the road just before it is about to rain.

I spoke briefly with a few volunteers from the animal shelters and was informed that adoptions of these animals were certainly on the rise. One of the locals that invited me round to his house, showed me his dog that he had rescued from the animal shelter a few weeks before and was shocked to see the state it was in. It was covered in that many fleas but was too exhausted to itch or scratch, a skin condition had left a coat of blistered sores and infections. The owner assured me how he had now managed to get antibiotics and all the relevant ointments to treat the dog, to which I had seen improvements already the following week. It is great to see how the attitudes towards animals in poverty have improved, as the cost to feed and house a dog for some people may be more of a burden than the initial blessing of companionship.

Shark and Ray Alley

Special, Travel

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 13.28.53This was one of my first experiences in the water with both Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and (Dasyatidae) Rays. It was extraordinary to watch each species entwining between the next as though they were the same. These animals may not have always been so harmonious together, just as they would not have been so accustomed to humans and intrigued by boat engines, making their shift in nature one worth noting.

The Southern, Caribbean and illusive Eagle Ray are all species that can be found patrolling the waters of Caye Caulker, though the Nurse Shark is usually the most common species to be seen in this area. Sharks are nocturnal, which makes their new jovial turn of character one that displaces their natural instincts and makes them even more susceptible to more forthright ‘predators’ They have short, abrasive teeth that grind and grit rather than puncture and do not share the same dexterous regard as other species of Shark such as the Reef or Bull Shark. It is easy to confuse them with a Catfish, though it is recommended that you leave your hand in its mouth until it lets go as opposed to taking it out suddenly, minus a few fingers. Nurse Sharks hunt mainly fish, though this shift in behaviour as nocturnal hunters will undoubtedly make them less operative as predators and more attractive as prey.

The Rays of Caye Caulker are probably the most majestic class of marine species circling the depths of the island, though their contact with idle tourists has paved way for a much sandier path. They can often be found half buried at the seabed with their barbed tail covered and sensory organs protruding just above, a transcending shift of evolution, one favouring the nap as a key component of the hunt. They stalk mainly Crustaceans and other shadow dwellers that hide between rocks and under boats, which is why they are often found guarding the shallow waters of the docks late at night. While it is highly unlikely for a Ray to attack a human, their new congeniality with tourists may not always remain this way when the petting boundaries become tainted. Tourists must remember that both of these animals are not to be handled flippantly, they are highly capable predators who live in hostile environments and do not hesitate to dispel threats.

This reoccurring debate of human interaction is one that seems to precede most of the topics at hand. It is essential to look retrospectively on our behaviour in environments that are dependable on certain species survival, in order to ascertain a longevity of not only the reef and surrounding habitats but those affording our own.

The Issue with Lionfish

Travel

While there are a number of both exotic and endangered species of fish within the neighbouring waters of Caye Caulker, The Pterois Antennata do not receive half the same compassion. Due to their destructive nature of local species, avid fisherman seek to cull local population of Lionfish every March during the now two year running ‘Lionfish Derby’ It is an event that comes with just as much a competitive spirit as it does a principled one, though subjectively it does not seem so when there is a beautiful fish impaled on a spear. This debate is one that lends into the argument of certain species that are protected due to their commercial value to tourism and threat to humans as opposed to their contribution and place within the ecosystem.

Lionfish are fascinating animals to observe in the water, though too much intrigue will almost undoubtedly be met with much lesser a courteous introduction. Lionfish are able to produce venom that can be displayed through their needle like dorsal fins, stinging humans as well as other animals in the water. The extent of their venom can cause humans to become very ill, cause respiratory difficulties and severe nausea at the best of times. Due to this fact Lionfish are killed both recreationally and vigilantly, protecting various species of both ecologically and commercially important fish, invertebrates in reefs, mangroves and seagrass habitats. There have been cases of fatalities from Lionfish venom, although this rarity comes with the extent of exposure and stupidity of the curious swimmer.

Lionfish can reproduce from 2 to 15,000 eggs during mating, making their populace a big issue for areas affected by their veracious grazing and predatory aggression. Local restaurant’s and the like on Caye Caulker have now endorsed Lionfish on their menus in a bid to assist efforts of their growing numbers at the expense of marine life, though it does taste more like Lobster than it does a fish. Their appearance may not be relative to their taste, though the Lionfish does not have scales, has more of a rubbery than slimy texture and requires effective removal of their spines before eating.

The theme of marine conservation is one to appear frequently throughout the subject matter of this project, though the matter of Lionfish is one that presents a question to the table of both tourist and ecological justification. If the parameters of the food chain would somehow shift in the near future, exotic species being at the forefront of predatorily behaviour, would tourists come to turn their attention to their disposal or revel in their beauty?

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 14.31.22

Camp Life

Travel

Our camp is situated on the north side of the island in a remote area of the mangroves, our only neighbours being salt water crocodiles and the expanse of marine life that visit or reside under our dock. In addition to all things to see underwater, there are just as many sights from above, replacing Pigeons with Pelicans and Helicopters for Hawks. Living is very basic on camp, so we occasionally relax on the South when we deserve a break from the sand flies and mosquitos. We don’t have access to running water or internet which is as much a blessing as it is an inconvenience, though there is some consolation waking up every morning in paradise. We have a dog, Fury, who is more like a mascot than a Pitbull Terrier, amongst our Chickens who probably make more noise and a Cockerel, Trump, who gets up extra early to rehearse his broken squawk. The mother hen has recently had a few chicks but due to nature’s cruel disposition, Trump has been denied full custody on moral grounds.

While camp life is primitive, it has made me appreciate that which I may take for granted, whilst providing an indication of the things I could probably live without. This does not apply for my latest exhibition of culinary genius, mastery of two ways to not cook rice; burnt or al dente. Another attempt came in the form of channelling my Neanderthal heritage, spearing fish from the end of the dock with a Hawaiian sling, though a lot of those residing under the boat are juveniles. The tourists that come to visit us on fishing trips and the like always have a conversation brewing; whether that be about the neighbouring mangroves or how many pull-ups they can do in front of their wives. We let them use our barbecue, lit using coconut husks that litter the surrounding trail, and in return we are left the ‘scraps’ of Lobster and various exotic fish. These kinds of visits definitely don’t go amiss especially when it’s delivered to my new address, which doesn’t have a post box but you can feed a few fish whilst you’re there.

 

1.1.18 Landing in Belize

Travel

As I was about to embark on my journey to Belize, both anticipation and dread added to the surplus of weight I carried on my shoulders. Although I had been sceptical about my arrival at Philip Goldson; the possibly of a lost bag, reluctant customs officer or an absent transfer, arriving on Caye Caulker was as much a breeze as the one that greeted me at the airport exit.

Making our way through the rural areas of Belize gave me a better insight to the contrast of basic local living and tourist luxury, a matter not to have any effect on how well received tourists are to the renowned charm of laidback Belizean culture. Following a short journey from the airport to Belize City, myself and Dagny were accompanied by two familiar faces that she had previously met on the island, a comforting reminder of just how easy it is to make new friends out here. I loaded my bags onto the ferry and all previous scepticism had completely subsided.

I still had another stretch of boat rides to reach camp on the north side, but stepping out in the midday heat of January and across onto the first boat was the point to which I knew I’d made a great decision. For every wave further from the stresses of the city was one closer to nature and its expanse of living things, the mangroves being one of the communities once untouched, now yet another wing on the butterfly effect of our ecosystem. These are issues I will cover throughout the duration of my time here, and something making me evermore cynical of tourist influx, lending into a much larger debate of our intrusion of nature. All that was left for me to do was take my first step into the white sand and bury with them, the disposition of what I know to be the obliviousness of our culture.

Consistency>Intensity

Lifestyle

From what we understand of motivation; proving reason to our actions, this becomes redundant when actions are not met with change. By this change, I am referring to positive change –results– indications of our efforts, reassurance that what we are doing is worthwhile. This is synonymous to the once referred ‘Sweat:Benefit’ and lends to the fact that even a determined attitude may not always serve us well in contrast to the expense of our effort. In simple terms, without the ability to quantify the exchange rate of the currency ‘sweat’ how would we know whether much of our energy is soon to be carelessly invested? Can we often to be so set on pursuing or achieving something in the short term that it detracts us from the ever looming end goal. Often those with a big enough reason to break bad habits and try their hand at regular exercise will likely commit themselves to difficult choices under the guise that change is likely to come with such habits suppressed and that alone. If the timeframe of said goals and aspirations for personal development is short, the sustainability of holding onto a certain weight, losing a certain amount every week or seeing improvements in strength will bear the same duration. If it has taken 10 years for the body to become morbidly obese or lose 10 stone of fat, each contrasting result in time will ultimately seek to undo itself. This satisfies a system which adheres to a constant internal environment, adapted over the course of a lifetime to keep us functioning at optimal capacity for the lifestyle we lead.

The truth is no one thing will have sufficient bearing on overall health just as no one car can extinguish fuel emissions by swapping out a single engine. The combination of better decisions alongside a strategy  that is conducive to change may collectively move the larger wheels as opposed to the smaller, cog. To see a change which will then reinforce the efforts of everything else in favour, consistency should remain a constant. Intensity or higher output, a factor most indicative to that of top athletes and the like, is something that can hinder consistency through ‘aimless’ effort. If an Olympic athlete only ever tested their podium-worthy throw and nothing else in between, the more humble throwing teammates would soon become their successors. It is the progression and reinforcement of a thousand lighter throws that come to build the eventual weightier record, lessons learned in the process and added to create the finished product. So what does this mean for the other majority of us that do not plan on setting records or committing to a life of sport? If anything can be said for the sustainability of success, it is the clamorous journey that paves the path with each gritty footstep or a multitude of jumps. The latter represent risks that one can take in order to surpass competition but are also instances of trying something new in order to break the mould of stubborn conformity. The inclination to front a thousand complex ideas as opposed to one easy one? Taking the long way round instead of the shortcut purely because of difficulty? Would this be something many consider to have any practical application? I am not suggesting that we run a marathon without any prior training because it is hard, but test the boundaries of our threshold with things we may not have a natural aptitude for, inspiring new processes and igniting dormant aspects of our predetermined makeup.  That’s enough evolution for one day.

So do the consistent throws come to surpass the brute force of intensity on the bounds of averages? The two coincide to litter points along a neat fringe of records, to be broken at the expense of someone delivering a better combination of these two factors, a point that each warrant a solid groundwork but also depend heavily on each-other collectively as a unit;

10/12/8/10

8/8/8/8/8/

Here the end goal of 40 is met in less time, is the reward upon reaching the goal to be as short lived as the journey or will it be more sustainable to apply consistent effort at the same intensity? This is something one can look at or apply to an approach which tackles each opportunity of progression with maximum effort. I am not advising to operate at a much lower intensity in order to see change but identify how the bulk of your energy may be utilised in some areas that could do with an adjustment period. Simply put we cannot physically operate at 100% all of the time without eventually having to ‘crash’ –sleep– imagine the state of change, whether that be weight loss, gain or changes to body composition, residing in a dormant state, in need of rest and yet equally awaiting a purpose to wake.

 

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Special, Uncategorized

As the boundaries of reality become ever more distorted by days spent staging the next, one can often question if the present is just a passing manifestation of the past as we know it, or the future as we deem it to be. For each second that falls into the vacuum of space, every blink of our genetic makeup ingests the information that keeps us from a mutiny of beasts. Beasts who have shared the kiss of life, endured the roughest climates, but cannot speak of the tales that claim them their birthright. Is evolution a battle to the top of the hill that spills at the summit and melts into skies, purging the soil for fruits that do not seed, birds that do not fly and dogs that cannot bark. Humans that cannot read, Robots that cannot obey. Have our destinies be designed, can our fate be known, are our dreams reality?

Should I Do Cardio?

Lifestyle

This comes at a time to which the topic at hand is becoming much more significant to my routine. In previous posts I have discussed an number of different ‘Should I…”s in the hope of shedding light on things I have tried, their benefits and whether they can have practical application to your lifestyle. Although cardio is something that always finds itself on the back-burner of the to-do list, it is definitely something that simply cannot be overlooked as far as improving general physical fitness capacity and body composition. While it is possible to be reasonably lean without having to buckle over your feet with boredom for an hour everyday, there’s certainly more to cardio than just the monotony we deem it so.

Take a typical high intensity resistance session; physically demanding, prolonged rep ranges and little rest, do we find ourselves exerted in later stages from said components or are we simply not fit enough? Would having a better CV capacity enable us to work beyond the barrier of breathlessness? Recovery and resilience between sets, especially at the upper limits of ones threshold may certainly be a useful feat to muster, notwithstanding everything else that comes with output at 100% or close to it. How much would that extra time award us in hindsight? more time under tension, more, reps, less can’t, more do.

HIIT- The buzzword of all buzzwords, the ‘H’ being ‘High’ and the first ‘I, Intensity’ Not, ‘Slow>maybe a bit harder>back to slow when I get tired>repeat’. This should be at the very top 90-100% of your threshold followed by an intermittent recovery period, the shorter this period, the more difficult and the more conditioned you will become to output at a higher rate with less rest. Despite Joe Wickes and other celebrity trainers milking HIIT, it is challenging and does break up the monotony of continuous cardio training. However, people seem to quantify HIIT work in sweat –I am sweating a lot therefore it must be doing something– rather than applying variations of different intensities in a systematic fashion, monitoring its effect on A. CV fitness and B. Body composition because ultimately, B is the end game for most people.

Another issue with ONLY doing HIIT is that everything else will now feel less responsive and/or not as difficult, and not all exercises are effective when performed in this fashion. General conditioning work and anything that gets you heart racing enough can bode well with everything else that comes with staying fit, but without being able to quantify where you’re at, you will struggle to gauge where you can realistically improve.

Take a 500m row, this should take most active people less than 2 minutes to complete, in and amongst a warmup row or HIIT training, such a test will gauge where you’re currently at. Performing this to time after a cycle of continuous or interval training will further indicate how quickly you are recovering –the closer the base time, recovery must be improving–  This can also be done at 1 and 2,500 metres if you tend to do more continuous cardio, which surprisingly burns into fat stores at a much more greater capacity than HIIT.

So how many hours a week should I do cardio?

Depending on your fitness goals, having an active job may suffice for general fitness albeit the lifestyle and food choices one may surfeit to conflict. I would recommend doing some form of physical activity each day and something that challenges you on three specific days i.e

Monday- 30 mins/ 1 hour continuous bike

Wednesday- 2,500m row for time

Friday- Stepper or Elliptical intervals 10-15 minutes at 50%- 90%

40/20- 40 work/20 rest

or
30/30- 30”/30”

or
20/10- 20”/20”

Rather than me protest the importance of cardio, fully aware of people’s distaste with monotony and/or hard work, getting the amount right will work wonders for your overall body composition, whether that be in conjunction with heavy weight training, yoga or all competitive sports.

Now that I have completed my further studies for level 4 PT I do plan to post at least every week on various topics which may be of use to active individuals and fitness enthusiasts. I will be featuring 30 day challenges and transformation packages to purchase on my new website so keep your eyes peeled and follow @jakedarcyfitness on IG if you haven’t already.

Jake 👊

 

 

 

 

Transformations, Criticism & Expectations

Lifestyle

I had planned to keep this next post completely relevant to the topic at hand, considering that fact that most people proceed into the scrolling abyss of Facebook when what they happen to read doesn’t make them cry with laughter or scream with outrage in the first paragraph. Nevertheless, and acknowledging the atrocities that unfolded earlier this week, it is inevitable for one to look at their current reality retrospectively, swiftly realising the sheer abundance of what they have, knowing what others have lost. Despite all the monstrosities, hate and scandal that has erupted on many of the social platforms, I have never been so grateful to experience such an overwhelming sensation of pride and unity with the people of this town. Forget how well-worded and eloquent raw emotion can be transcribed, the flux of inspiring words and heartfelt posts that have graced my newsfeed has left me in tremendous awe. Without further acknowledging those that continue to disease the lungs of a peaceful world with ignorance, It is certainly refreshing to see how once modest opinions and expressions have relented despite criticism.

It is this criticism that will bear to be the crux of ‘Transformations and Expectations’

First of all, we must quantify the purpose of the physical transformation.

In relation to my field of ‘expertise’ physical results are EVERYTHING. They suggest that one, or a multitude of things in the body have improved, so much so, that they can be seen. Without tangible reason to believe what we are doing is 1. Effective and 2. Worthwhile, what could warrant the enormity of effort that goes into making goals a reality? I would have loved to own a collection of old photos indicative of habitually letting loose and looking my worst purely to illustrate a contrast, but unfortunately I have always insisted on chasing my best. Equally, I would love to have an expensive camera, a film crew behind me condensing the superlatives of my body down to a single perfect image for IG, but unfortunately this is far from the case. While I cannot say that I am not partial to a party, I don’t think I could justify convincing one of my clients that they can fast-track a route closer to ‘success’ whilst insisting on a life without discipline, impending denial. Everyone operates at different speeds, the tracks of some longer than others, some finding themselves delayed on the way to their destination and others failing to ever leave the station. To base your own wealth of successes on that of others would be like *insert the Einstein quote about a fish judging its ability to climb a tree* Therefore don’t be thrown off by illusive examples of those that can afford to get ‘out of shape’ and intermittently lose it just to prove a point and get paid to do so.

In terms of how the latter ‘Expectations’ can take precedence in ones reality of fierce judgement and criticism, it is essential that these do not exist unless you make it so. If you happen to be a girl and post a seemingly ‘shameless’ progress picture in a bikini made from fishing wire, expect and anticipate that you will more than likely be judged and criticised than praised. Equally, if you choose to act, dress or  convey yourself in a manner that is not conducive to societal expectations of ‘black, 16, y’o, male’ or ‘white, 50 y’o, female’, expect an onslaught of criticism and embrace the fact that you do not need to conform to be contented.

I will now conclude with what may later come to be regarded as the somewhat mental ‘metamorphosis’

It’s all well and good having a great body, plenty of money in the bank, a nice car and the tools to carve out a stable life, but the novelty of all physical entities will eventually ensue just as briefly as the road to them, long. I’m confident on the fact that I no longer sit on the fence with regards to the great juxtaposition of mental and physical wealth, albeit I refuse to protest myself as an example of how to attain the happy medium. I believe that securing such a presence in a better reality is one with a firm acknowledgement of change and accepting it without contest. If a hectic work schedule consumes enough of your time to make exercise seem like a distant fantasy, insist on making it a priority when the opportunity presents itself instead of adding it to another weeks of ‘maybe next weeks’

–This is not just related to exercise– The mental capacity required to see something through without seeing tangible results, having to justify hours that could be spent earning more money or maintaining relationships with people, is one that cannot be quantified or matched by physical entities. Do so with the intention to progress on both ends of the spectrum rather than treading water in the ironic depths of shallowness.

Jake

👊